When it comes to different types of computers, most people are aware of only two: the laptop and the desktop. While this is not a terrible way of distinguishing between computers, especially since these are the two that we primarily encounter in our day-to-day life, there are four main types. The four categories are the microcomputer, minicomputer, mainframe computer, and the supercomputer.
1. The Minicomputer
Also called a midrange, is typically used by firms and small businesses. As the name implies, the minicomputer is small in stature but is capable of data storage and processing but not to the degree that its larger counterparts can. It is important to note that the design of the minicomputer is not for individual single use because of its capabilities of being accessed by a variety of users from designated areas. What this means is that once the Minicomputer is installed, the technician will set up access points that allow any approved individual within the business access all of the information stored on the computer. There are no private files; they are all shared and easily accessed.
2. The Microcomputer
This is one that most people are familiar with because it includes smartphones, tablets, desktops, PDAs, and laptops. Out of the four main types, the Microcomputer is the fastest growing because there is a huge demand for portable technology. It goes without saying that the primary design functions of the Microcomputer are education, entertainment, and work-related purposes. While they do not have as much storage capacity as their larger counterparts, the ability to store more information on these devices is steadily improving with each new product.
3. The Mainframe Computer
Despite not being as powerful as the Supercomputer, the Mainframe is frequently the go-to computer for government organizations and large firms. The main reason behind this is the fact that the Mainframe is exponentially more affordable than the Supercomputer. Another reason for the popularity of these organizations is the fact that it is smaller than the Supercomputer which requires a significant amount of space. One hitch though is that it needs an air-conditioned area or room that does not reach temperatures exceeding 75 degrees. Because of its size, fans built into the Mainframe can only do so much to keep the parts cool, and if exposed to warm temperatures, the computer will slow down significantly.
4. The Supercomputer
When you watch old videos of computers that are the size of a small house what you are seeing is a Supercomputer. This type is by far the most powerful out of all of the computers. This is because its size allows the computer to store and process vast amounts of information quickly. Typically used for research and exploration, the Supercomputer is a popular choice for organizations like NASA, who need a task specific, specialized computer. As far as NASA is concerned, their Supercomputer is used for all space exploration tasks including launching and guiding shuttles.
Watch this video for more in depth information on types of computers: