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 systems. Workstations are used for tasks such as "computer-aided design, drafting and modeling, computation-intensive scientific and engineering calculations, image processing, "architectural modeling, and "computer graphics for animation and motion picture visual effects.
Prior to the widespread usage 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 an "LCD monitor. In this sense, the term "desktop" refers specifically to a horizontally oriented case, usually intended to have the display screen placed on top to save desk space. Most modern desktop computers have an external display screen and an external keyboard, which are typically plugged into the computer case.
A gaming computer is a standard desktop computer that typically has high-performance hardware, such as a more powerful "video card, processor and memory, in order to handle the requirements of demanding "video games, which are often simply called "PC games". A number of companies, such as "Alienware, manufacture prebuilt gaming computers, and companies such as "Razer and "Logitech market mice, keyboards and headsets geared toward gamers.
Single-unit PCs (also known as all-in-one PCs) are a subtype of desktop computers that combine the monitor and case of the computer within a single unit. The monitor often utilizes a "touchscreen as an optional method of user input, but separate keyboards and mice are normally still included. The inner components of the PC are often located directly behind the monitor and many of such PCs are built similarly to laptops.
A subtype of desktops, called "nettops, was introduced by "Intel in February 2008, characterized by low cost and lean functionality. A similar subtype of laptops (or notebooks) is the "netbook, described below. The product line features the new "Intel Atom processor, which specifically enables nettops to consume less power and fit into small enclosures.
Home theater PC
A "home theater PC (HTPC) is a convergence device that 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, 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 general goal in a HTPC is usually to combine many or all components of a "home theater setup into one box. More recently, HTPCs gained the ability to 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 cobbled together out of discrete components, what is commonly done with software support from "MythTV, "Windows Media Center, "GB-PVR, "SageTV, Famulent or "LinuxMCE.
A "laptop computer, also called a notebook, is a small personal computer designed for portability. Usually, all of the hardware and interfaces needed to operate a laptop, such as the graphics card, audio devices or "USB ports (previously "parallel and "serial ports), are built into a single unit. Laptops usually have "clamshell" design, in which the keyboard and computer components are on one panel and a flat display screen on a second panel, which is hinged to the first panel. The laptop is opened for use and closed for transport. Closing the laptop also protects the screen and keyboard during transportation. Laptops have both a power cable that can be plugged in and high-capacity "batteries that can power the device, enhancing its portability. Once the battery charge is depleted, it will have to be recharged through a power outlet. In the interests of saving power, weight and space, laptop graphics cards are in many cases integrated into the CPU or chipset and use system RAM, resulting in reduced graphics performance when compared to an equivalent desktop machine. For this reason, desktop or gaming computers are usually preferred to laptop PCs for gaming purposes.
One of the drawbacks of laptops is that, due to the size and configuration of components, usually relatively little can be done to upgrade the overall computer from its original design or add components. Internal upgrades are either not manufacturer-recommended, can damage the laptop if done with poor care or knowledge, or in some cases impossible, making the desktop PC more modular and upgradable. Desktop PCs typically have a case that has extra empty space inside, where users can install new components. Some internal upgrades to laptops, such as memory and hard disk drive upgrades are often easily performed, while a display or keyboard upgrade is usually difficult or impossible. Just like desktops, laptops also have the same input and output ports for connecting to a wide variety of devices, including external displays, mice, cameras, storage devices and keyboards, which may be attached externally through USB ports and other less common ports such as external video. Laptops are also a little more expensive compared to desktops, as the miniaturized components for laptops themselves are expensive.
A subtype of notebooks, called "subnotebook, has most of the features of a standard laptop computer, but with smaller physical dimensions. Subnotebooks are larger than "hand-held computers, and usually run full versions of desktop or laptop operating systems. "Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC) are usually considered subnotebooks, or more specifically, subnotebook "tablet PCs, which are described below. "Netbooks are sometimes considered to belong to this category, though they are sometimes separated into a category of their own (see below).
A desktop replacement computer (DTR) is a personal computer that provides the full capabilities of a "desktop computer while remaining "mobile. Such computers are often actually larger, bulkier "laptops. Because of their increased size, this class of computers usually includes more powerful components and a larger display than generally found in smaller portable computers, and can have a relatively limited battery capacity or none at all in some cases. Some use a limited range of desktop components to provide better performance at the expense of battery life. Desktop replacement computers are sometimes called desknotes, as a "portmanteau of words "desktop" and "notebook," though the term is also applied to desktop replacement computers in general.
