In the early 19th century, English mathematician Charles Babbage came up with the idea of computing tables using calculating machines. Even though the project was a failure, a century later, we built the first computer. And today, millions of units of computers are sold each year. With features such as speed, accuracy, reliability, and versatility, computers have become an important part of our everyday lives. We can perform many functions such as storing, retrieving, and processing data. It consists of hardware and software, where hardware is a physical structure that includes a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and more. In contrast, software represents computer instructions that include programs associated with operations. With the overview, let’s explore the different types of computers.
Also known as a personal computer, it is designed for a single user. It has a single microprocessor as its CPU. When compared to other types of computers, the microcomputer has limited size and storage capacity. Mostly, it is used for personal purposes such as education and entertainment. At the workplace, it is used for presentations, spreadsheets, word processing, and database management systems. It is further classified into the following types:
The desktop computer is designed to stay at one location and use connected peripheral devices for interaction. The keyboard and mouse provide input and the monitor displays the output. Even though the other types of microcomputers, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, are used widely, and their number is growing, desktop computers still have millions of daily users.
The laptop computer is quite popular because of its portability feature, which made working on the go possible. Unlike desktop computers, it does not have peripherals connected by default. However, it offers the option of connecting them, turning them into a desktop computer with the benefits of disconnecting them anytime and moving the computer.
The tablet computer is small compared to the desktop, but it displays a good amount of information. The intention behind developing the tablet was to have a computer that can give the vibes of a book. It can be used for several purposes such as playing music, browsing the web, and reading books and magazines.
The smartphone is a type of microcomputer where you can run various programs. It is so popular that almost everyone owns it. The list of applications that you can download on your smartphone is endless. You can perform several functions such as dialing and receiving calls, sending text messages, setting alarms, recording audio and video, using virtual assistants, and many others.
Personal digital assistant(PDA)
A PDA is a pocket computer used for storing and retrieving data. A few of its examples are Siri from Apple and Alexa from Amazon. Since smartphones can perform most of our everyday tasks, PDA is rarely used. But it is still in demand for keeping information handy.
Minicomputers are in the category between microcomputers and mainframe computers for multiple reasons. The minicomputer is smaller compared to mainframe computers, but larger compared to microcomputers. In terms of computing power, it is better than personal computers but cannot compete with mainframe computers. Minicomputer was a popular choice in computers in the early 90s and is notable for providing multiple terminals for various users. However, it is still designed to be less complex than the mainframe computers, and its large memory makes it preferable among institutions for daily operations. It is used for the purpose of managing data, controlling processes, and communicating. In the process control, a minicomputer is used to acquire data and feedback, assisting in recognizing the issues and implementing corrective actions.
3. Mainframe computer
The mainframe computer has high computational power, making it an ideal choice for executing multiple transactions per second. Some organizations, especially mission-critical ones, need to process a huge amount of data simultaneously, which is where it excels. This computer can also store an enormous amount of data thanks to huge storage space on a disk and tape. It used to be massive and cost a fortune but decades later, thanks to technological advancements, we have agile mainframe computers that manage various operating systems. It has wide applications over various sectors such as health care, banking, finance, government, insurance, and other enterprises.
In the health care sector, millions of bits of information are stored daily. In the medical field, this data includes personal information, diseases, and treatment of the patients, which must be processed afterward and oftentimes accessed by patients at any given time.
Financial and insurance sector
Banks and financial institutions use mainframe computers for reliability, as they can maintain records of millions of transactions each second worldwide. In the insurance sector, this entry among the types of computer handles data, eventually helping in conducting risk assessment, setting prices, and investing in the right market. Today, most of our communication takes place in real-time, making it essential for enterprises to use high computational power to perform these tasks.
The supercomputer has a high-performance level measured in terms of floating-point operations per second (FLOP). The performance of the other types of computer is measured in a million instructions per second (MIPS). A supercomputer is an ideal choice for real-time applications because it can perform trillions of calculations or computations per second. The best part about a supercomputer is that it has a huge storage capacity and can be accessed by multiple users concurrently.
It has various applications such as weather forecasting, aerodynamics, quantum mechanics, cryptoanalysis, scientific research, etc. In weather forecasting, it is used to get accurate warnings on severe weather conditions, helping to protect from their impact. If you think about it, a supercomputer can be an expensive investment. But in the long run, it lowers the cost of the enterprises. For example, it eliminates the extra spending and performs operations in a fraction of seconds that can otherwise take hours to complete. Additionally, it provides a virtualized testing environment for research, eventually eliminating the negative environmental impacts caused by real-time testing.