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Encyclopedia > Microcomputer
The Commodore 64 was one of the most popular microcomputers of its era, and is the best selling model of home computer of all time.
The Commodore 64 was one of the most popular microcomputers of its era, and is the best selling model of home computer of all time.[1]

Although there is no single definition, a microcomputer (in the 1970s and 80s sometimes shortened to micro[2]) is most often taken to mean a computer with a microprocessor as its CPU. Another general characteristic of these computers is that they occupy physically small amounts of space. Although the terms are not synonymous, many microcomputers are also personal computers (in the generic sense).[3][4] Download high resolution version (2048x1150, 588 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (2048x1150, 588 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... C-64 redirects here. ... Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s. ... This article is about the machine. ... A microprocessor is a programmable digital electronic component that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) on a single semiconducting integrated circuit (IC). ... “CPU” redirects here. ...

Contents


The term "microcomputer" came into popular use after the introduction of the minicomputer, although Isaac Asimov used the term microcomputer in his short story "The Dying Night" as early as 1956 (published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in July that year). Most notably, the microcomputer replaced the many separate components that made up the minicomputer's CPU with a single integrated microprocessor chip. Minicomputer (colloquially, mini) is a largely obsolete term for a class of multi-user computers which make up the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems (traditionally, mainframe computers) and the smallest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers). ... Isaac Asimov (January 2?, 1920?[1] – April 6, 1992), IPA: , originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as Айзек Азимов) was a Russian-born American Jewish author and professor of biochemistry, a highly successful and exceptionally prolific writer best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. ... F&SF April 1971, special Poul Anderson issue. ... Integrated circuit of Atmel Diopsis 740 System on Chip showing memory blocks, logic and input/output pads around the periphery Microchips with a transparent window, showing the integrated circuit inside. ...


The earliest models often sold as kits to be assembled by the user, and came with as little as 256 bytes of RAM, and no input/output devices other than indicator lights and switches. However, as microprocessor design advanced rapidly and semiconductor memory became less expensive from the early-to-mid-1970s onwards, microcomputers in turn grew faster and cheaper. This resulted in an explosion in their popularity during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In computer science a byte (pronounced bite) is a unit of measurement of information storage, most often consisting of eight bits. ... “RAM” redirects here. ... Energy Input: The energy placed into a reaction. ... Semiconductor memory is a generic term referring to any computer storage method implemented on a semiconductor-based integrated circuit. ...


The increasing availability and power of desktop computers for personal use attracted the attention of more software developers. As time went on and the industry matured, the market for personal (micro)computers standardized around IBM PC compatibles running MS-DOS (and later Windows). Desktop computer with several common peripherals (Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, microphone and a printer) A desktop computer is a computer made for use on a desk in an office or home and is distinguished from portable computers such as laptops or PDAs. ... A personal computer (PC) is a computer whose price, size, and capabilities make it useful for individuals. ... The Columbia MPC was one of the many IBM PC compatibles offered on the US market. ... Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ... “Windows” redirects here. ...


Modern desktop computers, video game consoles, laptop computers, tablet PCs, and many types of handheld devices, including mobile phones and pocket calculators, as well as industrial embedded systems, may all be considered examples of microcomputers according to the definition given above. “Game console” redirects here. ... Laptop with touchpad. ... A Tablet PC is a notebook- or slate-shaped mobile computer. ... This article or section reads like an advertisement. ... For other uses, see Calculator (disambiguation). ... A router, an example of an embedded system. ...


Colloquial use of the term

Everyday use of the expression "microcomputer" (and in particular the "micro" abbreviation) has declined significantly from the mid-1980s onwards, and is no longer commonplace. It is most commonly associated with the first wave of all-in-one 8-bit home computers and small business microcomputers (such as the Apple II, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, and TRS 80). Although—or perhaps because—an increasingly diverse range of modern microprocessor-based devices fit the definition of "microcomputer," they are no longer referred to as such in everyday speech. The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ... 8-bit refers to the number of bits used in the data bus of a computer. ... Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s. ... The 1977 Apple II, complete with integrated keyboard, color graphics, sound, a plastic case and eight expansion slots. ... C-64 redirects here. ... The BBC Microcomputer System was a series of microcomputers and associated peripherals designed and built by Acorn Computers Ltd for the BBC Computer Literacy Project operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


