You are in the: Small Business Computing Channelarrow View Sites +
Small Business Technology
» ECommerce-Guide | Small Business Computing | Webopedia | WinPlanet |  »Close
Enter a word for a definition... ...or choose a computer category.

   Term of the Day
   New Terms
   New Links
   Quick Reference
   Did You Know?
   Tech Support
   Webopedia Jobs
   About Us
   Link to Us

talk to us
   Submit a URL
   Suggest a Term
   Report an Error
Internet Lists
Internet News
Internet Resources
Linux/Open Source
Personal Technology
Small Business
Windows Technology
xSP Resources
Corporate Info
Tech Jobs
E-mail Offers
  Be a Commerce Partner

Last modified: Friday, January 04, 2002 

A programmable machine. The two principal characteristics of a computer are:
  • It responds to a specific set of instructions in a well-defined manner.
  • Modern computers are electronic and digital. The actual machinery -- wires, transistors, and circuits -- is called hardware; the instructions and data are called software.

    All general-purpose computers require the following hardware components:

  • memory : Enables a computer to store, at least temporarily, data and programs.
  • mass storage device : Allows a computer to permanently retain large amounts of data. Common mass storage devices include disk drives and tape drives.
  • input device : Usually a keyboard and mouse, the input device is the conduit through which data and instructions enter a computer.
  • output device : A display screen, printer, or other device that lets you see what the computer has accomplished.
  • central processing unit (CPU): The heart of the computer, this is the component that actually executes instructions.
  • In addition to these components, many others make it possible for the basic components to work together efficiently. For example, every computer requires a bus that transmits data from one part of the computer to another.

    Computers can be generally classified by size and power as follows, though there is considerable overlap:

  • personal computer : A small, single-user computer based on a microprocessor. In addition to the microprocessor, a personal computer has a keyboard for entering data, a monitor for displaying information, and a storage device for saving data.
  • workstation : A powerful, single-user computer. A workstation is like a personal computer, but it has a more powerful microprocessor and a higher-quality monitor.
  • minicomputer : A multi-user computer capable of supporting from 10 to hundreds of users simultaneously.
  • mainframe : A powerful multi-user computer capable of supporting many hundreds or thousands of users simultaneously.
  • supercomputer : An extremely fast computer that can perform hundreds of millions of instructions per second.
  • E-mail this definition to a colleague

    Sponsored listings

    Computers: Dell - Scale your business with Dell products and services, including Computers.

    Best Buy For Business. Find Computers and more. - Visit us online to find Computers and more than 100,000 other business-class technology products not available in stores. Shop now.

    HP Business Store: Computers - Purchase computers online. Also find HP Compaq notebooks and desktops, HP printers, servers, handhelds, and storage solutions.

    For pages about computer . Also check out the following links!

    Related Links

    Building Your Own PC 
    What hard-core techies and companies like Dell and Compaq have been doing for years is what any computer user can learn how to do - build a computer from scratch. Let SE take you on a stroll through the park and ease the pain of building a DIY PC.

    IEEE's Computer magazine
    Monthly magazine received by all members of the IEEE Computer Society. Offers articles of interest to computing professionals, computer scientists and engineers.

    Price Watch - street price search engine
    Offers a way to find prices on computer products (systems, CPU, memory, storage, networking, multimedia, etc.) from many manufacturers. Prices are entered by the manufacturer using a proprietary Price Watch Info-Link system. Users then see a date and time posting with each product chosen.

    Sponsored listings

    uBid® on Computers - Fraud-proof auctions on Computers. Bid on or buy now to save big.

    HP Home & Home Office Store: Desktops - Shop for HP Pavilion and Compaq desktop PCs at the official Hewlett Packard store. Find the complete selection of HP home and home office products.

    Logic Supply: Computers - Mini-ITX computer systems and components designed for embedded applications and applied computing.

    Computers: General Digital Corporation - Single Board Computer with 10.4" to 15.1" flat panel LCD screen. Many configurations available or will build to suit. Rugged, all-metal construction. Industrial Computers - Provides database of suppliers for industrial computers. Includes catalogs, technical information, and supplier contact information.

    related categories

    Types of Computers

    related terms






    personal computer




    Give Us Your

    computer Products
    Compare Products,Prices and Stores

    Shop by Category:
    PC Laptops
    2589 Model Matches

    PC Desktops
    2152 Model Matches

    14 Model Matches

    89 Model Matches

    21274 Store Offers

    JupiterWeb networks:

    Search JupiterWeb:

    Jupitermedia Corporation has two divisions: Jupiterimages andJupiterWeb

    Jupitermedia Corporate Info

    Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy.

    Web Hosting | Newsletters | Tech Jobs | Shopping | E-mail Offers