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Different Types of Computers You Ought to Know About

Different Types of Computers
Computers have revolutionized all types of industries. They have proved to be a boon to mankind. What are the different types of computers? To know about them, read on.
Manali Oak
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Black Computer With Flat Screen
A computer is one of the most brilliant inventions of mankind. Thanks to computer technology, we have been able to achieve storage and processing of huge amounts of data. We can rest our brains by employing computer memory capacities for information storage. Owing to computers, we have been able to achieve higher processing speeds, carry out critical transactions and that too with great precision and accuracy.
Computers of the earlier times were of the size of a large room and consumed huge amounts of electric power. However, with the advancing technology, computers have shrunk to the size of a small watch.
Depending on their processing powers, size and area of use, they have been classified into various types. Based on the operational principle, computers can be classified as analog and digital. Based on their processing powers, they can be categorized as mainframe and microcomputers. Based on the usage, they can be grouped under desktop computers, laptops, tablets, netbooks, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and even tiny wearable ones. Here's more on the different types of computers.
Basis of Classification
Below given are the main factors for classification of computers-
  • Operational Principle
  • Size and Processing Power
  • Use
Based On Operational Principle
Based on operational principle, computers are classified as:
  • Analog Computers
  • Digital Computers
  • Hybrid Computers
Analog Computers
Analog computers can perform several mathematical operations simultaneously. They use continuous variables for mathematical operations and utilize mechanical or electrical energy. Hence they are different from digital computers. These are almost extinct today.
Digital Computers
Digital Computer
They use digital circuits and are designed to operate on two states, namely bits 0 and 1. They are analogous to states ON and OFF. Data on these computers is represented as a series of 0s and 1s. Digital computers are suitable for complex computation and have higher processing speeds. They are programmable.
Digital computers are either general purpose computers or special purpose ones. General purpose computers, as their name suggests, are designed for specific types of data processing while general purpose computers are meant for general use.
Hybrid Computers
These computers are a combination of both digital and analog computers. In this type of computers, the digital segments perform process control by conversion of analog signals to digital ones.
Based On Size and Processing Power
Based on size and processing power, computers are classified as:
  • Mainframe Computers
  • Microcomputers
Mainframe Computers
Mainframe Computers
Large organizations use mainframes for highly critical applications such as bulk data processing and ERP. Most of the mainframe computers have capacities to host multiple operating systems and operate as a number of virtual machines. They can substitute for several small servers.
A computer with a microprocessor and its central processing unit is known as a microcomputer. They do not occupy space as much as mainframes do. When supplemented with a keyboard and a mouse, microcomputers can be called personal computers. A monitor, a keyboard and other similar input-output devices, computer memory in the form of RAM and a power supply unit come packaged in a microcomputer. These computers can fit on desks or tables and prove to be the best choice for single-user tasks.
Based on Usage
Based on usage, computers can be classified as:
  • Desktop Computers
  • Laptops
  • Netbooks
  • PDA
  • Minicomputers
  • Servers
  • Supercomputers
  • Wearable Computers
  • Tablets        
Desktop Computers
Desktop Computer
A desktop computer is intended to be used on a single location. The spare parts of a desktop computer are readily available at relatively lower costs. Power consumption is not as critical as that in laptops. Desktop computers are widely popular for daily use in the workplace and households.
Similar in operation to desktop computers, laptop computers are miniaturized and optimized for mobile use. Laptops run on a single battery or an external adapter that charges the computer batteries. They are enabled with an inbuilt keyboard, touch pad acting as a mouse and a liquid crystal display. Their portability and capacity to operate on battery power have proven to be of great help to mobile users.
Netbooks fall in the category of laptops, but are inexpensive and relatively smaller in size. They had a smaller feature set and lesser capacities in comparison to regular laptops, at the time they came into the market. But with passing time, netbooks too began featuring almost everything that notebooks had. By the end of 2008, netbooks had begun to overtake notebooks in terms of market share and sales.
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
It is a handheld computer and popularly known as a palmtop. It has a touch screen and a memory card for storage of data. PDAs can also be used as portable audio players, web browsers and smartphones. Most of them can access the Internet by means of Wi-Fi communication.
In terms of size and processing capacity, minicomputers lie in between mainframes and microcomputers. Minicomputers are also called mid-range systems or workstations. The term began to be popularly used in the 1960s to refer to relatively smaller third generation computers. They took up the space that would be needed for a refrigerator and used
transistors and core memory technologies. The 12-bit PDP-8 minicomputer of the Digital Equipment Corporation was the first successful minicomputer.
Wearable Computers
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A record-setting step in the evolution of computers was the creation of wearable computers. These computers can be worn on the body. Military and health professionals have incorporated wearable computers into their daily routine. When the users' hands and sensory organs are engaged in other activities, wearable computers are of great help in tracking human actions. Wearable computers do not have to be turned on and off and remain in operation without user intervention.
They are computers designed to provide services to client machines in a computer network. They have larger storage capacities and powerful processors. Running on them are programs that serve client requests and allocate resources like memory and time to client machines. Usually they are very large in size, as they have large processors and many hard drives. They are designed to be fail-safe and resistant to crash.
The highly calculation-intensive tasks can be effectively performed by means of supercomputers. Quantum physics, mechanics, weather forecasting, molecular theory are best studied by means of supercomputers. Their ability of parallel processing and their well-designed memory hierarchy give the supercomputers, large transaction processing powers.
Tablets are mobile computers that are very handy to use. They use the touch screen technology. Tablets come with an onscreen keyboard or use a stylus or a digital pen. Apple's iPad redefined the class of tablets.
These were most of the different types of computers used today. Looking at the rate of advancement in technology, we can definitely look forward to many more in the coming years.
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