In common usage, "microcomputer" has been largely supplanted by the description "personal computer" or "PC," which describes that it has been designed to be used by one person at a time. IBM first promoted the term "personal computer" to differentiate themselves from other microcomputers, often called "home computers." and also IBM's own mainframes and minicomputers. Unfortunately for IBM, the microcomputer itself was widely imitated, as well as the term. The component parts were commonly available to manufacturers and the BIOS was reverse engineered through cleanroom design techniques. IBM PC compatible "clones" became commonplace, and the terms "Personal Computer," and especially "PC" stuck with the general public. Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s. ... For other uses, see Bios. ... Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of taking something (a device, an electrical component, a software program, etc. ... For the manufacturing process setting, used for example in integrated circuit manufacture, see Clean room. ... The Columbia MPC was one of the many IBM PC compatibles offered on the US market. ...


Description

Monitors, keyboards and other devices for input and output may be integrated or separate. Computer memory in the form of RAM, and at least one other less volatile, memory storage device are usually combined with the CPU on a system bus in a single unit. Other devices that make up a complete microcomputer system include, batteries, a power supply unit, a keyboard and various input/output devices used to convey information to and from a human operator (printers, monitors, human interface devices) Microcomputers are designed to serve only a single user at a time, although they can often be modified with software or hardware to concurrently serve more than one user. Microcomputers fit well on or under desks or tables, so that they are within easy access of the user. Bigger computers like minicomputers, mainframes, and supercomputers take up large cabinets or even a dedicated room. Look up RAM, Ram, ram in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Front Side Bus (FSB) is the term used to describe the CPU data bus. ... A wall wart style variable DC power supply with its cover removed. ... A computer printer, or more commonly a printer, produces a hard copy (permanent human-readable text and/or graphics) of documents stored in electronic form, usually on physical print media such as paper transparencies]]. Many printers are primarily used as computer peripherals, and are attached by a printer cable to... A computer display monitor, usually called simply a monitor, is a piece of electrical equipment which displays viewable images generated by a computer without producing a permanent record. ... A human interface device or HID is a type of computer device that interacts directly with and takes input from humans, such as the computer keyboard, computer mouse, joystick, graphics tablet, and the like. ... Minicomputer (colloquially, mini) is a largely obsolete term for a class of multi-user computers which make up the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems (traditionally, mainframe computers) and the smallest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers). ... For other uses, see Mainframe. ... A supercomputer is a computer that led the world (or was close to doing so) in terms of processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation, at the time of its introduction. ... Wikipedia servers installed in a server cabinet. ...


A microcomputer comes equipped with at least one type of data storage, usually RAM. Although some microcomputers (particularly early 8-bit home micros) perform tasks using RAM alone, some form of secondary storage is normally desirable. In the early days of home micros, this was often a data cassette deck (in many cases as an external unit). Later, secondary storage (particularly in the form of floppy and hard disk drives) were built in to the microcomputer case itself. Different types of RAM. From top to bottom: DIP, SIPP, SIMM 30 pin, SIMM 72 pin, DIMM, RIMM RAM redirects here. ... In computer storage, secondary storage, or external memory, is computer memory that is not directly accessible to the central processing unit of a computer, requiring the use of computers input/output channels. ... A typical front loading consumer autoreverse hi-fi cassette deck from lte 1980s (SONY TC-RX55), features full electronic transport, Dolby B, C noise reduction and HXPro dynamic headroom expansion A cassette deck is a type of tape recorder for playing or recording audio compact cassettes. ... A floppy disk is a data storage device that is composed of a disk of thin, flexible (floppy) magnetic storage medium encased in a square or rectangular plastic shell. ... Typical hard drives of the mid-1990s. ...