"Netbooks, also called mini notebooks or "subnotebooks, are a subgroup of laptops acting as a category of small, lightweight and inexpensive "laptop computers suited for general computing tasks and accessing "web-based applications. They are often marketed as "companion devices", with an intention to augment other ways in which a user can access computer resources. "Walt Mossberg called them a "relatively new category of small, light, minimalist and cheap laptops." By August 2009, "CNET called netbooks "nothing more than smaller, cheaper notebooks." Initially, the primary defining characteristic of netbooks was the lack of an "optical disc drive, requiring it to be a separate external device. This has become less important as "flash memory devices have gradually increased in capacity, replacing the writable optical disc (e.g. "CD-RW, "DVD-RW) as a transportable storage medium.
At their inception in late 2007—as smaller notebooks optimized for low weight and low cost—netbooks omitted key features (e.g., the "optical drive), featured smaller screens and keyboards, and offered reduced specifications and computing power. Over the course of their evolution, netbooks have ranged in their screen sizes from below five inches to over 13 inches, with weights around ~1 kg (2-3 pounds). Often significantly less expensive than other "laptops, by mid-2009 netbooks had been offered to users "free of charge", with an extended service contract purchase of a cellular data plan. In the short period since their appearance, netbooks have grown in size and features, converging with new smaller and lighter notebooks. By mid-2009, CNET noted that "the specs are so similar that the average shopper would likely be confused as to why one is better than the other," noting "the only conclusion is that there really is no distinction between the devices."
A "tablet is a type of portable PC that de-emphasizes the use of traditional input devices (such as a "mouse or "keyboard) by using 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 run a traditional PC operating system such as Windows or Linux; Microsoft attempted to enter the tablet market in 2002 with its "Microsoft Tablet PC specifications, for tablets and convertible laptops running "Windows XP. However, Microsoft's early attempts were overshadowed by the release of Apple's "iPad; following in its footsteps, most modern tablets use slate designs and run "mobile operating systems such as "Android and "iOS, giving them functionality similar to "smartphones. In response, Microsoft built its "Windows 8 operating system to better accommodate these new touch-oriented devices. Many tablet computers have USB ports, to which a keyboard or mouse can be connected.
The ultra-mobile PC (UMP) is a specification for small-configuration "tablet PCs. It was developed as a joint development exercise by "Microsoft, "Intel and "Samsung, among others. Current UMPCs typically feature the Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Linux "operating system, and low-voltage Intel "Atom or "VIA C7-M processors.
A pocket PC is a hardware specification for a handheld-sized computer ("personal digital assistant, PDA) that runs the "Microsoft "Windows Mobile "operating system. It may have the capability to run an alternative "operating system like "NetBSD or "Linux. Pocket PCs have many of the capabilities of modern desktop "PCs. Numerous "applications are available for handhelds adhering to the Microsoft Pocket PC specification, many of which are "freeware. Some of these devices also include "mobile phone features, actually representing a "smartphone. Microsoft-compliant Pocket PCs can also be used with many other add-ons like "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.
"Computer hardware is a comprehensive term for all physical 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. The boundary between hardware and software has become blurred, with the existence of firmware that is software "built into" the hardware. For example, a 2010-era LCD display screen contains a small computer inside. Mass-market consumer computers use highly standardized components and so are simple for an "end user to assemble into a working system. Most 2010s-era computers only require users 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 "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, "keyboard, and a "pointing device ("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 memory modules plug into corresponding memory 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 "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 computers hardware can sometimes be extended by the addition of "expansion cards connected via an expansion "bus. Standard peripheral buses often used for adding expansion cards in personal computers include "PCI, "PCI Express (PCIe), and "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 of the having PCI slots as well.
A computer case is an enclosure that contains the main components of a "computer. They are usually constructed from "steel or "aluminum combined with "plastic, although other materials such as "wood have been used for specialized units. Cases are available in different sizes and shapes; the size and shape of a computer case is usually determined by the configuration of the "motherboard that it is designed to accommodate, since this is the largest and most central component of most computers. The most popular style for desktop computers is "ATX, although "microATX and similar layouts became very popular for a variety of uses. Companies like "Shuttle Inc. and "AOpen have popularized small cases, for which "FlexATX is the most common motherboard size. In the 1990s, desktop computer cases were larger and taller than 2010-era computer cases.
