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  • 1. Personal ComputerA personal computer (PC) is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, andoriginal sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operateddirectly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator. This contrasted with thebatch processing or time-sharing models which allowed larger, more expensiveminicomputer and mainframe systems to be used by many people, usually at the sametime. Large data processing systems require a full-time staff to operate efficiently.Software applications for most personal computers include, but are not limited to, wordprocessing, spreadsheets, databases, Web browsers and e-mail clients, digital mediaplayback, games, and myriad personal productivity and special-purpose softwareapplications. Modern personal computers often have connections to the Internet, allowingaccess to the World Wide Web and a wide range of other resources. Personal computersmay be connected to a local area network (LAN), either by a cable or a wirelessconnection. A personal computer may be a desktop computer or a laptop, tablet, or ahandheld PC.Early PC owners usually had to write their own programs to do anything useful with themachines, even lacking an operating system. The very earliest microcomputers, equippedwith a front panel, required hand-loading of a bootstrap program to load programs fromexternal storage (paper tape, cassettes, or eventually diskettes). Before very long,automatic booting from permanent read-only memory became universal.Todays users have access to a wide range of commercial software and freeware, which isprovided in ready-to-run or ready-to-compile form. Since the early 1990s, Microsoftoperating systems and Intel hardware have dominated much of the personal computermarket, first with MS-DOS and then with the "Wintel" (Windows + Intel) combination.Popular alternatives to Microsofts Windows operating systems include Apples Mac OSX and the free open-source Linux and BSD operating systems. AMD provides the majoralternative to Intels central processing units. Applications and games for PCs aretypically developed and distributed independently from the hardware or OSmanufacturers, whereas software for many mobile phones and other portable systems isapproved and distributed through a centralized online store.

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