A personal computer is a non-shared computing device, small in size, suitable for home use, fully digital, capable of accurately processing, solving, and satisfying the needs of users.
Although the first devices were far from what we know today, we cannot fail to highlight that their essence and their parts, although now modified, are essentially the same.
Parts of a Personal Computer
We consider that a personal computer is made up of the following parts:
- Motherboard: It is the component that fits all the other components together and brings them to life, from the most basic pieces of hardware to the most innovative.
- Processor: As the name suggests, this is the component that processes information about the computer’s operation, from startup to auxiliary tasks.
- Heatsink: Element that dissipates energy (in this case heat) generated by a component while it is in operation. In this way, the temperature is kept at an acceptable level for the unit to function.
- RAM memory: It can be said that it is a fast access memory that is used as an escape method and is part of the operating load of the device.
- Hard drive: It is the hardware where all data and the operating system are stored.
- Power supply: The item that supplies power to the device.
- Peripherals: Although they are not necessary for the computer to work, some are necessary for us to obtain information from it, and vice versa, for example, the mouse and the screen.
- Computer case: It is the box that houses these and other components. It has a specific shape to easily place the elements that we have already seen to optimize space.
History of the Personal Computer
The idea of the personal computer arose because the general public demanded it. First large companies, then laboratories, etc. It only remained to do it on a personal level.
The first model conceived was Program 101. This is the device that helped put people on the moon in 1969.
In 1977, Commodore and Apple introduced two computers, the PET 2001 and the Apple II, which they promoted as personal computers, although to be fair, the predecessor to what we’ve always thought of as a personal computer was the IBM PC.
The key to making these three devices, was the need and development of spreadsheet software, which turned these computers into work tools first in the office and then at home.
These three models have sold hundreds. By the end of the decade, there were dozens of different brands of computers, and the competition was cheap enough to make them, which meant that by the beginning of the next decade, everyone would have a computer in their home.
Development: Shorter Steps, Faster Progress
If you consider the impact of each technology at that time, the development of computing devices was quite rapid. So much so that it occurred in different generations.
First (1940-1952) and Second Generations(1958-1964)
The first generation of computers began in the 1940s when the use of machines in a fully digitized process began to achieve precise results. Six years later, ENIAC appeared, famous for being the first computer made of tubes and using the simplest machine language we know of. Non-programmable and 30 meters long, this was an experimental project that never made it into a production model.
In 1949 another prototype appeared, also for a laboratory, which was never intended to be launched, but rather as a test element to advance in this field. Perhaps the EDVAC was the first device conceptually related to current computers.
In 1951, the UNIVAC I went on sale, the first computer in history, which was also the first product of the company that promoted it. Obviously, the client was the US Census Bureau, solely for the purposes of mathematical calculations.
Two years later, the long-time best-selling computer IBM 701 appeared on the market.
The point that marks the beginning of the Second, was the replacement of vacuum tubes in the manufacture of computers, which began to carry transistors. This means that the devices are much smaller and therefore consume less power. Now computers have started to work with high-level languages that are more complex than the machine languages that were used before. This is thanks to the work of Maurice Wilkes, who invented so-called microprograms, which simplified the development of computing devices.
Third (1965-1971) and Fourth Generations(1971-1980)
The fact that third-generation computers were built using integrated circuits on silicon chips made it possible to increase processing power while reducing the size and cost of the device. Almost immediately after only one model with these circuits became popular, microprocessors appeared (the first being the Intel 4004). It is the combination of these two elements that makes it possible to package small transistors and many other elements on the same complete circuit chip, which in turn provides unimaginable efficiency related to device assembly.
In the fourth computer revolution, we see the development of the microprocessor and the microchip. Another important aspect that marked this era was the development of the personal computer, the machine we are talking about today, a small device for home use. In fact, this device is achieved by reducing the size of the microprocessor on the chip.
Fifth (1981-2000) And Sixth Generations (2000-Present)
With the advent of the first laptop came a new, sweeping revolution. With the inexorable advancement of computer technology, software efforts have grown exponentially. The turning point of this generation was the CD player.
The advent of wireless connectivity ushered in a new generation that we are still in. Connectivity, network cards, device design, phone development, and the emergence of truly smart elements have improved.
What Is a Personal Computer Used For?
Answering this question is easy and difficult. It’s simple because computers can be used for almost anything these days, and if it won’t let us do something, it will at least teach us how to do it.
One feature that they currently have, but by no means their main feature, is the storage of digital content. It can be generated by the computer itself, by us, by someone else generating and downloading it, or even generated it by us with another device and uploaded onto the computer so that it stays there.
Most of the people use the computer as an entertainment item. Today, the possibilities are hundreds. We can play video games, listen to music, chat, create social media profiles and meet friends, write blogs, make entertaining videos ourselves or admire the works of famous and unknown people, draw pictures, watch TV series and movies (online or downloaded), and even connect it to a TV for an enhanced entertainment experience.
- Work activities
On the other hand, this equipment also enables operations that support or facilitate the work of many professionals. Write letters, send emails to customers, partners, and employees; create design elements for brand identity, do bookkeeping, manage warehouse resources, search the Internet for resources to organize the next company party, organize meetings with clients, contracts, or obtain information from each meeting.
- Domestic activities
Of course, there are also activities that are neither leisure nor work, which are called family activities. We can do several things like write down shopping lists, and transfer them to our mobile phone, make a demo for our final degree project, check our emails, find a job on an employment network platform, etc.
What Personal Computer Is Best for You? Desktop PC Or Laptop?
Other than size, is there any difference between a laptop and a desktop PC? In this last section, we’ll take a look at the differences between these two devices and which is the right personal computer for you.
The main and most obvious difference is portability. Desktop computers are not portable; besides being large, they need to be plugged in to work, while the main function of laptops is to be portable, with enough space, and a rechargeable battery. When it comes to energy, it’s also a big difference. Laptops consume less power than desktop computers.
The advantage of desktop computers is that they can be improved by integrating new components very easily. Most of its components are readily available and easy to install on the system. Laptops, on the other hand, are not as functional in design when it comes to components.
If you’re a gamer, you’ll notice the biggest difference is the ability to use a graphics card to play games at higher resolutions.
Finally, there is also the cost, which is much more expensive for laptops due to the limited range of these components. Although desktop computers are more flexible when it comes to components, you can save a lot, especially if you build it yourself.
All in all, we can say that if portability is most important to you, a laptop is the obvious choice. If you want your money’s worth, a desktop is your best bet, though you’ll have to sacrifice portability.
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