History

Although they contained no microprocessors but were built around TTL logic, Hewlett Packard Calculators as far back as 1968 had various levels of programmability such that they could be called microcomputers. The HP 9100B (1968) had rudimentary conditional (IF) statements, statement line numbers, and subroutines. Later models incrementally added more features, including the BASIC programming language (HP 9830A in 1971). Some models had tape storage and small printers. However, displays were limited to a single line at a time. [1] The HP 9100A was referred to as a personal computer in an advertisement in a 1968 Science magazine[5] but that advertisement was quickly dropped.[6] It is suspected[attribution needed] that HP was reluctant to call them "computers" because it would complicate government procurement and export procedures.[citation needed] It has been suggested that HP ProLiant be merged into this article or section. ... This article is about the programming language. ... The Hewlett-Packard 9100A was the worlds first personal computer, first appearing in 1968. ... Science is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). ...


The Datapoint 2200, made by CTC in 1970, is perhaps the best candidate for the title of "first microcomputer". While it contains no microprocessor, it used the 4004 programming instruction set and its custom TTL logic was the basis for the Intel 8008, and for practical purposes the system behaves approximately as if it contains an 8008. This is because Intel was the contractor in charge of developing the Datapoint's CPU but ultimately CTC rejected the 8008 design because it needed 20 support chips. [7] The Datapoint 2200 was a programmable terminal released by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) in June 1970. ... Datapoint Corporation, originally known as Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC), was a computer company based in San Antonio, Texas. ... The Intel 4004, a 4-bit central processing unit (CPU) released by Intel Corp. ... It has been suggested that some sections of this article be split into a new article entitled instruction set architecture. ... Intel 8008 The Intel 8008 was an early microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel and introduced in April, 1972. ...


Another early system, the Kenbak-1, was released in 1971. Like the Datapoint 2200, it used discrete TTL logic instead of a microprocessor, but functioned like a microcomputer in most ways. It was marketed as an educational and hobbyist tool, but was not a commercial success; production ceased shortly after introduction.[2]. Another system of note is the Micral-N, introduced in 1973 by a French company and powered by the 8008; it was the first microcomputer sold all assembled and not as a construction kit. The Kenbak-1 is considered by the Computer History Museum to be the worlds first ever personal computer (however, the Datapoint 2200 may have been invented first, sold first, or both; the exact dates have not been established). ... TTL is an elite band of men and boys that originate, live or are involved in the tadley bmx scene. ... MICRAL The Micral was the earliest commercial, non-kit personal computer based on a micro-processor, the Intel 8008. ...


Virtually all early microcomputers were essentially boxes with lights and switches; one had to read and understand binary numbers and machine language to program and use them (the Datapoint 2200 was a striking exception, bearing a modern design based around a monitor, keyboard, and tape and disk drives). Of the early "box of switches"-type microcomputers, the MITS Altair 8800 (1975) was arguably the most famous. Most of these simple, early microcomputers were sold as electronic kits--bags full of loose components which the buyer had to solder together before the system could be used. Altair 8800 Computer with 8 inch floppy disk system The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975, based on the Intel 8080 CPU. Sold as a kit through Popular Electronics magazine, the designers intended to sell only a few hundred to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold... A kit of Electrical_components used to build a working prototype - normally found in hobbies shops. ...


The period from about 1971 to 1976 is sometimes called the first generation of microcomputers. These machines were for engineering development and hobbyist personal use. In 1975, the Processor Technology SOL-20 was designed, which consisted of a single board which included all the parts of the computer system. The SOL-20 had built-in EPROM software which elimated the need for rows of switches and lights. The MITS Altair just mentioned played an instrumental role in sparking significant hobbyist interest, which itself eventually led to the founding and success of many well-known personal computer hardware and software companies, such as Microsoft and Apple Computer. Although the Altair itself was only a mild commercial success, it helped spark a huge industry. Processor Technology Corporation was a microcomputer company founded in the mid-1970s. ... Introduced in June 1976 at the PC76 computer conference, the SOL-20 was designed by Lee Felsenstein, who also was one of the founders of the Community Memory Project, moderated the meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club from 1975 until 1986, and designed the Osborne 1. ... Introduced in June 1976 at the PC76 computer conference, the SOL-20 was designed by Lee Felsenstein, who also was one of the founders of the Community Memory Project, moderated the meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club from 1975 until 1986, and designed the Osborne 1. ... Altair 8800 Computer with 8 inch floppy disk system The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975, based on the Intel 8080 CPU. Sold as a kit through Popular Electronics magazine, the designers intended to sell only a few hundred to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold... Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... Apple Inc. ...