Power supply unit
The power supply unit (PSU) converts general-purpose "mains AC electricity to "direct current (DC) for the other components of the computer. The rated output capacity of a PSU should usually be about 40% greater than the calculated system power consumption needs obtained by adding up all the system components. This protects against overloading the supply, and guards against performance degradation.
The "central processing unit, or CPU, is a part of a computer that executes instructions of a software "program. In newer PCs, the CPU contains over a million transistors in one integrated circuit chip called the "microprocessor. In most cases, the microprocessor plugs directly into the motherboard. The chip generates so much heat that the PC builder is required to attach a special cooling device to its surface; thus, modern CPUs are equipped with a "fan attached via "heat sink. "IBM PC compatible computers use an "x86-compatible microprocessor, manufactured by "Intel, "AMD, "VIA Technologies or "Transmeta. Apple Macintosh computers were initially built with the "Motorola 680x0 family of processors, then switched to the "PowerPC series; in 2006, they switched to x86-compatible processors made by Intel.
The motherboard, also referred to as system board or main board, is the primary "circuit board within a personal computer, and other major system components plug directly into it or via a cable. A motherboard contains a microprocessor, the "CPU supporting circuitry (mostly "integrated circuits) that provide the interface between memory and input/output peripheral circuits, main memory, and facilities for initial setup of the computer immediately after power-on (often called boot "firmware or, in IBM PC compatible computers, a "BIOS or "UEFI). In many portable and embedded personal computers, the motherboard houses nearly all of the PC's core components. Often a motherboard will also contain one or more peripheral buses and physical connectors for expansion purposes. Sometimes a secondary "daughter board is connected to the motherboard to provide further expandability or to satisfy space constraints.
A PC's main memory is a fast "primary storage device that is directly accessible by the CPU, and is used to store the currently executing program and immediately needed data. PCs use "semiconductor "random-access memory (RAM) of various kinds such as "DRAM, SDRAM or "SRAM as their primary storage. Which exact kind is used depends on cost/performance issues at any particular time. Main memory is much faster than mass storage devices like "hard disk drives or "optical discs, but is usually "volatile, meaning that it does not retain its contents (instructions or data) in the absence of power, and is much more expensive for a given capacity than is most mass storage. As a result, main memory is generally not suitable for long-term or archival data storage.
Mass storage devices store programs and data even when the power is off; they do require power to perform read and write functions during usage. Although "flash memory has dropped in cost, the prevailing form of mass storage in personal computers is still the "hard disk drive. If the mass storage controller provides additional ports for expandability, a PC may also be upgraded by the addition of extra hard disk or "optical disc drives. For example, "BD-ROMs, "DVD-RWs, and various optical disc recorders may all be added by the user to certain PCs. Standard internal storage device connection interfaces are "PATA, "Serial ATA and "SCSI. Solid state drives ("SSDs) are a much faster replacement for traditional mechanical hard disk drives, but are also more expensive in terms of cost per gigabyte.
Visual display unit
A visual display unit, computer monitor or just display, is a piece of "electrical equipment, usually separate from the computer case, which displays visual "images without producing a permanent computer record. A display device was usually either a "CRT in the 1980s, but by the 2000s, flat panel displays such as a "TFT LCD had largely replaced the bulkier, heavier CRT screens. "Multi-monitor setups are quite common in the 2010s, as they enable a user to display multiple programs at the same time (e.g., an email inbox and a word processing program). The display unit "houses an "electronic circuitry that generates its picture from "signals received from the computer. Within the computer, either integral to the motherboard or plugged into it as an "expansion card, there is pre-processing circuitry to convert the microprocessor's output "data to a format compatible with the display unit's circuitry. The images from computer monitors originally contained only text, but as "graphical user interfaces emerged and became common, they began to display more images and multimedia content. The term "monitor" is also used, particularly by technicians in "broadcasting television, where a picture of the broadcast data is displayed to a highly standardized "reference monitor for confidence checking purposes.
The "video card—otherwise called a graphics card, graphics adapter or video adapter—processes the graphics output from the motherboard and transmits it to the display. It is an essential part of modern multimedia-enriched computing. On older models, and today on budget models, graphics circuitry may be integrated with the motherboard, but for modern and flexible machines, they are connected by the "PCI, "AGP, or "PCI Express interface. When the IBM PC was introduced, most existing business-oriented personal computers used text-only display adapters and had no graphics capability. Home computers at that time had graphics compatible with television signals, but with low resolution by modern standards owing to the limited memory available to the eight-bit processors available at the time.
