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A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These ...

computer
whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an
end user In product development, an end user (sometimes end-user) is a person who ultimately uses or is intended to ultimately use a product. The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product, such as sysop A sysop (; an abbrev ...
, rather than by a computer expert or
technician A technician is a worker in a field of technology who is proficient in the relevant skill and technique, with a relatively practical understanding of the theoretical principles. Specialisation The term technician covers many different specialisa ...

technician
. Unlike large, costly
minicomputer A minicomputer, or colloquially mini, is a class of smaller general purpose computers that developed in the mid-1960s and sold for much less than Mainframe computer, mainframe and mid-size computers from IBM and BUNCH, its direct competitors. In ...
s and
mainframe A pair of IBM mainframes. On the left is the IBM z Systems z13. On the right is the IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper.">IBM_LinuxONE.html" ;"title="IBM z Systems z13. On the right is the IBM LinuxONE">IBM z Systems z13. On the right is the IBM LinuxONE R ...
s,
time-sharing In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softw ...
by many people at the same time is not used with personal computers. Institutional or corporate computer owners in the 1960s had to write their own programs to do any useful work with the machines. While personal computer users may develop their own applications, usually these systems run
commercial software Commercial software, or seldom payware, is a computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware, from which the system ...
, free-of-charge software ("
freeware Freeware is software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work ...

freeware
"), which is most often proprietary, or
free and open-source software Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software Software is a collection of instructions that tell a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. ...
, which is provided in "ready-to-run", or
binary Binary may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Binary number In mathematics and digital electronics, a binary number is a number expressed in the base-2 numeral system or binary numeral system, which uses only two symbols: ty ...

binary
, form. Software for personal computers is typically developed and distributed independently from the hardware or
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
manufacturers. Many personal computer users no longer need to write their own programs to make any use of a personal computer, although end-user programming is still feasible. This contrasts with mobile systems, where software is often available only through a manufacturer-supported channel, and end-user program development may be discouraged by lack of support by the manufacturer. Since the early 1990s,
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multination ...

Microsoft
operating systems and
Intel Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation A multinational company (MNC) is a corporate A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personalit ...

Intel
hardware dominated much of the personal computer market, first with
MS-DOS MS-DOS ( ; acronym for Microsoft Disk Operating System, also known as Microsoft DOS) is an operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, computer software, software resources, and provides commo ...
and then with
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor Also in 1973
Hewlett Packard The Hewlett-Packard Company, commonly shortened to Hewlett-Packard ( ) or HP, was an American multinational information technology company headquartered in Palo Alto, California. HP developed and provided a wide variety of hardware compone ...
introduced fully
BASIC BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming language In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the ar ...

BASIC
programmable microcomputers that fit entirely on top of a desk, including a keyboard, a small one-line display, and printer. The
Wang 2200 The Wang 2200 appeared in May 1973, and was Wang Laboratories Wang Laboratories was a computer company founded in 1951, by An Wang and G. Y. Chu. The company was successively headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cambridge ( ) is a city ...
microcomputer of 1973 had a full-size
cathode ray tube A cathode-ray tube (CRT) is a vacuum tube A vacuum tube, electron tube, valve (British usage), or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current An electric current is a stream of charged particles, such as electrons ...

cathode ray tube
(CRT) and cassette tape storage. These were generally expensive specialized computers sold for business or scientific uses. 1974 saw the introduction of what is considered by many to be the first true "personal computer", the
Altair 8800 The Altair 8800 is a microcomputer A microcomputer is a small, relatively inexpensive computer with a microprocessor as its central processing unit (CPU). It includes a microprocessor, Computer memory, memory and minimal input/output (I/O) cir ...

