Four types of computers


Since the advent of the first computer different types and sizes of computers are offering different services. Computers can be as big as occupying a large building and as small as a laptop or a microcontroller in mobile & embedded systems.The four basic types of computers are.

  1. Super computer
  2. Mainframe Computer
  3. Minicomputer
  4. Microcomputer


supercomputer - Types of Computers

The most powerful computers in terms of performance and data processing are the supercomputers. These are specialized and task specific computers used by large organizations. These computers are used for research and exploration purposes, like NASA uses supercomputers for launching space shuttles, controlling them and for space exploration purpose.

                See Also: What is a Computer?

The supercomputers are very expensive and very large in size. It can be accommodated in large air-conditioned rooms; some super computers can span an entire building.

In 1964, Seymour cray designed the first supercomptuer CDC 6600.


Uses of Supercomputer

In Pakistan and other countries Supercomputers are used by Educational Institutes like NUST (Pakistan) for research purposes. Pakistan Atomic Energy commission & Heavy Industry Taxila uses supercomputers for Research purposes.

Space Exploration

Supercomputers are used to study the origin of the universe, the dark-matters. For these studies scientist use IBM’s powerful supercomputer “Roadrunner” at National Laboratory Los Alamos.

Earthquake studies

Supercomputers are used to study the Earthquakes phenomenon. Besides that supercomputers are used for natural resources exploration, like natural gas, petroleum, coal, etc.

Weather Forecasting

Supercomputers are used for weather forecasting, and to study the nature and extent of Hurricanes, Rainfalls, windstorms, etc.

Nuclear weapons testing

Supercomputers are used to run weapon simulation that can test the Range, accuracy & impact of Nuclear weapons.   

Popular Supercomputers

  •  IBM’s Sequoia, in United States
  •  Fujitsu’s K Computer in Japan
  •  IBM’s Mira in United States
  •  IBM’s SuperMUC in Germany
  •  NUDT Tianhe-1A in China

Mainframe computer


Although Mainframes are not as powerful as supercomputers, but certainly they are quite expensive nonetheless, and many large firms & government organizations uses Mainframes to run their business operations. The Mainframe computers can be accommodated in large air-conditioned rooms because of its size. Super-computers are the fastest computers with large data storage capacity, Mainframes can also process & store large amount of data. Banks educational institutions & insurance companies use mainframe computers to store data about their customers, students & insurance policy holders.

Popular Mainframe computers

  •  Fujitsu’s ICL VME
  •  Hitachi’s Z800


Minicomputer - Types of Computers

Minicomputers are used by small businesses & firms. Minicomputers are also called as “Midrange Computers”. These are small machines and can be accommodated on a disk with not as processing and data storage capabilities as super-computers & Mainframes. These computers are not designed for a single user. Individual departments of a large company or organizations use Mini-computers for specific purposes. For example, a production department can use Mini-computers for monitoring certain production process.

Popular Minicomputers

  •  K-202
  •  Texas Instrument TI-990
  •  SDS-92
  •  IBM Midrange computers


Microcomputer - Types of Computers

Desktop computers, laptops, personal digital assistant (PDA), tablets & smartphones are all types of microcomputers. The micro-computers are widely used & the fastest growing computers. These computers are the cheapest among the other three types of computers. The Micro-computers are specially designed for general usage like entertainment, education and work purposes. Well known manufacturers of Micro-computer are Dell, Apple, Samsung, Sony & Toshiba.

Desktop computers, Gaming consoles, Sound & Navigation system of a car, Netbooks, Notebooks, PDA’s, Tablet PC’s, Smartphones, Calculators are all type of Microcomputers.

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