What is a "Personal Computer"?


elinscheid

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Just curious about what you all think.


There was a time when a computer was a large machine that took up a whole room. Eventually they were small enough to fit on a desk. In the late 70s/ early 80s we had the first real "Personal Computers". Apple II, Commodore 64, Trash 80s and so forth. People could have their very own computers for home use. Video games, spread sheets, word processing...all kinds of stuff.


Anyway, a friend of mine was telling me how she purchased an Apple computer. So I asked her if she decided on a Macbook or a desktop model. She looked at me funny and said she had no idea what I was talking about. Turns out she had purchased an Ipad. So we have many people now days who think that a smart phone or a tablet is, in fact, their personal computer.


What qualifies as a personal computer now days? The truth is, the computer I use the most is my Android based Xperia Play. It is always on, it easily fits in my pocket and and it is the first computer I go to for...well...pretty much anything. Phone, music, movies, games, internet, Office work, note taking, social media...the list goes on.


So what do you think? Desktops are pretty much dead. Laptop sales are going down the toilet. My cell phone is with me all the time. If I'm not using it then it is in my pocket. No one every really uses my cell phone except me. So of all my computers, my Android phone is truly my "Personal Computer".
 

diligentcircle

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I don't think desktops are dead. They will always have 3 major advantages:

  1. More power than more portable computers
  2. Keyboards you can touch-type with
  3. Can be easily upgraded or configured


Laptops might diminish in use, since their only advantage over desktops is portability and other devices do that better nowadays. But there's an advantage of the laptop: it can be moved around the house more easily, and it has a full-size keyboard. So laptops could still be more useful than desktop computers for some people at home (particularly if you don't have a desk or something to set up a desktop computer at), and I suspect they are also useful for travelers. Personally, I could never possibly live with a tiny keyboard or no keyboard at all in the long-term.
 

ikreos

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4. People like me who refuse to use a non-local system.


Besides, the cloud is just a repeat of history with a modern touch and most people know what happened the first time.


I usually stick to the definition of Personal Computer.
 
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Mr Rob

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Part of the problem, too, is marketing. I've had people adamantly argue that their iMac is not a PC. Because it's a Mac, and PC's are Windows. That's right, all personal computers are Windows somehow. And that marketing scheme has lead to the deterioration of the term 'PC' in today's world, which is a shame. Much like all 'hackers' are evil people who break into systems. Deterioration of terminology. But I digress.


I would consider all laptops, desktops (very much not dead, desktop workstations are still very handy and useful) and even netbooks to be 'Personal Computers'. I'd then consider smartphones and tablets to be 'mobile computers' though that definition is a bit fuzzy, too.

Besides, the cloud is just a repeat of history with a modern touch and most people know what happened the first time.

Yes, I love people's fascination with 'the cloud' as being something new and amazing. 70's and 80's technology (storing files and resources remotely; the legends speak of mainframes) rebranded as the hot new thing in computing. Back in the 90's, you had your web site hosted by an ISP, now you have your web site hosted by an ISP in the cloud. Makes it sound modern.


I'm done ranting, don't worry.
 

diligentcircle

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Besides, the cloud is just a repeat of history with a modern touch and most people know what happened the first time.

I'm not familiar with this history. What did happen "the first time", or better yet, what should I look up to learn about this?

Part of the problem, too, is marketing. I've had people adamantly argue that their iMac is not a PC. Because it's a Mac, and PC's are Windows. That's right, all personal computers are Windows somehow. And that marketing scheme has lead to the deterioration of the term 'PC' in today's world, which is a shame. Much like all 'hackers' are evil people who break into systems. Deterioration of terminology. But I digress.

I HATE that! "PC" clearly stands for "personal computer", so saying a "mac" is not a "PC" is absolutely ridiculous if you know what you're talking about. It's probably not a business computer, after all. Yet it's very common terminology. Not to mention, this ignores Linux completely.
 

Prometheus

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Besides, the cloud is just a repeat of history with a modern touch and most people know what happened the first time.