Altair 8800
created by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). Based on the 8-bit
Intel 8080 The Intel 8080 (''"eighty-eighty"'') is the second 8-bit microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel. It first appeared in April 1974 and is an extended and enhanced variant of the earlier Intel 8008, 8008 design, although without binary ...
Microprocessor, Wayne Green visited MITS in August 1975 and interviewed Ed Roberts. Article has several paragraphs on the design of the Altair 8800. the Altair is widely recognized as the spark that ignited the
microcomputer revolution The history of the personal computer as a mass-market consumer electronic device began with the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s. A personal computer is one intended for interactive individual use, as opposed to a mainframe computer where t ...
as the first commercially successful personal computer. The
computer bus In computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a set of rules and methods that describe the functionality, organization, and implementation of computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry ...
designed for the Altair was to become a ''de facto'' standard in the form of the
S-100 bus The S-100 bus or Altair bus, IEEE 696-1983 ''(withdrawn)'', is an early computer bus In computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a set of rules and methods that describe the functionality, organization, and ...
, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product,
Altair BASIC Altair BASIC is a discontinued interpreter for the BASIC programming language BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-purpose, high-level programming languages whos ...
. "This announcement ltair 8800ranks with IBM's announcement of the System/360 a decade earlier as one of the most significant in the history of computing." In 1976,
Steve Jobs Steven Paul Jobs (; February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American business magnate A business magnate is someone who has achieved great success and enormous wealth through the ownership of multiple lines of enterprise. The term ch ...

Steve Jobs
and
Steve Wozniak Stephen Gary Wozniak (; born August 11, 1950), also known by his nickname "Woz", is an American electronics engineer Image:Silego clock generator.JPG, Printed circuit board Electronic engineering (also called electronics and communications e ...

Steve Wozniak
sold the
Apple I The Apple Computer 1, originally released as the Apple Computer and known later as the Apple I, or Apple-1, is a desktop computer released by the Apple Computer Company (now Apple Inc.) in 1976. It was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. T ...

Apple I
computer circuit board, which was fully prepared and contained about 30 chips. The Apple I computer differed from the other kit-style hobby computers of era. At the request of
Paul Terrell Paul Terrell is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...

Paul Terrell
, owner of the
Byte Shop The byte is a units of information, unit of digital information that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character (computing), character of text in a computer and for this ...
, Jobs and Wozniak were given their first purchase order, for 50 Apple I computers, only if the computers were assembled and tested and not a kit computer. Terrell wanted to have computers to sell to a wide range of users, not just experienced electronics hobbyists who had the soldering skills to assemble a computer kit. The
Apple I The Apple Computer 1, originally released as the Apple Computer and known later as the Apple I, or Apple-1, is a desktop computer released by the Apple Computer Company (now Apple Inc.) in 1976. It was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. T ...

Apple I
as delivered was still technically a kit computer, as it did not have a power supply, case, or keyboard when it was delivered to the Byte Shop. The first successfully mass-marketed personal computer to be announced was the
Commodore PET The Commodore PET is a line of personal computer A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...

Commodore PET
after being revealed in January 1977. However, it was back-ordered and not available until later that year. Commodore press release. "The PET computer made its debut recently as the first 100 units were shipped to waiting customers in mid-October 1977." Three months later (April), the
Apple II The Apple II (stylized as apple ] '') is an 8-bit home computer">8-bit.html" ;"title="'') is an 8-bit">'') is an 8-bit home computer and one of the world's first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products. It was designed primari ...
(usually referred to as the "Apple") was announced with the first units being shipped 10 June 1977, and the
TRS-80 The TRS-80 Micro Computer System (TRS-80, later renamed the Model I to distinguish it from successors) is a desktop microcomputer A microcomputer is a small, relatively inexpensive computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed ...

