What Are The Types Of Digital Computers?

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There are two main categories of digital computers, namely general purpose and special purpose computers. Special purpose computers are designed and built for a specific application, whereas general purpose computers, the ones seen most commonly today, can be used for any application.

Within these two categories of digital computers, a classification based on capacity and performance allows a further distinction between four types of digital computers, namely the super, mainframe, mini and micro computers.

  • Super Computers
Super computers are able to process several billion instructions a second. As a rule, they are used for applications requiring extensive numerical computations. Some of their uses are weather forecasting, stock analysis, scientific simulations, fluid dynamic calculations, animated graphics, electronic design, geological data analysis and nuclear energy research. This is the most expensive type of digital computer.

  • Mainframe Computers
Most mainframe computers also process data at extremely high speeds, usually in the hundreds of millions of instructions per second. They are generally used in airlines, banking and railways, for instance, and are not quite as expensive as super computers.

  • Mini Computers
Mini computers are generally lower in terms of storage capacity and speed when compared to mainframe computers. Mini computers do not have all the features available in mainframes. Their overall performance is therefore also less than the performance of mainframes, making them cheaper than mainframes.

  • Micro Computers
Microprocessors, or single chip CPUs, gave rise to much cheaper micro computers. These are classified into desktop, laptop and handheld computers, or PDAs.

Handheld computers or PDAs, Personal Digital Assistants, are usually pen-based and battery-powered. They are small enough to be carried anywhere. Using a pen like stylus, they accept handwritten input directly onto touch screens. Although not as powerful as laptops or desktops, they are useful for storing addresses, scheduling appointments and games.

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