Modern microcomputers can be very compact
Modern microcomputers can be very compact

1977 saw the introduction of the second generation, known as home computers. These were considerably easier to use than their predecessors, whose operation often demanded thorough familiarity with practical electronics. The ability to connect to a monitor (screen) or TV set allowed for visual manipulation of text and numbers. The BASIC programming language, which was easier to learn and use than raw machine language, became a standard feature. These features were already common in minicomputers, which many hobbyists and early manufactures were familiar with. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (800x699, 48 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (800x699, 48 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s. ... BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of high-level programming languages. ... Minicomputer (colloquially, mini) is a largely obsolete term for a class of multi-user computers which make up the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems (traditionally, mainframe computers) and the smallest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers). ...


1979 saw the launch of the VisiCalc spreadsheet (initially for the Apple II) that first turned the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a business tool. After the 1981 release by IBM of their IBM PC, the term Personal Computer became generally used for microcomputers compatible with the IBM PC architecture (PC compatible). VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. ... A spreadsheet is a rectangular table (or grid) of information, often financial information. ... The 1977 Apple II, complete with integrated keyboard, color graphics, sound, a plastic case and eight expansion slots. ... IBM PC (IBM 5150) with keyboard and green screen monochrome monitor (IBM 5151), running MS-DOS 5. ... One of the first PCs from IBM - the IBM PC model 5150. ...


References and footnotes

  1. ^ Kahney, Leander. Grandiose Price for a Modest PC. Wired. Lycos. Retrieved on 2006-10-25.
  2. ^ Proof of "micro" as a once-common term:
    (i) Direct reference: Jack Kibble-White, Jack "Stand by for a Data-Blast", Off the Telly. Article written December 2005, retrieved 2006-12-15.
    (ii) Usage in the titles of Christopher Evans' books "The Mighty Micro" (ISBN 0-340-25975-2) and "The Making of the Micro" (ISBN 0-575-02913-7). Other books include Usborne's "Understanding the Micro" (ISBN 0-86020-637-8), a children's guide to microcomputers.
  3. ^ As neither term is precisely-defined, the degree of overlap is debatable. An early use of the term "personal computer" in 1962 predates microprocessor-based designs. (See "Personal Computer: Computers at Home" reference below). Similarly, "microcomputer" may technically encompass applications beyond "personal computers". Additional complications include whether "personal computer" is being used generically or to denote an IBM PC compatible machine.
  4. ^ "Personal Computer: Computers at Home", Wikipedia article section. Version used dated 2006-11-04, retrieved 2006-11-07.
  5. ^ http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/personalsystems/0021/other/0021ad.pdf
  6. ^ http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/issue_pdf/frontmatter_pdf/162/3852.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/MicroprocessorHistory.htm

Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 298th day of the year (299th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 349th day of the year (350th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Dr Christopher Riche Evans (1931 – October 10, 1979) was a British psychologist and computer scientist. ... The Columbia MPC was one of the many IBM PC compatibles offered on the US market. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 308th day of the year (309th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 311th day of the year (312th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Microcomputer - MSN Encarta (775 words)
Microcomputer, desktop- or notebook-size computing device that uses a microprocessor as its central processing unit, or CPU (see Computer).
More recently the distinction between microcomputers and large, mainframe computers (as well as the smaller mainframe-type systems called minicomputers) has become blurred, as newer microcomputer models have increased the speed and data-handling capabilities of their CPUs into the 32-bit, multiuser range.
Microcomputers were made possible by two technical innovations in the field of microelectronics: the integrated circuit, or IC, which was developed in 1959; and the microprocessor, which first appeared in 1971.
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Therefore it regulates the physiological activity of the meridian channels and collateral, by balancing the "Yin and Yang", adjusting the "Qi and blood" and preventing pathological changes.
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