TRS-80
from
Tandy Corporation Tandy Corporation was an American family-owned leather goods company based in Fort Worth, Texas, United States. Tandy Leather was founded in 1919 as a leather supply store. By the end of the 1950s, under the tutelage of then-CEO Charles Tandy, ...
/ Tandy Radio Shack following in August 1977, which sold over 100,000 units during its lifetime. Together, these 3 machines were referred to as the "1977 trinity". Mass-market, ready-assembled computers had arrived, and allowed a wider range of people to use computers, focusing more on software applications and less on development of the processor hardware. In 1977 the Heath company introduced personal computer kits known as Heathkits, starting with the Heathkit H8, followed by the Heathkit H89 in late 1979. With the purchase of the Heathkit H8 you would obtain the chassis and CPU card to assemble yourself, additional hardware such as the H8-1 memory board that contained 4k of RAM could also be purchased in order to run software. The Heathkit H11 model was released in 1978 and was one of the first 16-bit personal computers; however, due to its high retail cost of $1,295 was discontinued in 1982. During the early 1980s, home computers were further developed for household use, with software for personal productivity, programming and games. They typically could be used with a television already in the home as the computer display, with low-detail blocky graphics and a limited color range, and text about 40 characters wide by 25 characters tall. Sinclair Research, a UK company, produced the ZX Seriesthe ZX80 (1980), ZX81 (1981), and the ZX Spectrum; the latter was introduced in 1982, and totaled 8 million unit sold. Following came the Commodore 64, totaled 17 million units sold and the Amstrad CPC series (464–6128). In the same year, the NEC PC-9801, NEC PC-98 was introduced, which was a very popular personal computer that sold in more than 18 million units. Another famous personal computer, the revolutionary Amiga 1000, was unveiled by Commodore International, Commodore on 23 July 1985. The Amiga 1000 featured a multitasking, windowing operating system, color graphics with a 4096-color palette, stereo sound, Motorola 68000 CPU, 256 KB RAM, and 880 KB 3.5-inch disk drive, for US$1,295. Somewhat larger and more expensive systems were aimed at office and small business use. These often featured 80-column text displays but might not have had graphics or sound capabilities. These microprocessor-based systems were still less costly than time-shared mainframes or minicomputers. Workstations were characterized by high-performance processors and graphics displays, with large-capacity local disk storage, networking capability, and running under a Computer multitasking, multitasking operating system. Eventually, due to the influence of the IBM PC on the personal computer market, personal computers and home computers lost any technical distinction. Business computers acquired color graphics capability and sound, and home computers and game systems users used the same processors and operating systems as office workers. Mass-market computers had graphics capabilities and memory comparable to dedicated workstations of a few years before. Even local area networking, originally a way to allow business computers to share expensive mass storage and peripherals, became a standard feature of personal computers used at home. IBM's first PC was introduced on 12 August 1981. In 1982 "The Computer" was named Time Person of the Year, Machine of the Year by ''Time (magazine), Time'' magazine. In the 2010s, several companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Sony sold off their PC and laptop divisions. As a result, the personal computer was declared dead several times during this period. An increasingly important set of uses for personal computers relied on the ability of the computer to communicate with other computer systems, allowing interchange of information. Experimental public access to a shared mainframe computer system was demonstrated as early as 1973 in the Community Memory project, but bulletin board systems and online service providers became more commonly available after 1978. Commercial Internet service providers emerged in the late 1980s, giving public access to the rapidly growing network. In 1991, the World Wide Web was made available for public use. The combination of powerful personal computers with high-resolution graphics and sound, with the infrastructure provided by the Internet, and the standardization of access methods of the Web browsers, established the foundation for a significant fraction of modern life, from bus time tables through unlimited distribution of free videos through to online user-edited encyclopedias.


Types


Stationary


Workstation

A workstation is a high-end personal computer designed for technical, mathematical, or scientific applications. Intended primarily to be used by one person at a time, they are commonly connected to a local area network and run multi-user
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
s. Workstations are used for tasks such as computer-aided design, drafting and modeling, computation-intensive scientific and engineering calculations, image processing, architecture, architectural modeling, and computer graphics for animation and motion picture visual effects.


Desktop computer

Before the widespread use of PCs, a computer that could fit on a desk was remarkably small, leading to the "desktop" nomenclature. More recently, the phrase usually indicates a particular style of computer case. Desktop computers come in a variety of styles ranging from large vertical tower cases to small models which can be tucked behind or rest directly beneath (and support) LCD monitors. While the term "desktop" often refers to a computer with a vertically aligned computer tower case, these varieties often rest on the ground or underneath desks. Despite this seeming contradiction, the term "desktop" does typically refer to these vertical tower cases as well as the horizontally aligned models which are designed to literally rest on top of desks and are therefore more appropriate to the "desktop" term, although both types qualify for this "desktop" label in most practical situations aside from certain physical arrangement differences. Both styles of these computer cases hold the systems hardware components such as the motherboard, processor chip, other internal operating parts. Desktop computers have an external monitor with a display screen and an external keyboard, which are plugged into ports on the back of the computer case. Desktop computers are popular for home and business computing applications as they leave space on the desk for Multi-monitor, multiple monitors. A gaming computer is a desktop computer that generally comprises a high-performance video card, processor and RAM, to improve the speed and responsiveness of demanding PC game, video games. An all-in-one computer (also known as single-unit PCs) is a desktop computer that combines the monitor and processor within a single unit. A separate keyboard and mouse are standard input devices, with some monitors including touchscreen capability. The processor and other working components are typically reduced in size relative to standard desktops, located behind the monitor, and configured similarly to laptops. A nettop computer was introduced by
Intel Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation A multinational company (MNC) is a corporate A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personalit ...

