Personal Computer Essay

972 Words 4 Pages
The history of the personal computer as mass-market consumer electronic devices effectively began in 1977 with the introduction of microcomputers, although some mainframe and minicomputers had been applied as single-user systems much earlier. A personal computer is one intended for interactive individual use, as opposed to a mainframe computer where the end user 's requests are filtered through operating staff, or a time sharing system in which one large processor is shared by many individuals. After the development of the microprocessor, individual personal computers were low enough in cost that they eventually became affordable consumer goods. Early personal computers – generally called microcomputers– were sold often in electronic kit form …show more content…
Before the introduction of the microprocessor in the early 1970s, computers were generally large, costly systems owned by large corporations, universities, government agencies, and similar-sized institutions. End users generally did not directly interact with the machine, but instead would prepare tasks for the computer on off-line equipment, such as card punches. A number of assignments for the computer would be gathered up and processed in batch mode. After the job had completed, users could collect the results. In some cases it could take hours or days between submitting a job to the computing center and receiving the output.

A more interactive form of computer use developed commercially by the middle 1960s. In a time-sharing system, multiple computer terminals let many people share the use of one mainframe computer processor. This was common in business applications and in science and
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in 1962. Some of the first computers that might be called "personal" were early minicomputers such as the LINC and PDP-8, and later on VAX and larger minicomputers from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Data General, Prime Computer, and others. By today 's standards they were very large (about the size of a refrigerator) and cost prohibitive (typically tens of thousands of US dollars). However, they were much smaller, less expensive, and generally simpler to operate than many of the mainframe computers of the time. Therefore, they were accessible for individual laboratories and research projects. Minicomputers largely freed these organizations from the batch processing and bureaucracy of a commercial or university computing center.

In addition, minicomputers were relatively interactive and soon had their own operating systems. The minicomputer Xerox Alto (1973) was a landmark step in the development of personal computers, because of its graphical user interface, bit-mapped high resolution

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