- The desktop computer has evolved rapidly since the Altair 8800.business computer desktop office image by scalesy from Fotolia.com
The first commercially successful microcomputer--the Altair 8800--was released in 1975, ushering in a revolution in desktop computing. Since then, computers have become a household item. After surveying 113,000 households, the United States Census Bureau estimated in 2003 that more than 61 percent of homes in the United States were equipped with a computer. More recent numbers were not available.
One of several computer types, the desktop--a microcomputer--has evolved rapidly since its origin. Technical advances have made computer components compact, fast and powerful. As a result, the all-in-one, workstation and gaming systems were born.
All-in-One Personal Computer
- The all-in-one computer combines the "box" that holds the computer's components--motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), hard drive, ports and disk drive--with the computer's monitor. All-in-one PCs provide a portable desktop option due to their compact size. Customization and upgrades are difficult to perform because components are neatly packed behind the computer's screen.
Manufacturers are taking a different approach with newer models by allowing consumers to perform after-market upgrades and customizations. All-in-one computers typically come with a wireless keyboard and mouse and are popular due to their space-saving capacity.
- Originally designed for scientific and technical applications, the workstation is a high-end desktop computer. The computer's processing capacity, price, CPU and graphics capabilities set it apart.
Made of processor cores, CPUs perform a computer's processing tasks. The workstation uses multiple dual-core or quad-core CPUs as opposed to the use of single-core CPUs installed in the typical desktop. This increases performance substantially. In addition, workstations provide multiple connections for monitors and feature advanced graphics cards useful for computer-aided drafting and modeling. Apple Inc., Dell, and Sun Microsystems are a few manufacturers that produce workstations.
Types by Application
- Many personal computers are built for specified usage. For example, gaming PCs contain advanced graphics technology and increased video memory to execute a smooth gaming experience. Desktops configured for designers include advanced graphics cards to ensure clarity and honest color. Entry-level desktops contain basic components that provide a platform for simple processes such as surfing the Internet and word-processing tasks. Children's desktops are configured to accommodate small fingers, germs and rugged treatment.