- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Adobe Reader
  2. Adware
  3. Altavista
  4. AOL
  5. Apple Macintosh
  6. Application software
  7. Arrow key
  8. Artificial Intelligence
  9. ASCII
  10. Assembly language
  11. Automatic translation
  12. Avatar
  13. Babylon
  14. Bandwidth
  15. Bit
  16. BitTorrent
  17. Black hat
  18. Blog
  19. Bluetooth
  20. Bulletin board system
  21. Byte
  22. Cache memory
  23. Celeron
  24. Central processing unit
  25. Chat room
  26. Client
  27. Command line interface
  28. Compiler
  29. Computer
  30. Computer bus
  31. Computer card
  32. Computer display
  33. Computer file
  34. Computer games
  35. Computer graphics
  36. Computer hardware
  37. Computer keyboard
  38. Computer networking
  39. Computer printer
  40. Computer program
  41. Computer programmer
  42. Computer science
  43. Computer security
  44. Computer software
  45. Computer storage
  46. Computer system
  47. Computer terminal
  48. Computer virus
  49. Computing
  50. Conference call
  51. Context menu
  52. Creative commons
  53. Creative Commons License
  54. Creative Technology
  55. Cursor
  56. Data
  57. Database
  58. Data storage device
  59. Debuggers
  60. Demo
  61. Desktop computer
  62. Digital divide
  63. Discussion groups
  64. DNS server
  65. Domain name
  66. DOS
  67. Download
  68. Download manager
  69. DVD-ROM
  70. DVD-RW
  71. E-mail
  72. E-mail spam
  73. File Transfer Protocol
  74. Firewall
  75. Firmware
  76. Flash memory
  77. Floppy disk drive
  78. GNU
  79. GNU General Public License
  80. GNU Project
  81. Google
  82. Google AdWords
  83. Google bomb
  84. Graphics
  85. Graphics card
  86. Hacker
  87. Hacker culture
  88. Hard disk
  89. High-level programming language
  90. Home computer
  91. HTML
  92. Hyperlink
  93. IBM
  94. Image processing
  95. Image scanner
  96. Instant messaging
  97. Instruction
  98. Intel
  99. Intel Core 2
  100. Interface
  101. Internet
  102. Internet bot
  103. Internet Explorer
  104. Internet protocols
  105. Internet service provider
  106. Interoperability
  107. IP addresses
  108. IPod
  109. Joystick
  110. JPEG
  111. Keyword
  112. Laptop computer
  113. Linux
  114. Linux kernel
  115. Liquid crystal display
  116. List of file formats
  117. List of Google products
  118. Local area network
  119. Logitech
  120. Machine language
  121. Mac OS X
  122. Macromedia Flash
  123. Mainframe computer
  124. Malware
  125. Media center
  126. Media player
  127. Megabyte
  128. Microsoft
  129. Microsoft Windows
  130. Microsoft Word
  131. Mirror site
  132. Modem
  133. Motherboard
  134. Mouse
  135. Mouse pad
  136. Mozilla Firefox
  137. Mp3
  138. MPEG
  139. MPEG-4
  140. Multimedia
  141. Musical Instrument Digital Interface
  142. Netscape
  143. Network card
  144. News ticker
  145. Office suite
  146. Online auction
  147. Online chat
  148. Open Directory Project
  149. Open source
  150. Open source software
  151. Opera
  152. Operating system
  153. Optical character recognition
  154. Optical disc
  155. output
  156. PageRank
  157. Password
  158. Pay-per-click
  159. PC speaker
  160. Peer-to-peer
  161. Pentium
  162. Peripheral
  163. Personal computer
  164. Personal digital assistant
  165. Phishing
  166. Pirated software
  167. Podcasting
  168. Pointing device
  169. POP3
  170. Programming language
  171. QuickTime
  172. Random access memory
  173. Routers
  174. Safari
  175. Scalability
  176. Scrollbar
  177. Scrolling
  178. Scroll wheel
  179. Search engine
  180. Security cracking
  181. Server
  182. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  183. Skype
  184. Social software
  185. Software bug
  186. Software cracker
  187. Software library
  188. Software utility
  189. Solaris Operating Environment
  190. Sound Blaster
  191. Soundcard
  192. Spam
  193. Spamdexing
  194. Spam in blogs
  195. Speech recognition
  196. Spoofing attack
  197. Spreadsheet
  198. Spyware
  199. Streaming media
  200. Supercomputer
  201. Tablet computer
  202. Telecommunications
  203. Text messaging
  204. Trackball
  205. Trojan horse
  206. TV card
  207. Unicode
  208. Uniform Resource Identifier
  209. Unix
  210. URL redirection
  211. USB flash drive
  212. USB port
  213. User interface
  214. Vlog
  215. Voice over IP
  216. Warez
  217. Wearable computer
  218. Web application
  219. Web banner
  220. Web browser
  221. Web crawler
  222. Web directories
  223. Web indexing
  224. Webmail
  225. Web page
  226. Website
  227. Wiki
  228. Wikipedia
  229. WIMP
  230. Windows CE
  231. Windows key
  232. Windows Media Player
  233. Windows Vista
  234. Word processor
  235. World Wide Web
  236. Worm
  237. XML
  238. X Window System
  239. Yahoo
  240. Zombie computer

This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Desktop computer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Desktop computer with several common peripherals (Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, microphone and a printer)
Desktop computer with several common peripherals (Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, microphone and a printer)

A desktop computer is a personal computer made for use on a desk in an office or home and is distinguished from portable computers such as laptops or PDAs and specialized computers such as servers.