I'm not familiar with this history. What did happen "the first time", or better yet, what should I look up to learn about this?
If you want a summary without even having to do that: There's a reason that computers evolved to have their storage on-board! :lol:

I HATE that! "PC" clearly stands for "personal computer", so saying a "mac" is not a "PC" is absolutely ridiculous if you know what you're talking about. It's probably not a business computer, after all. Yet it's very common terminology. Not to mention, this ignores Linux completely.
Ah man, we're on the same page with this one. :p


Anyway, myself, I just go with the definition, "Personal Computer". It's a computer that's my personal machine on which I get work and leisure-time stuff done. My Pandora is one, my main box is one, my Macintosh is one. I struggle to see telephones as computers, personally.
 
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Caine

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I HATE that! "PC" clearly stands for "personal computer", so saying a "mac" is not a "PC" is absolutely ridiculous if you know what you're talking about. It's probably not a business computer, after all. Yet it's very common terminology. Not to mention, this ignores Linux completely.
I agree. It's absurd. Ignoring Linux however, seems to be a pattern.
 

Mr Rob

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I'm not familiar with this history. What did happen "the first time", or better yet, what should I look up to learn about this?

Well I'm not an expert, but back in the old days, everything was done on a mainframe. Files were stored there, computations occurred there, and the like. As technology advanced, PC's came out as the 'you can do everything on a mainframe, at home!' idea, so we basically moved away from centralized computing to having workstations for individual people. And now with more advances, we're slowly moving back.


It's certainly not a bad thing, there are other advances that help make this possible. My only objection is that people envision 'the cloud' as some new brilliant innovation in computing, where there are many parallels to technology of the 70's.

Not to mention, this ignores Linux completely.
I agree. It's absurd. Ignoring Linux however, seems to be a pattern.

And just to play devil's advocate, while everyone says 'well what about Linux! Linux is a fully fledged operating system, too, and should be counted. It's unfair that Linux is never mentioned', we ourselves forget to mention BSD. :eek: Now imagine how that community feels, ha ha.
 

Caine

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And just to play devil's advocate, while everyone says 'well what about Linux! Linux is a fully fledged operating system, too, and should be counted. It's unfair that Linux is never mentioned', we ourselves forget to mention BSD. :eek: Now imagine how that community feels, ha ha.
Oh wow, the ReactOS community must be suicidal from frustration. :D


Perhaps secure boot will bring an end to all this custom-OS madness :p
 
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ikreos

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I'm not familiar with this history. What did happen "the first time", or better yet, what should I look up to learn about this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-sharing


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multics


It has advanced since then but I still think it's crap. Why would I trust someone else to watch over my data. Not to mention their systems could probably be compromised by an SQL Injection, or the myriad other popular methods. Their system could have an outage and prevent anyone from accessing their data. Not everyone has broadband internet. Just too many disadvantages in my opinion. I can see it as a good idea for the enterprise if they used it internally but not for the general consumer. It really wouldn't be any different than setting up a file-server in your own home. Booting up another computer with a CD/DVD live Operating System and no HDD or a small HDD/SSD, mount the file-server and run software from it, store your files etc.


Well Wiktionary doesn't have my definition of "Personal Computer" but I even consider a simple calculator as a personal computer. (Wow the definition sure has changed a lot since the last time I looked it up. It's completely different from then. Some ten years ago I think?)


FreeBSD user here! You would be surprised at how much the BSD community doesn't care how little known it is. To us we use what we like and it will keep on living. You don't want to use FreeBSD? Hey that's your choice. We're not going to try to shove our BSDL down your throat if you don't want it. I'm actually glad *BSD is not as popular as Linux.
 
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ikreos

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Speaking of ReactOS for some reason or another I recently looked up end-of-line terminators and it went something like this:


Mac OS before 10: CR


Unix-like + Mac OS 10: LF


ReactOS:RiscOS: LF+CR


Micro$oft systems + ReactOS: CR+LF


EDIT: Whoops! How the hell did I overlook that!
 
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Mr Rob

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FreeBSD user here!

