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Computer intended for use by one person, but with a much faster processor and more memory than an ordinary personal computer. Workstations are designed for powerful business applications that do large numbers of calculations or require high-speed graphical displays; the requirements of CAD/CAM systems were one reason for their initial development. Because of their need for computing power, they are often based on RISC processors and generally use UNIX as their operating system. An early workstation was introduced in 1987 by Sun Microsystems; workstations introduced in 1988 from Apollo, Ardent, and Stellar were aimed at 3D graphics applications. The term workstation is also sometimes used to mean a personal computer connected to a mainframe computer, to distinguish it from dumb display terminals with limited applications.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on workstation, visit Britannica.com.