Types of Computer

There are many different types of computer - used for many different jobs. Here are some of the popular types of computer that you can find in use today.

1 Pocket (palmtop) Computer

The Palm m125
Pocket computers have been designed to allow people to keep lots of information close to hand - wherever they happen to be. A pocket computer has to have small, light batteries that last a long time so that the whole computer is light and small enough to be carried around in someone's pocket.
These computers have special operating systems suited to pocket computers.
One problem with small computers is that they don't have full-sized keyboards attached. Both of the computers in these pictures use special pens and touch-sensitive screens to enter data as well as a number of small buttons or keys.
The Psion Series 5

2 Laptop Computer

The person using a laptop should be able to run all the same software on the laptop as runs on larger, desktop computers as laptop computers have the same types of operating system as desktop ones. Modern laptops can have floppy drives, CD-ROM drives and CD re-writers, and even DVD drives. They often have a full-sized, or near-fullsize, keyboards and a mouse or a touch-sensitive mouse pad. The screen is usually a large Liquid Crystal Display (LCD).

Laptops are usually much more expensive than desktop computers. They have expensive battery packs that have to power the hard-disk, CD drives and LCD screen. The batteries generally don't last as long as those in a pocket computer and may need recharging more than once a day.

The main advantage of a laptop is that the person using it can have all the programs and data from their desktop computer on a portable computer.

Toshiba T1900s Laptop

3 Micro (desktop) Computer

At the moment there are two main types of desktop computer available: the Mac (made by Apple Computers) and the PC. Mac is short for Macintosh - it is usually distinguished by its stylish looks and bright colours. The latest operating system for the Apple Mac (in 2002) is OS X.
When people talk about PCs they usually mean an 'IBM-compatible' computer based on an Intel (or similar) microprocessor. The most common operating system for the PC is Microsoft Windows (latest version Windows XP) although other operating systems are available (eg Linux).

These are very popular computers. They are designed to be used on a desk or table with a separate keyboard and mouse for input.

4 Mainframe/Supercomputer

These computers are used for performing many millions of complex calculations in a short time. They are very large and expensive.
They are used to predict the weather, handle bank accounts, hold insurance details.

In between the mainframe and the microcomputer is the minicomputer.

Answer these questions:

  1. What operating system does the Mac use ?
  2. What make of microprocessor do IBM PCs use ?
  3. What sort of computers do Palm make?
  4. What sort of computers do Cray make?
  5. What sort of computer would you use to model the weather ?
  6. What sort of screen does a laptop have ?
  7. Which computer is most likely to have a touch-sensitive screen ?
  8. Which computer does not use batteries as its main power source ?
  9. Which computers are the most expensive ?
  10. Which computers are the cheapest ?

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