Figure 3-11. A mainframe computer can handle thousands of simultaneous users
over a broad geographic area. One use of the mainframe in the
military is for finance and personnel functions.
a. Description. A minicomputer is composed of the same subsystems as a
mainframe, and supports a full line of peripherals, but it has a smaller memory. The
term minicomputer is falling into disuse, though, as the difference between mainframes
and minicomputers begins to blur. Today's minicomputers are actually more powerful
0,000. Though the industry has been growing at a rate of 35 to 40 percent, the
market is declining and may stabilize in the near future.
minicomputer: a small computer somewhere in size between a large-scale
mainframe computer and a microcomputer; with the components of a full-sized
system but a smaller memory. (The term is falling into disuse as the distinction
between large and "supermini" computers blurs.)
b. Individual or Limited User Applications. Minicomputers have become
popular because of their versatility. They can be plugged into standard electrical
outlets, often do not require special facilities such as air conditioning and water cooling,
and can be used in many configurations. A minicomputer system is well-suited to the
needs of a small, growing business with one or several users to start with, and a system
consisting of a visual display terminal, a disk storage unit, and a printer (see figure
below). As the business expanded it might add more workstations, each with a terminal
and CRT, possibly each with its own output peripherals (printers).