10+ Different Types of Computer | Explained

A computer could be described by various terms like by size, capability of doing tasks, functions and more. Technically, any device is a computer if it has at least one processing element/microprocessor. These processing elements handle the arithmetic and logic operations.  In a very simple term, a computer can be defined as a device that receives various inputs through keyboard, mouse, mic or webcam, process it and displays the result on monitor. Below, we have listed 10 different types of computer that includes both tradition and modern machines. I know this is most common topic but fun to explore…

Grab the Knowledge: Colossus is the first electric programmable computer which was designed by Tommy Flower, demonstrated in December 1943.

1. Desktop

desktopPhoto credit: Wikimedia

A desktop computer is a personal computer which is designed to use from a single permanent location. They offer more power and storage capacity in less price than portable devices. The most common components are monitor, CPU, keyboard and mouse. There is one more device falls under the same group i.e. All in one Computer, in which CPU and monitor part is integrated to form a single unit.

Advantages of desktop

  • Low price
  • Large screen
  • Several standardize extension slots
  • Replacement of damaged part is easy
  • Suitable for gaming and watching movies
  • More space for cooling fans to dissipate heat

#1 to #6 falls under the category of Personal Computer Device

2. Laptop

laptopPhoto credit: Pixabay

A Laptop, also called Notebook is a portable computer device with all parts keyboard, CPU, memory, trackball integrated in a single unit. Additionally, it contains a battery that powers the device for an extended period of time. Generally they share RAM with video channel which reduces the performance of the machine as compared to equivalent desktop. Laptops have few major cons too, for example you can’t easily replace the keyboard and screen in case of damage. However, memory or hard disk upgrades are often easy but they cost you more than equivalent desktop module.

Advantages of Laptop

  • Need less space
  • Better resale value
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Powersaver (uses 15-25 watts)

3. Netbook

netbookPhoto credit: Wikimedia

Netbook is ultra-portable computer which is smaller than traditional laptops. They are small, lightweight and inexpensive computers. The keyboard and screen size is little shorter and performance is quite slow as compared to laptop. This machine is designed for people who mostly use computer for editing text/word files, browsing internet or other lightweight tasks and looking for cheap laptop. Netbook usually have screen size 5 to 12 inches, weighs around 1 kg and they don’t come with optical drive.

Advantages of Netbook

  • Long batter life
  • Sweet and petite
  • Easy to carry and pack
  • Smaller, lighter, cheaper

4. Tablets

TabletPhoto credit: Wikimedia

A tablet is a mobile computer in which all units, display, processor, graphics, battery are integrated in single unit. The device consists of camera (front and back), accelerometer, sensors and keypad is replaced by touchscreen technology to get user input. There are few basic buttons also to control audio and power. They are larger than smartphones and PDAs (usually 7 to 10 inches). Moreover, millions of apps are out there to enhance the user experience.

Advantages of Tablets

  • Long battery life
  • Small and light weight
  • Recognizes handwriting
  • You can connect keyboard
  • High definition, anti-glare display
  • Speech and gesture reorganization
  • Can be connected with other peripherals
  • Wireless local area and internet connectivity

5. Smartphones

smartphonesPhoto credit: Flickr

Smartphone is same as mobile phone but with more computing capability, connectivity and features than traditional phone. Media player, digital camera, GPS, sensors, accelerometer, touchscreen, advanced web browsing, WiFi, 3rd party apps; all this packed in a single device. The screen size usually ranges from 2 to 6 inches (diagonally). Currently, there are more than 1.75 Billion smartphone users in the world. The most popular operating systems of smartphones are Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry, Bada. More than 90% of smartphones (worldwide sold till date) are running on Andoird and iOS combined.

Advantages of Smartphones

  • Endless applications
  • Photography options
  • Browse internet anywhere
  • Lot of communication options
  • High Storage and performance capabilities
  • Can be used for almost all business purpose

6. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

pdaPhoto credit: Wikimedia            

Personal Digital Assistant is a mobile device that uses flash memory instead of hard drive. They have an electronic visual display that relies on touchscreen technology for input. They can be connected with internet, intranet and extranet via Wifi. They are lightweight and smaller in size with reasonable battery life. The processing power is very low as compared to other devices. At present, Smartphones have completely replaced the PDAs and they are no longer being produced.

7. Wearable Computer

Upcoming Screen Less Display Technology - eye tapPhoto credit: Wikimedia

This is the latest trend in computing world. This computer has been designed for special as well as general purpose of information technologies. They have much complex functionality than desktop and smartphones. There is a constant interaction between user and machine. These kinds of machines are still under huge development. The advanced wearable computer device allows you to take pictures, record audios, browse the web, download files, respond to voice commands and more. Few examples are Google glasses, smartwatches etc.

Advantages of Wearable Computers

  • It offers convenience, you can interact with device without using your hand
  • Allows you to stay better engaged with surrounding environment
  • Voice command and hand held gesture for operating the device
  • It’s an instant language translator too
  • More immediate
  • More fashionable

8. Supercomputer

supercomputerPhoto credit: Wikimedia

Supercomputers were introduced in the 1960s and they are not used for general purpose. It is a device with massive number of processors, large storage memory, super-fast speed and incredible performance. Basically, thousands of advanced processors are collaborated, where each processor element is assigned with a segment of task. All processors are integrated in the form of particular architecture like hypercube, mesh etc where they process parallel to perform numerous heavy tasks in less time. A supercomputer costs millions of dollars. As of 2013, Tianhe-2 is the fastest super computer in the world at 33.86 quadrillion floating point operations per second.

Applications of Supercomputer

  • Climate research
  • Space exploration
  • Molecular modeling
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Weather forecasting
  • Genetic engineering
  • Oil and Gas exploration

9. Workstation

WorkstationPhoto credit: Wikimedia

Workstation is same as desktop that serve one user only but with enhanced capabilities, more power and features. It is designed to do few heavy tasks that desktop can’t handle like technical and scientific applications. A workstation consists of powerful CPU, HD graphics, high storage capacity and multitasking capabilities to visualize and manipulate complex data like animation or rendering of images, 3d mechanical design, engineering simulation etc.

Advantages of Workstation

  • High performance
  • Supports multiple display
  • Multiple processor socket
  • Supports ECC (error correcting code) memory
  • Reliable operating system with advanced features

10. Server

serverPhoto credit: Wikimedia

A computer which is used to provide service to other computers over a network is called server. For example a computer dedicated to set of files is file server, a computer that process web pages and application is web server and a computer dealing with large amount of database could be a database server.  They are just a computer programs that serve the request of other program. Any computer or dedicated (more secure) computer could be programmed to act as a server.

11. Mainframe

mainframePhoto credit: Wikimedia

Mainframe is enterprise server which is used to handle industry statistics and bulk data processing for example performing millions of transactions per day. Main frame refers to the large cabinet that contains main memory and CPU. The modern machine size is big as almirah and because they produce a lot of heat, it requires exceptional cooling system. They are generally used by large companies and organization to maintain and process their data.

Advantages of Mainframe

  • Massive throughput
  • Highly reliable and secure
  • Mainframes run multiple sessions
  • Extremely fast in terms of handling complex data
  • Can run on more than one operating system at once
Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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