Desktops are currently the most affordable computers and ubiquitous in businesses, schools, and households; they are used for performing office tasks, organizing digital photos, video editing and Internet access. Nearly all desktop computers are modular, with components that can easily be replaced or upgraded.

Desktop computers come in a variety of case styles ranging from large vertical towers to small form factor models that can be tucked behind an LCD monitor.

Desktop computers are commonly connected to a power strip.


Desktop computers were widely produced throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. Originally they were named "microcomputers" to differentiate them from the mainframe and minicomputers that were traditionally available for sale by the major computer companies at the time. In 1975 the MITS Altair 8800 became the first pre-assembled desktop computer available on the market. However, due to the computer's design being geared more towards the hobbyist market the appeal of the machine was limited.

1977 saw the near-simultaneous release in the U.S. of three computers that equally deserve mention as the forerunners of today's desktop computer: the Apple II, the Commodore PET. and the Tandy TRS-80 computer. Each of these machines would be considered crude by today's standards; the TRS-80, for example, comprised a green phosphor 12" screen, an expansion box with 4 kilobytes of memory, a keyboard and a cassette recorder. It retailed for around 695.

Through the 1980s the desktop computer became more and more commonplace in society. Sales boomed as a wide spectrum of users, from the largest corporation down to the individual at home, found exciting new uses for the machines. However, it was not until the internet explosion in the mid-1990s that the desktop computer became nearly ubiquitous in our modern era.


An exploded view of a modern desktop computer:   Display Motherboard  CPU (Microprocessor) Primary storage (RAM) Expansion cards Power supply  Optical disc drive Secondary storage (HD)  Keyboard  Mouse
An exploded view of a modern desktop computer:
  1. Display
  2. Motherboard
  3. CPU (Microprocessor)
  4. Primary storage (RAM)
  5. Expansion cards
  6. Power supply
  7. Optical disc drive
  8. Secondary storage (HD)
  9. Keyboard
  10. Mouse

The hardware in a desktop computer is modular, making it easy for someone with intermediate knowledge of a computer to modify one. Desktop computers are generally more affordable than notebook computers. This is because no extra effort is needed to miniaturize the components, or to manufacture components that use up less power.


  • Fan - cools the computer. These are present on most computers. There are often multiple, one to cool the processor(see below), one in the power supply, and possibly additional ones for the graphics card and general cooling.
  • Motherboard - links all of the components together and routes data.
  • Hard drive - location where all information can be stored even when power is off.
  • Optical (CD-ROM or DVD) Drive - reads most or all types of CDs and/or DVDs.
  • Processor.- The main brain of the computer.
  • CPU Cooler - cools the processing unit. Typically a fan combined with a heatsink.
  • RAM - short-term data storage, which works only when power is on.
  • Graphics card - codes video output and delivers to monitor.
  • Physics card - performs physics computations in some modern games.
  • Sound card - codes sound output and delivers to speakers.
  • Speakers - deliver sound.
  • Modem - used to access data via a telephone line (dial-up connection). Used to access BBS and the Internet.
  • Network card - allows the computer to be linked to a computer network where it can communicate with other computers. Also used as a means of accessing the Internet via a broadband connection.
  • Power supply - A device that provides power to the rest of the computer parts.
  • Floppy Drive - Reads and Writes floppy disks. Although largely supplanted by CDs and Flash Drives, is still common on many systems, and may be required during set-up on certain operating systems.


All desktop computers have ports which are used to plug external devices into the computer such as monitors, keyboards, printers and scanners.

  • USB - Used for the majority of peripherals. Designed to be a universal connector, to be compatible with any device.
  • Ethernet - Used for networking and broadband Internet connections.
  • Modem - Used for data access via a telephone line (eg. dial-up Internet connections). Slowly being replaced by broadband connections as dial-up becomes an obsolete technology.
  • Headphone jack - Used for connecting sound devices. (USB can also be used)
  • Serial - Used for connecting any device that uses a serial connector. These are being replaced by USB.
  • Parallel - Used for connecting any device that uses a parallel connector. These are being replaced by USB.
  • PS/2 - Used for computer mice and keyboards (These are being replaced by USB)
  • Video (VGA) - Used for connecting a monitor / projector with analog signal.
  • Digital Video Interface (DVI) - Used for connecting a monitor, but keeps in the signal in digital format. Usually used for LCD displays.
  • Power - Used for connecting the power lead.
  • FireWire/IEEE 1394 - Used for connecting external hard drives and camcorders.
  • Card reader - used to read flash memory cards belonging to digital cameras, mobile phones, music players etc.


All-in-one computers are desktop computers that combine the monitor into the same case as the CPU. The term, "all-in-one" was initially associated with Digital Equipment Corporation's VAX "all-in-one" software which provided a common menu to choose: email, spreadsheet, database, file system, etc. The "mouse" had not been invented yet so everything was driven by the keyboard. The original Macintosh introduced in 1984 by Apple Computer was one of the first all-in-one computers, In 1998 Apple released the iMac which was also an all-in-one computer. These types of desktop computers save desk space, but are limited when it comes to expansion to improve their capabilities. PC manufacturers such as Gateway have also released all-in-one computers. Some PC and refrigerator manufacturers have even included full featured PCs and monitors in refrigerators which could be considered all-in-one.

See also

  • Desktop replacement computer
  • Desknote
  • Laptop
  • Personal computer
  • Operating system
  • Software

External links

  • Guide to buy a PC
  • Dummies Guides to Components inside a Desktop Computer
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