personal computer (PC)
Microcomputer designed for use by one person at a time. A typical PC assemblage comprises a CPU; internal memory consisting of RAM and ROM; data storage devices (including a hard disc, a floppy disc, or CD-ROM); and input/output devices (including a display screen, keyboard, mouse, and printer). The PC industry began in 1977 when Apple Computer, Inc. (now Apple Inc.), introduced the Apple II. Radio Shack and Commodore Business Machines also introduced PCs that year. IBM entered the PC market in 1981. The IBM PC, with increased memory capacity and backed by IBM's large sales organization, quickly became the industry standard. Apple's Macintosh (1984) was particularly useful for desktop publishing. Microsoft Corp. introduced MS Windows (1985), a graphical user interface that gave PCs many of the capabilities of the Macintosh, initially as an overlay of MS-DOS. Windows went on to replace MS-DOS as the dominant operating system for personal computers. Uses of PCs multiplied as the machines became more powerful and application software proliferated. Today, PCs are used for word processing, Internet access, and many other daily tasks.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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