Types of Computer
We can categorize computer by two ways: data handling capabilities and size.
On the basis of data handling capabilities, the computer is of three types:
1) Analogue Computer
Analogue computers are designed to process the analogue data. Analogue data is continuous data that changes continuously and cannot have discrete values such as speed, temperature, pressure and current.
The analogue computers measure the continuous changes in physical quantity and generally render output as a reading on a dial or scale.
Analogue computers directly accept the data from the measuring device without first converting it into numbers and codes.
Speedometer and mercury thermometer are examples of analogue computers.
2) Digital Computer
Digital computer is designed to perform calculations and logical operations at high speed. It accepts the raw data as digits or numbers and processes it with programs stored in its memory to produce output. All modern computers like laptops and desktops that we use at home or office are digital computers.
3) Hybrid Computer
Hybrid computer has features of both analogue and digital computer. It is fast like analogue computer and has memory and accuracy like digital computers. It can process both continuous and discrete data. So it is widely used in specialized applications where both analogue and digital data is processed. For example, a processor is used in petrol pumps that converts the measurements of fuel flow into quantity and price.
On the basis of size, the computer can be of five types:
Supercomputers are the biggest and fastest computers. They are designed to process huge amount of data. A supercomputer can process trillions of instructions in a second. It has thousands of interconnected processors.
Supercomputers are particularly used in scientific and engineering applications such as weather forecasting, scientific simulations and nuclear energy research. First supercomputer was developed by Roger Cray in 1976.
2) Mainframe computer
Mainframe computers are designed to support hundreds or thousands of users simultaneously. They can support multiple programs at the same time. It means they can execute different processes simultaneously. These features of mainframe computers make them ideal for big organizations like banking and telecom sectors, which need to manage and process high volume of data.
3) Miniframe computer
It is a midsize multiprocessing computer. It consists of two or more processors and can support 4 to 200 users at one time. Miniframe computers are used in institutes and departments for the tasks such as billing, accounting and inventory management.
Workstation is a single user computer that is designed for technical or scientific applications. It has faster microprocessor, large amount of RAM and high speed graphic adapters. It generally performs a specific job with great expertise; accordingly, they are of different types such as graphics workstation, music workstation and engineering design workstation.
Microcomputer is also known as personal computer. It is a general purpose computer that is designed for individual use. It has a microprocessor as a central processing unit, memory, storage area, input unit and output unit. Laptops and desktop computers are examples of microcomputers.