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computer
Last modified: Friday, January 04, 2002 

computer
A programmable machine. The two principal characteristics of a computer are:
  • It responds to a specific set of instructions in a well-defined manner.
  • Modern computers are electronic and digital. The actual machinery -- wires, transistors, and circuits -- is called hardware; the instructions and data are called software.

    All general-purpose computers require the following hardware components:

  • memory : Enables a computer to store, at least temporarily, data and programs.
  • mass storage device : Allows a computer to permanently retain large amounts of data. Common mass storage devices include disk drives and tape drives.
  • input device : Usually a keyboard and mouse, the input device is the conduit through which data and instructions enter a computer.
  • output device : A display screen, printer, or other device that lets you see what the computer has accomplished.
  • central processing unit (CPU): The heart of the computer, this is the component that actually executes instructions.
  • In addition to these components, many others make it possible for the basic components to work together efficiently. For example, every computer requires a bus that transmits data from one part of the computer to another.

    Computers can be generally classified by size and power as follows, though there is considerable overlap:

  • personal computer : A small, single-user computer based on a microprocessor. In addition to the microprocessor, a personal computer has a keyboard for entering data, a monitor for displaying information, and a storage device for saving data.
  • workstation : A powerful, single-user computer. A workstation is like a personal computer, but it has a more powerful microprocessor and a higher-quality monitor.
  • minicomputer : A multi-user computer capable of supporting from 10 to hundreds of users simultaneously.
  • mainframe : A powerful multi-user computer capable of supporting many hundreds or thousands of users simultaneously.
  • supercomputer : An extremely fast computer that can perform hundreds of millions of instructions per second.
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    For internet.com pages about computer . Also check out the following links!

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    What hard-core techies and companies like Dell and Compaq have been doing for years is what any computer user can learn how to do - build a computer from scratch. Let SE take you on a stroll through the park and ease the pain of building a DIY PC.

    IEEE's Computer magazine
    Monthly magazine received by all members of the IEEE Computer Society. Offers articles of interest to computing professionals, computer scientists and engineers.

    Price Watch - street price search engine
    Offers a way to find prices on computer products (systems, CPU, memory, storage, networking, multimedia, etc.) from many manufacturers. Prices are entered by the manufacturer using a proprietary Price Watch Info-Link system. Users then see a date and time posting with each product chosen.

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    HP Home & Home Office Store: Desktops - Shop for HP Pavilion and Compaq desktop PCs at the official Hewlett Packard store. Find the complete selection of HP home and home office products.

    Logic Supply: Computers - Mini-ITX computer systems and components designed for embedded applications and applied computing.

    Computers: General Digital Corporation - Single Board Computer with 10.4" to 15.1" flat panel LCD screen. Many configurations available or will build to suit. Rugged, all-metal construction.

    GlobalSpec.com: Industrial Computers - Provides database of suppliers for industrial computers. Includes catalogs, technical information, and supplier contact information.

    related categories

    Types of Computers

    related terms

    CPU

    hardware

    mainframe

    microprocessor

    minicomputer

    personal computer

    software

    supercomputer

    workstation


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