I've tinkered with FreeBSD a bit in the past, but never used it long term. It still rocks as 'the most stable OS on the planet', yes? I know everyone always said it's more stable than Linux, but I've never had to run any super-critical systems before.


Though I tried it after I used Linux, so all I saw was Gnome2 on top of a system with configuration files in slightly different places, which made me sad. That's also why I stay away from the Red Hat type distributions (CentOS, Fedora (Beefy Miracle!), etc.) and stick to Debian type distributions.


I may also have a Solaris disc around here somewhere....


And ZFS is sexy.
 

Caine

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Speaking of ReactOS for some reason or another I recently looked up end-of-line terminators and it went something like this:


Mac OS before 10: CR


Unix-like + Mac OS 10: LF


ReactOS: LF+CR


Micro$oft systems: CR+LF
Really? ReactOS uses LF+CR :D I never knew. Why? They aim to be windows compatible.
 

ikreos

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I've tinkered with FreeBSD a bit in the past, but never used it long term. It still rocks as 'the most stable OS on the planet', yes? I know everyone always said it's more stable than Linux, but I've never had to run any super-critical systems before.


Though I tried it after I used Linux, so all I saw was Gnome2 on top of a system with configuration files in slightly different places, which made me sad. That's also why I stay away from the Red Hat type distributions (CentOS, Fedora (Beefy Miracle!), etc.) and stick to Debian type distributions.


I may also have a Solaris disc around here somewhere....


And ZFS is sexy.

I wouldn't really say it's more stable than Linux or Windows or <insert os here>. Any OS can be stable if it's maintained right. However *BSD has a vastly simple, easy to use and understand update process, package(binaries) system, ports(source) system (pkgsrc on NetBSD), and configuration. Installation is similar to Slackware using a TUI. Jails are a plus and as you said ZFS. Best of all is it has better documentation than any other system I've seen. Plus there's always PC-BSD based on FreeBSD with KDE 4 and in version 9 a choice between KDE 4 (bleh), Gnome 2/3 (bleh), and XFCE (eh) pre-installed.


@Caine: The Acorn BBC uses it too, so it probably came from that. Oops! That was supposed to be RiscOS. Changed it in the offending post.


EDIT: Added for kicks. The BSD-tans. Full Image here DeviantArt Page


BSD_tan_group_shot_by_DeviantOS_tans.png
 
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gunni

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Part of the problem, too, is marketing. I've had people adamantly argue that their iMac is not a PC. Because it's a Mac, and PC's are Windows. That's right, all personal computers are Windows somehow. And that marketing scheme has lead to the deterioration of the term 'PC' in today's world, which is a shame. Much like all 'hackers' are evil people who break into systems. Deterioration of terminology. But I digress.


I would consider all laptops, desktops (very much not dead, desktop workstations are still very handy and useful) and even netbooks to be 'Personal Computers'. I'd then consider smartphones and tablets to be 'mobile computers' though that definition is a bit fuzzy, too.
Well I suppose the Mac isn't a PC in the sense that it's not what used to be labelled "IBM PC and compatible" but otherwise I'd say they are PCs and say it quite loudly in the presence of Mac owners. ;)


Back on track I wouldn't go as far as calling an Android phone a "personal computer" since that it is after all, a phone first of all despite its other abilites
 

ikreos

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Oops! Made a mistake in my post about end-of-line terminators. It was supposed to be RiscOS not ReactOS. I corrected the offending post.
 

Prometheus

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but otherwise I'd say they are PCs and say it quite loudly in the presence of Mac owners. ;)
I hope you don't do that in the presence of Mac owners who agree with your definition. :p We would just think you've got a hearing problem or something. :p
 
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ikreos

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"Risc architecture is going to change everything."

Quoting the movie "Hackers" huh, one of my favorites despite the idiosyncrasies. I hope it does, we need a viable alternative to x86 (at least I want one - ARM FTW). Recently I read ARM is finally coming out with a 64-bit version of it's architecture. I also wonder how NVIDIA's Project Denver is going to turn out.
 
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