Intel
in February 2008, characterized by low cost and lean functionality. These were intended to be used with an Internet connection to run World Wide Web, Web browsers and Internet applications. A Home theater PC (HTPC) combines the functions of a personal computer and a digital video recorder. It is connected to a TV set or an appropriately sized
computer display A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form. A monitor usually comprises a electronic visual display, visual display, electronic circuit, some circuitry, a casing, and a power supply. The display dev ...
, and is often used as a digital photo viewer, music and video player, TV receiver, and digital video recorder. HTPCs are also referred to as media center systems or media servers. The goal is to combine many or all components of a home cinema, home theater setup into one box. HTPCs can also connect to services providing on-demand movies and TV shows. HTPCs can be purchased pre-configured with the required hardware and software needed to add television programming to the PC, or can be assembled from components. Keyboard computers are computers inside of keyboards. Examples include the Commodore 64, MSX, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST and the ZX Spectrum.


Portable

The potential utility of portable computers was apparent early on. Alan Kay described the Dynabook in 1972, but no hardware was developed. The Xerox NoteTaker was produced in a very small experimental batch around 1978. In 1975, the
IBM 5100 The IBM 5100 Portable Computer is a portable computer , one of the first portable IBM PC compatible systems Image:MIT Suitcase Computer 1975.jpg, The MIT Suitcase Computer, MIT Digital Systems Laboratory, 1975 A portable computer is a com ...

IBM 5100
could be fit into a transport case, making it a portable computer, but it weighed about 50 pounds. Before the introduction of the IBM PC, portable computers consisting of a processor, display, disk drives and keyboard, in a suit-case style portable housing, allowed users to bring a computer home from the office or to take notes at a classroom. Examples include the Osborne 1 and Kaypro; and the Commodore SX-64. These machines were AC-powered and included a small CRT display screen. The form factor was intended to allow these systems to be taken on board an airplane as carry-on baggage, though their high power demand meant that they could not be used in flight. The integrated CRT display made for a relatively heavy package, but these machines were more portable than their contemporary desktop equals. Some models had standard or optional connections to drive an external video monitor, allowing a larger screen or use with video projectors. IBM PC-compatible suitcase format computers became available soon after the introduction of the PC, with the Compaq Portable being a leading example of the type. Later models included a hard drive to give roughly equivalent performance to contemporary desktop computers. The development of thin plasma display and LCD screens permitted a somewhat smaller form factor, called the "lunchbox" computer. The screen formed one side of the enclosure, with a detachable keyboard and one or two half-height floppy disk drives, mounted facing the ends of the computer. Some variations included a battery, allowing operation away from AC outlets.Scott Mueller, ''Upgrading and Repairing Laptops'', Que Publishing, 2004, , pp. 18–21 Notebook computers such as the TRS-80 Model 100 and Epson HX-20 had roughly the plan dimensions of a sheet of typing paper (Paper size, ANSI A or ISO A4). These machines had a keyboard with slightly reduced dimensions compared to a desktop system, and a fixed LCD display screen coplanar with the keyboard. These displays were usually small, with 8 to 16 lines of text, sometimes only 40 columns line length. However, these machines could operate for extended times on disposable or rechargeable batteries. Although they did not usually include internal disk drives, this form factor often included a modem for telephone communication and often had provisions for external cassette or disk storage. Later, clam-shell format laptop computers with similar small plan dimensions were also called "notebooks".