A "keyboard is an arrangement of buttons that each correspond to a function, letter, or number. They are the primary devices used for inputting text. In most cases, they contain an array of keys specifically organized with the corresponding letters, numbers, and functions printed or engraved on the button. They are generally designed around an operators language, and many different versions for different languages exist. In English, the most common layout is the "QWERTY layout, which was originally used in "typewriters. They have evolved over time, and have been modified for use in computers with the addition of function keys, number keys, arrow keys, and keys specific to an operating system. Often, specific functions can be achieved by pressing multiple keys at once or in succession, such as inputting characters with accents or opening a task manager. Programs use keyboard shortcuts very differently and all use different keyboard shortcuts for different program specific operations, such as refreshing a "web page in a "web browser or selecting all text in a word processor. In addition to the alphabetic keys found on a typewriter, computer keyboards typically have a numeric keyboard and a row of "function keys and special keys, such as "CNTRL, "ALT, "DEL and "Esc.
A computer "mouse is a small handheld device that users hold and slide across a flat surface, pointing at various elements of a graphical user interface with an on-screen "cursor, and selecting and moving objects using the mouse buttons. Almost all modern personal computers include a mouse; it may be plugged into a computer's rear mouse socket, or as a "USB device, or, more recently, may be connected wirelessly via an USB dongle or Bluetooth link. In the past, mice had a single button that users could press down on the device to "click" on whatever the pointer on the screen was hovering over. Modern mice have two, three or more buttons, providing a "right click" function button on the mouse, which performs a secondary action on a selected object, and a scroll wheel, which users can rotate using their fingers to "scroll" up or down. The scroll wheel can also be pressed down, and therefore be used as a third button. Some mouse wheels may be tilted from side to side to allow sideways scrolling. Different programs make use of these functions differently, and may scroll horizontally by default with the scroll wheel, open different menus with different buttons, etc. These functions may be also user-defined through software utilities. Mice traditionally detected movement and communicated with the computer with an internal "mouse ball", and used optical "encoders to detect rotation of the ball and tell the computer where the mouse has moved. However, these systems were subject to low durability, accuracy and required internal cleaning. Modern mice use optical technology to directly trace movement of the surface under the mouse and are much more accurate, durable and almost maintenance free. They work on a wider variety of surfaces and can even operate on walls, ceilings or other non-horizontal surfaces.
All computers require either fixed or removable storage for their operating system, programs and user-generated material. Early "home computers used "compact audio cassettes for file storage; these were at the time a very low cost storage solution, but were displaced by floppy disk drives when manufacturing costs dropped, by the mid-1980s. Initially, the 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch "floppy drives were the principal forms of removable storage for backup of user files and distribution of software. As memory sizes increased, the capacity of the floppy did not keep pace; the "Zip drive and other higher-capacity removable media were introduced but never became as prevalent as the floppy drive. By the late 1990s, the "optical drive, in "CD and later "DVD and "Blu-ray Disc forms, became the main method for software distribution, and writeable media provided means for data backup and file interchange. As a result, floppy drives became uncommon in desktop personal computers since about 2000, and were dropped from many laptop systems even earlier.[note 1]
A second generation of tape recorders was provided when "videocassette recorders were pressed into service as backup media for larger disk drives. All these systems were less reliable and slower than purpose-built magnetic tape drives. Such tape drives were uncommon in consumer-type personal computers but were a necessity in business or industrial use. Interchange of data such as photographs from digital cameras is greatly expedited by installation of a "card reader, which is often compatible with several forms of "flash memory devices. It is usually faster and more convenient to move large amounts of data by removing the card from the "mobile device, instead of communicating with the mobile device through a "USB interface.
A "USB flash drive performs much of the data transfer and backup functions formerly done with floppy drives, "Zip disks and other devices. Mainstream operating systems for personal computers provide built-in support for USB flash drives, allowing interchange even between computers with different processors and operating systems. The compact size and lack of moving parts or dirt-sensitive media, combined with low cost and high capacity, have made USB flash drives a popular and useful accessory for any personal computer user.
