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What defines a PC?


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I have stumbleupon with Comp Hardware and i continually see all these "worlds smallest PC" and they are like 5 inches big, but run a VERY slim linux. So I continually think, "what defines a PC"?

And things like:

I runs an OS, ANY OS but that means a router that runs a type of Linux OS is a computer, but its a hardware

or "But it has a GUI/Interface", but then a TiVo's a computer

So whats your opinions? Im kinda confused at this moment

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It's a difficult thing to define, because once you start defining it you can second-guess yourself, resulting in a very broad definition which encompasses everything from your pacemaker to your toothbrush.

Computer: Electronic shit with a processor.

In my opinion the term PC means something other than Personal Computer. That term came from the day where it was pro that you could fit a computer in your house. So a definition to suit the times:

PC: Keyboard and mouse for user input, unless special accessibility requirements are present. Must have a minimum available output resolution of 1280x1024. Consists of a processor, a motherboard, a graphics adapter, a data store, ram, audio output. Must run an operating system capable of networking, and interfacing with devices such as printer and usb storage.

That's just me eating my breakfast and making up a definition, so please refine it. I'm thinking along the lines of "If I bought a PC, what would I assume it did?"

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I think of PC, for what it stands for. Personal Computer.

A computer that is meant for the end user use of something, web browing, music listening, movie watching. Unlike a server, or my toothbrush.

I also go insane when people start talking about Mac VS. PC.

Because a Mac is a PC. And it drives me up a tree.(even though I like to hang out in my tree alot anyway) :P

I dont look at it by what type of hardware it is. But how it is used.

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I am of the opinion that the term "Personal Computer" is more of a social definition for a computer than having any technical merit. "Personal Computer" came about becasue computers where made by companies for other companies or organisations to use originally. Eventually computers became small enough and cheap enough for hobbyists to adopt. Hence the term "Personal Computer", before hobbyists took on computing all computers would have been the opposite of personal.

However, I suspect that a 'normal' person understands the term "PC" to represent a computer running Windows.

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Randy: you guys want anything?

Ricky - yeah some smokes and Jalepeno chips

Julian - yeah, ill have some Jalepno chips

Ricky - Jalepeno? what flavour is that?

Julain - the J is silent Rick, its pronounced Halepeno

Ricky: What?

Bubbles - Haaaalepeno Ricky

Ricky - i know, i ordered Jalepeno, i dont know what the **** you guys are talking about

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I have to agree with the term "Personal Computer" too.

More recently the line for PC has been even further blurred by Apple and Microsoft. Apples "Im a Mac, Im a PC" campaign and Microsofts "Im a PC" campaign.

I use a mac but still refer to it as my PC. I call my Linux box a PC. I call my Windows box a PC. I use it and want it to continue as a generic term for "a box that you compute with".

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A PC is a general purpose computer that is cheap enough for a person to own.

So thats why a mac is not a pc...not cheap enough to own. j/k

The term Computer itself has been used to describe lots of things today. Maybe it wasn't meant to be used in such general terms, but with all the devices that do the function of a computer, it covers a pretty broad range of devices.

A computer is defined as a "programmable usually electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data." If this is something you own personally and is in a small form factor, well, to me its a personal computer, regardless of how generic the devices is.

To me, a computer is any device that lets people interface with electronic equipment/hardware and software so that they may communicate and share information/data with other people and devices while doing mathmatical computations. If it fits in your home or you can carry it with you, then I call it a personal computer, pc just being a generic term. A laptop is a pc, a handheld like the palm or blackberry is a pc, just some devices may serve other functions or contain only specialized functions like an appliance such as a router or firewall, cell phone, etc. I don't care if its a phone or pda, its still a computer inside the device, just a specialized one.

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Here is my personal definition of a PC:

Personal Computer (noun); et al PC- A device that has 5 characteristics. An input device such as a mouse and keyboard, an output device such as a dedicated monitor that lets the user visually interface the device, a storage device to save processed data, memory used to temporarily store cached data to be processed, and a processor that collects and processes the data from input devices and storage to output onto the monitor and or storage device.

Maybe that will clear it up a bit :D

Actually the first PC had all of this except for a storage device: the Altair. It had switches for an input device, lights for an output device (and you could solder an oscillator to it to make it have a monitor), ram to store information to be processed, and of course a processor.

So my definition seems to be fit :D

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There are several forms of computer. It is arguable that a proper computer is a device that can be programmed to perform different task (that it doesn't only do a pre defined set of things) and that it has persistent data storage.

Other wise devices such as microwaves can be classed as computers even though all they can do is tell the time and count down in minuets and seconds.

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well, when you start mixing just the term 'computer' then that is different from a 'Personal Computer' in the traditional sense, since the term personal computer was actually just a fork of the term computer.

Webster's online dictionary gives this:

    com·put·er Pronunciation: \kəm-ˈpyü-tər\; Function: noun; Usage: often attributive; Date: 1646
one that computes; specifically : a programmable usually electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data

    personal computer; Function:  noun;Date: 1976;
: a general-purpose computer equipped with a microprocessor and designed to run especially commercial software (as a word processor or Internet browser) for an individual user

Crazy thing about it... The term was traced all the way back to 1646...

Makes me wonder.. Were people back then writing in feather pen, sending letters to each other talking about what computer really means? :P

Searching around I also found this: World's first computer replicated from 2000 years ago.

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This guy pretty much invented computers, although, not in the electronic sense that we have today. He didn't get credit for it while he was alive and a fully functional difference machine wasn't built until after his death.


Its also the name the character(the plague) in the movie "Hackers" uses at the end of the film when he gets arrested.

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lawl, never noticed that before! Yah, charles babbage was a hell of an awesome mathmetician. The difference engine should have been built, but it makes me wonder why he didnt. Did he doubt his calculations or was he running low on technolust? (or for him was it mathlust?)

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