A microcomputer is a complete computer on a smaller scale and is generally a synonym for the more common term, personal computer or PC , a computer designed for an individual. A microcomputer contains a microprocessor (a central processing unit on a microchip ), memory in the form of read-only memory and random access memory , I/O ports and a bus or system of interconnecting wires, housed in a unit that is usually called a motherboard .
In an ascending hierarchy of general computer sizes, we find:
* An embedded systems programming computer, which is embedded in something and doesn’t support direct human interaction but nevertheless meets all the other criteria of a microcomputer
* workstation , as used to mean a more powerful personal computer for special applications
* minicomputer , now restyled a “mid-range server”
* mainframe or mainframe computer, which is now usually referred to by its manufacturers as a “large server”
* Supercomputer, formerly almost a synonym for “Cray supercomputer” but now meaning a very large server and sometimes including a system of computers using parallel processing
* A parallel processing system is a system of interconnected computers that work on the same application together, sharing tasks that can be performed concurrently
Microcomputers are miniature electronic device that contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circuitry needed to function as a digital computer’s CPU. Microprocessors are integrated circuits that can interpret and execute program instructions as well as handle arithmetic operations. Their development in the late 1970s enabled computer engineers to develop microcomputers. Microprocessors led to “intelligent” terminals, such as bank ATMs and point-of-sale devices, and to automatic control of much industrial instrumentation and hospital equipment, programmable microwave ovens, and electronic games. Many automobiles use microprocessor-controlled ignition and fuel systems.