The "operating system can be located on any storage, but is typically installed on a hard disk or solid-state drive. A "Live CD represents the concept of running an operating system directly from a CD. While this is slow compared to storing the operating system on a hard disk drive, it is typically used for installation of operating systems, demonstrations, system recovery, or other special purposes. Large flash memory is currently more expensive than hard disk drives of similar size (as of mid-2014) but are starting to appear in laptop computers because of their low weight, small size and low power requirements. Computer communications involve "internal modem cards, "modems, "network adapter cards, and "routers. Common "peripherals and adapter cards include "headsets, "joysticks, "microphones, "printers, "scanners, "sound adapter cards (as a separate card rather than located on the motherboard), "speakers and "webcams.
Computer software is any kind of "computer program, "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 systems that interface with "computer hardware to provide the necessary services for application software, and "middleware that controls and co-ordinates "distributed systems.
Software applications are common for "word processing, "Internet browsing, "Internet faxing, "e-mail and other digital messaging, "multimedia playback, playing of "computer game, and "computer programming. The user of a modern personal computer 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 ""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.
An operating system (OS) manages computer resources and provides programmers with an "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 "memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling "input and output devices, facilitating "computer networking, and managing files.
Common contemporary desktop operating systems are "Microsoft Windows, "OS X, "Linux, "Solaris and "FreeBSD. Windows, OS X, and Linux all have server and personal variants. With the exception of Microsoft Windows, the designs of each of them were inspired by or directly inherited from the "Unix operating system, which was developed at "Bell Labs beginning in the late 1960s and spawned the development of numerous free and proprietary operating systems.
Microsoft Windows is the collective brand name of several operating systems made by "Microsoft which, as of 2015, are installed on PCs built by "HP, "Dell and "Lenovo, the three remaining high volume manufacturers. Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 1985, as an add-on to "MS-DOS and in response to the growing interest in "graphical user interfaces (GUIs) generated by Apple's "1984 introduction of the "Macintosh. As of January 2017[update], the most recent client and server version of Windows are "Windows 10 and "Windows Server 2016.
"macOS (formerly OS X) is a line of "operating systems developed, marketed and sold by "Apple Inc. macOS is the successor to the original "Mac OS, which had been Apple's primary operating system since 1984. macOS is a Unix-based "graphical operating system, and "Snow Leopard, "Leopard, "Lion, "Mountain Lion, "Mavericks, "Yosemite and "El Capitan are its version codenames. The most recent version of macOS is codenamed "macOS Sierra.
On "iPhone, "iPad and "iPod, versions of iOS (which is an OS X derivative) are available from iOS 1.0 to the recent "iOS 10. The iOS devices, however, are not considered PCs.
Linux is a family of "Unix-like computer operating systems. Linux is one of the most prominent examples of "free software and "open source development: typically all underlying "source code can be freely modified, used, and redistributed by anyone. The name "Linux" refers to the "Linux kernel, started in 1991 by "Linus Torvalds. The system's "utilities and "libraries usually come from the "GNU operating system, announced in 1983 by "Richard Stallman. The GNU contribution is the basis for the "alternative name GNU/Linux.
Known for its use in "servers, with the "LAMP application stack as one of prominent examples, Linux is supported by corporations such as "Dell, "Hewlett-Packard, "IBM, "Novell, "Oracle Corporation, "Red Hat, "Canonical Ltd. and "Sun Microsystems. It is used as an operating system for a wide variety of "computer hardware, including "desktop computers, "netbooks, "supercomputers, video game systems such as the "Steam Machine or "PlayStation 3 (until this option was removed remotely by "Sony in 2010), several "arcade games, and "embedded devices such as "mobile phones, "portable media players, "routers, and "stage lighting systems.
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Generally, a computer user uses application software to carry out a specific task. "System software supports applications and provides common services such as memory management, network connectivity and device drivers, all of which may be used by applications but are not directly of interest to the end user. A simplified "analogy in the world of hardware would be the relationship of an electric light bulb (an application) to an electric power generation plant (a system): the power plant merely generates electricity, not itself of any real use until harnessed to an application like the electric light that performs a service that benefits the user.
