The History and Mechanics of PC Computers
A PC computer is a computer that is built around a microprocessor and includes an operating system, software, and both built-in and external peripherals or input/output devices. A PC may refer to a desktop computer or laptop, tablet, or handheld PC. The term 'PC', an acronym for Personal Computer, was coined by IBM in the 1980s. IBM's first personal computer was named the 'IBM-PC'. Since that time, the term PC Computer has evolved to apply to a computer which is based on an Intel or Intel-compatible microprocessor. This distinction of a PC computer goes back nearly 30 years, to the mid-1980s, when the two main desktop computer competitors were IBM and Apple. Thus, the PC computer is direct contrast to an Apple or Macintosh (Mac) computer, which is not Intel-compatible. In actuality, a Mac uses a Motorola microprocessor.
In the late 80s, 90s, and early into the 21st century, there was a stark contrast between the PC and the Mac. The PC computer was generally for business use, while the Mac was for graphic design and publishing. More than 80% of home computer owners had a PC, and more than 90% of the software available was only PC-compatible. Nearly every PC computer came pre-loaded with a Windows operating system and Macs with Mac OS. However, in the past decade, the lines between the historic distinction between the PC computer and the Mac have blurred, as Mac is now Windows-compatible.
Early PCs came equipped with a microprocessor, random access memory (RAM), a hard drive (HD), and a disk drive. Later on, they came with more peripherals including CD/DVD-ROMs and burners, keyboard and mouse inputs, USB inputs, and speaker inputs/outputs amongst others. The earliest PC computers lacked an operating system, and users had to write their own programs (usually in DOS). Today's users have an almost endless range of software available to run on a variety of operating systems that are compatible with PCs.
The price of desktop PCs has gradually declined over the years. When the PC was introduced in 1981, the average price was $1,800. Into the mid-90s, a complete setup including mouse, keyboard, and monitor, rose to about $2500 on average. With the decline in price of laptops and the advent of low-cost netbooks, the average price of a desktop PC fell to approximately $700 by 2010. It continues to decline in order to compete with other, more portable types of PC computers. Some of the best brands continue to lower their prices to remain competitive. These large PC brand manufacturers include Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus, Acer, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Alienware, and Samsung.