(although several trips would be required to carry all the pieces elsewhere), and single-
user oriented. "Small" does not necessarily mean less capability, though. Today's
microcomputer, at a cost of 0 to ,000, has more computing capacity than the first
large electronic computer, ENIAC. Compared to ENIAC, it is 20 times as fast,
thousands of times more reliable, consumes the power of a light bulb rather than that of
a locomotive, occupies 1/300,000 the volume, costs 1/10,000 as much, and has a larger
microcomputer: also know as personal computer, PC or desk top computer; a
very small computer used largely in personal/small business configurations; often
a special purpose, single-function computer on a chip.
(2) Like any digital computer, a microcomputer can perform arithmetical and
logical operations and communicate the results to other devices, such as a TV screen,
teletypewriter, or audio device. Connected to memory and input-output devices such as
printers, cathode-ray tube (CRT) display devices, floppy disk memory units, magnetic
tape cassette recorders and teletypewriters, the microcomputer is capable of performing
complex tasks such as playing games (tic-tac-toe, space war, and so forth), computing
schedules, creating music, editing text, solving engineering problems reading X-rays,
controlling machinery, and even drawing pictures of Snoopy. Preprogrammed
microcomputer software packages are available so that the typical user, a person who
knows little about the inner workings of computers (owners of small businesses,
teachers, children, personal computer users) can immediately start using it for school,
work, home, and play.
(1) Hobbyists. Microcomputers were originally designed for hobby oriented
specialists (engineers, programmer electronics buffs), who built their computers from
scratch or purchased ready-to-assemble kits. The personal computer market started in
1975 with computer kits starting at 0. A computer for the home can now be
purchased for between 0 and ,000.
mouse: hand-held device used to alter the position of a cursor on the screen.
(See figure 3-14.)
joystick: used principally for games: alternative means
of communications with
screen's electronics. (See figure 3-14.)
(2) Home and small business. When first introduced, personal computers
were generally envisioned for the home and small business as standalone systems.
About one-third of all desk top computers are located in private offices, where business
persons use them to do word processing, accounting, inventory control, order
processing, customer lists, client records, tax records, mailing labels, evaluation of bids
and contracts, and student and patient records, to name a few uses. Hookups between
offices and homes have led to telecommuting, which allow employees to work at home.