Typical examples of software applications are "word processors, "spreadsheets, and "media players. Multiple applications bundled together as a package are sometimes referred to as an application suite. "Microsoft Office and "LibreOffice, which bundle together a word processor, a spreadsheet, and several other discrete applications, are typical examples. The separate applications in a suite usually have a "user interface that has some commonality making it easier for the user to learn and use each application. Often, they may have some capability to interact with each other in ways beneficial to the user; for example, a spreadsheet might be able to be embedded in a word processor document even though it had been created in the separate spreadsheet application.
"End-user development tailors systems to meet the user's specific needs. User-written software include spreadsheet templates, word processor macros, scientific simulations, graphics and animation scripts; even email filters are a kind of user software. Users create this software themselves and often overlook how important it is.
"PC gaming is popular among the high-end PC market. According to an April 2014 market analysis, Gaming platforms like "Steam (software), "Uplay, "Origin, and "GOG.com (as well as competitive e-sports titles like "League of Legends) are largely responsible for PC systems overtaking console revenue in 2013.
In 2001, 125 million personal computers were shipped in comparison to 48,000 in 1977. More than 500 million personal computers were in use in 2002 and one "billion personal computers had been sold worldwide from the mid-1970s up to this time. Of the latter figure, 75% were professional or work related, while the rest were sold for personal or home use. About 81.5% of personal computers shipped had been "desktop computers, 16.4% "laptops and 2.1% "servers. The United States had received 38.8% (394 million) of the computers shipped, Europe 25% and 11.7% had gone to the Asia-Pacific region, the fastest-growing market as of 2002. The second billion was expected to be sold by 2008. Almost half of all households in "Western Europe had a personal computer and a computer could be found in 40% of homes in United Kingdom, compared with only 13% in 1985.
The global personal computer shipments were 350.9 million units in 2010, 308.3 million units in 2009 and 302.2 million units in 2008. The shipments were 264 million units in the year 2007, according to iSuppli, up 11.2% from 239 million in 2006. In 2004, the global shipments were 183 million units, an 11.6% increase over 2003. In 2003, 152.6 million computers were shipped, at an estimated value of $175 billion. In 2002, 136.7 million PCs were shipped, at an estimated value of $175 billion. In 2000, 140.2 million personal computers were shipped, at an estimated value of $226 billion. Worldwide shipments of personal computers surpassed the 100-million mark in 1999, growing to 113.5 million units from 93.3 million units in 1998. In 1999, Asia had 14.1 million units shipped.
As of June 2008, the number of personal computers in use worldwide hit one billion, while another billion is expected to be reached by 2014. Mature markets like the United States, "Western Europe and Japan accounted for 58% of the worldwide installed PCs. The "emerging markets were expected to double their installed PCs by 2012 and to take 70% of the second billion PCs. About 180 million computers (16% of the existing installed base) were expected to be replaced and 35 million to be dumped into landfill in 2008. The whole installed base grew 12% annually.
Based on "International Data Corporation (IDC) data for Q2 2011, for the first time China surpassed US in PC shipments by 18.5 million and 17.7 million respectively. This trend reflects the rising of emerging markets as well as the relative stagnation of mature regions.
In the "developed world, there has been a vendor tradition to keep adding functions to maintain high prices of personal computers. However, since the introduction of the "One Laptop per Child foundation and its low-cost "XO-1 laptop, the computing industry started to pursue the price too. Although introduced only one year earlier, there were 14 million "netbooks sold in 2008. Besides the regular computer manufacturers, companies making especially rugged versions of computers have sprung up, offering alternatives for people operating their machines in extreme weather or environments.
In 2011, "Deloitte consulting firm predicted that, "smartphones and "tablet computers as computing devices would surpass the PCs sales (as has happened since 2012). As of 2013, worldwide sales of PCs had begun to fall as many consumers moved to tablets and smartphones for gifts and personal use. Sales of 90.3 million units in the 4th quarter of 2012 represented a 4.9% decline from sales in the 4th quarter of 2011. Global PC sales fell sharply in the first quarter of 2013, according to IDC data. The 14% year-over-year decline was the largest on record since the firm began tracking in 1994, and double what analysts had been expecting. The decline of Q2 2013 PC shipments marked the fifth straight quarter of falling sales. "This is horrific news for PCs," remarked an analyst. "It's all about mobile computing now. We have definitely reached the tipping point." Data from "Gartner Inc. showed a similar decline for the same time period. China's "Lenovo Group bucked the general trend as strong sales to first time buyers in the developing world allowed the company's sales to stay flat overall. "Windows 8, which was designed to look similar to tablet/smartphone software, was cited as a contributing factor in the decline of new PC sales. "Unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only didn’t provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said IDC Vice President Bob O’Donnell.