Laptop

A laptop computer is designed for portability with "Flip (form), clamshell" design, where the keyboard and computer components are on one panel, with a hinged second panel containing a flat display screen. Closing the laptop protects the screen and keyboard during transportation. Laptops generally have a rechargeable battery (electricity), battery, enhancing their portability. To save power, weight and space, laptop graphics chips are in many cases integrated into the CPU or chipset and use system RAM, resulting in reduced graphics performance when compared to desktop machines, that more typically have a graphics card installed. For this reason, desktop computers are usually preferred over laptops for Video game, gaming purposes. Unlike desktop computers, only minor internal upgrades (such as memory and hard disk drive) are feasible owing to the limited space and power available. Laptops have the same input and output ports as desktops, for connecting to external displays, mice, cameras, storage devices and keyboards. Laptops are also a little more expensive compared to desktops, as the miniaturized components for laptops themselves are expensive. A desktop replacement computer is a portable computer that provides the full capabilities of a desktop computer. Such computers are currently large laptops. This class of computers usually includes more powerful components and a larger display than generally found in smaller portable computers, and may have limited battery capacity or no battery. Netbooks, also called mini notebooks or subnotebooks, were a subgroup of laptops suited for general computing tasks and accessing web application, web-based applications. Initially, the primary defining characteristic of netbooks was the lack of an optical disc drive, smaller size, and lower performance than full-size laptops. By mid-2009 netbooks had been offered to users "free of charge", with an extended service contract purchase of a cellular data plan. Ultrabooks and Chromebooks have since filled the gap left by Netbooks. Unlike the generic Netbook name, Ultrabook and Chromebook are technically both specifications by Intel and Google respectively.


Tablet

A Tablet computer, tablet uses a touchscreen display, which can be controlled using either a stylus pen or finger. Some tablets may use a "hybrid" or "convertible" design, offering a keyboard that can either be removed as an attachment, or a screen that can be rotated and folded directly over top the keyboard. Some tablets may use desktop-PC operating system such as Windows or Linux, or may run an operating system designed primarily for tablets. Many tablet computers have USB ports, to which a keyboard or mouse can be connected.


Smartphone

Smartphones are often similar to tablet computers, the difference being that smartphones always have cellular frequencies, cellular integration. They are generally smaller than tablets, and may not have a slate form factor.


Ultra-mobile PC

The ultra-mobile PC (UMP) is a small tablet computer. It was developed by
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multination ...

Microsoft
,
Intel Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation A multinational company (MNC) is a corporate A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personalit ...

Intel
and Samsung Electronics, Samsung, among others. Current UMPCs typically feature the Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Linux
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
, and low-voltage Intel Atom or VIA C7-M processors.


Pocket PC

A pocket PC is a hardware specification for a handheld-sized computer (personal digital assistant, PDA) that runs the
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multination ...

Microsoft
Windows Mobile
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
. It may have the capability to run an alternative
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
like NetBSD or
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product ...

Linux
. Pocket PCs have many of the capabilities of desktop IBM PC compatible, PCs. Numerous software, applications are available for handhelds adhering to the Microsoft Pocket PC specification, many of which are
freeware Freeware is software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work ...

freeware
. Microsoft-compliant Pocket PCs can also be used with many other add-ons like Global Positioning System, GPS receivers, barcode readers, RFID readers and cameras. In 2007, with the release of Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft dropped the name Pocket PC in favor of a new naming scheme: devices without an integrated phone are called Windows Mobile Classic instead of Pocket PC, while devices with an integrated phone and a touch screen are called Windows Mobile Professional.


Palmtop and handheld computers

Palmtop PCs were miniature pocket-sized computers running DOS that first came about in the late 1980s, typically in a clamshell form factor with a keyboard. Non-x86 based devices were often called palmtop computers, examples being Psion Series 3. In later years a hardware specification called Handheld PC was later released by Microsoft that run the Windows CE operating system.