In August 2013, Credit Suisse published research findings that attributed around 75% of the operating profit share of the PC industry to Microsoft (operating system) and Intel (semiconductors). According to IDC, in 2013 PC shipments dropped by 9.8% as the greatest drop-ever in line with consumers trends to use mobile devices.
Average selling price
Selling prices of personal computers steadily declined due to lower costs of production and manufacture, while the capabilities of computers increased. In 1975, an Altair kit sold for only around US$400, but required customers to solder components into circuit boards; peripherals required to interact with the system in alphanumeric form instead of blinking lights would add another $2,000, and the resultant system was only of use to hobbyists.
At their introduction in 1981, the US$1,795 price of the "Osborne 1 and its competitor "Kaypro was considered an attractive price point; these systems had text-only displays and only floppy disks for storage. By 1982, "Michael Dell observed that a personal computer system selling at retail for about $3,000 US was made of components that cost the dealer about $600; typical gross margin on a computer unit was around $1,000. The total value of personal computer purchases in the US in 1983 was about $4 billion, comparable to total sales of "pet food. By late 1998, the average selling price of personal computer systems in the United States had dropped below $1,000.
For "Microsoft Windows systems, the "average selling price (ASP) showed a decline in 2008/2009, possibly due to low-cost "netbooks, drawing $569 for "desktop computers and $689 for "laptops at U.S. retail in August 2008. In 2009, ASP had further fallen to $533 for desktops and to $602 for notebooks by January and to $540 and $560 in February. According to research firm "NPD, the average selling price of all Windows portable PCs has fallen from $659 in October 2008 to $519 in October 2009.
Personal computing can fulfill individual needs, but that fulfillment may come at a cost to society as well, especially in terms of environmental impact, although this impact differs between desktop computers and laptops. Toxic chemicals found in some computer hardware include "lead, "mercury, "cadmium, "chromium, "plastic (PVC), and "barium. Overall, a computer is about 17% lead, "copper, "zinc, mercury, and cadmium; 23% is "plastic, 14% is "aluminum, and 20% is "iron. Lead is found in a "cathode ray tube (CRT) display, and on all of the "printed circuit boards and most "expansion cards. Mercury is located in the screen's "fluorescent lamp, in the laser light generators in the "optical disk drive, and in the round, silver-looking batteries on the motherboard. Plastic is found mostly in the housing of the computation and display circuitry. While daily end-users are not exposed to these toxic elements, the danger arises during the "computer recycling process, which involves manually breaking down hardware and leads to the exposure of a measurable amount of lead or mercury. A measurable amount of lead or mercury can easily cause serious brain damage or ruin drinking water supplies. Computer recycling is best handled by the "electronic waste (e-waste) industry, and kept segregated from the general community "dump.
Electronic waste regulation
Personal computers have become a large contributor to the 50 million tons of discarded electronic waste that is being generated annually, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. To address the "electronic waste issue affecting developing countries and the environment, "extended producer responsibility (EPR) acts have been implemented in various countries and states. Organizations, such as the "Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, "Basel Action Network, Toxics Link India, SCOPE, and "Greenpeace have contributed to these efforts. In the absence of comprehensive national legislation or regulation on the export and import of electronic waste, the "Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and BAN (Basel Action Network) teamed up with 32 electronic recyclers in the US and Canada to create an e-steward program for the orderly disposal of manufacturers and customers electronic waste. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition founded the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a coalition that advocates for the production of environmentally friendly products. The TakeBack Coalition works with policy makers, recyclers, and smart businesses to get manufacturers to take full responsibility of their products. There are organizations opposing EPR regulation, such as the "Reason Foundation. They see flaws in two principal tenets of EPR: First EPR relies on the idea that if the manufacturers have to pay for environmental harm, they will adapt their practices. Second EPR assumes the current design practices are environmentally inefficient. The Reason Foundation claims that manufacturers naturally move toward reduced material and energy use.
- "Computer case
- "Computer virus
- "Desktop computer
- "Desktop replacement computer
- "IBM 5100
- "Information and communication technologies for development
- "List of computer system manufacturers
- "Market share of personal computer vendors
- "Personal Computer Museum
- "Portable computer
- "Public computer
- "Quiet PC
- "PC game
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