Hardware

Computer hardware is a comprehensive term for all physical and tangible parts of a computer, as distinguished from the data it contains or operates on, and the software that provides instructions for the hardware to accomplish tasks. Some sub-systems of a personal computer may contain processors that run a fixed program, or firmware, such as a keyboard controller. Firmware usually is not changed by the end user of the personal computer. Most 2010s-era computers require users only to plug in the power supply, monitor, and other cables. A typical desktop computer consists of a computer case (or "tower"), a metal chassis that holds the Computer power supply, power supply, motherboard, hard disk drive, and often an optical disc drive. Most towers have empty space where users can add additional components. External devices such as a computer monitor or visual display unit, computer keyboard, keyboard, and a pointing device (Computer mouse, mouse) are usually found in a personal computer. The motherboard connects all processor, memory and peripheral devices together. The RAM, graphics card and processor are in most cases mounted directly onto the motherboard. The central processing unit (microprocessor chip) plugs into a CPU socket, while the ram modules plug into corresponding ram sockets. Some motherboards have the video display adapter, sound and other peripherals integrated onto the motherboard, while others use expansion slots for graphics cards, network cards, or other Input/output, I/O devices. The graphics card or sound card may employ a break out box to keep the analog parts away from the electromagnetic radiation inside the computer case. Disk drives, which provide mass storage, are connected to the motherboard with one cable, and to the power supply through another cable. Usually, disk drives are mounted in the same case as the motherboard; expansion chassis are also made for additional disk storage. For large amounts of data, a tape drive can be used or extra hard disks can be put together in an external case. The keyboard and the mouse are external devices plugged into the computer through connectors on an I/O panel on the back of the computer case. The monitor is also connected to the input/output (I/O) panel, either through an onboard port on the motherboard, or a port on the graphics card. Capabilities of the personal computer's hardware can sometimes be extended by the addition of expansion cards connected via an expansion computer bus, bus. Standard peripheral buses often used for adding expansion cards in personal computers include Peripheral Component Interconnect, PCI, PCI Express (PCIe), and Accelerated Graphics Port, AGP (a high-speed PCI bus dedicated to graphics adapters, found in older computers). Most modern personal computers have multiple physical PCI Express expansion slots, with some having PCI slots as well. A peripheral is "a device connected to a computer to provide communication (such as input and output) or auxiliary functions (such as additional storage)". Peripherals generally connect to the computer through the use of USB ports or inputs located on the I/O panel. USB flash drives provide portable storage using flash memory which allows users to access the files stored on the drive on any computer. Memory cards also provide portable storage for users, commonly used on other electronics such as mobile phones and digital cameras, the information stored on these cards can be accessed using a memory card reader to transfer data between devices. Webcams, which are either built into computer hardware or connected via USB are video cameras that records video in real time to either be saved to the computer or streamed somewhere else over the internet. Game controllers can be plugged in via USB and can be used as an input device for video games as an alternative to using keyboard and mouse. Headphones and speakers can be connected via USB or through an auxiliary port (found on I/O panel) and allow users to listen to audio accessed on their computer; however, speakers may also require an additional power source to operate. Microphones can be connected through an audio input port on the I/O panel and allow the computer to convert sound into an electrical signal to be used or transmitted by the computer.


Software

Computer software is any kind of computer program, Algorithm, procedure, or documentation that performs some task on a computer system. The term includes application software such as word processors that perform productive tasks for users, system software such as
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
s that interface with computer hardware to provide the necessary services for application software, and middleware that controls and co-ordinates Distributed computing, distributed systems. Software applications are common for
word processing In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most lang ...
, Internet browsing, Internet faxing,
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e-mail
and other digital messaging, multimedia playback, playing of computer game, and computer programming. The user may have significant knowledge of the operating environment and application programs, but is not necessarily interested in programming nor even able to write programs for the computer. Therefore, most software written primarily for personal computers tends to be designed with simplicity of use, or "usability, user-friendliness" in mind. However, the software industry continuously provide a wide range of new products for use in personal computers, targeted at both the expert and the non-expert user.


Operating system

An operating system (OS) manages computer resources and provides programmers with an User interface, interface used to access those resources. An operating system processes system data and user input, and responds by allocating and managing tasks and internal system resources as a service to users and programs of the system. An operating system performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating Computer data storage, memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling input/output, input and output devices, facilitating computer networking, and managing files. Common contemporary desktop operating systems are
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor