Classification Of Computers By Purpose

In our previous post we looked at the different ways in which computers can be classified. We also dealt with classifying computers based on their sizes and capacities.
Computers can also be classified based on their purposes and this is what this post is about. By purpose computers can be classified into two categories, these are General purpose computers and Special purpose computers.

READ ALSO : Classification Of Computers By Size And Capacity

General Purpose Computers

There are computers which are designed to be used to perform the most common kinds of tasks. These computers are referred to as general purpose computers. Among the numerous tasks or functions general purpose computers can be used to perform are word processing, spreadsheets, database management, presentation graphics, graphic design, browsing and internet communications, recording and playing music, watching movies, playing games, performing educational tasks, etc.

In order for these functions to be performed, basic systems and multiple application software are used to control the computer to enable users to perform these tasks. These basic software will include the Operating System, Word processors, spreadsheets, database management systems, presentation graphics software, Web browsers and others. Examples of general purpose computers are:

  • Supercomputers : Extremely powerful computers used for complex computations.
  • Mainframe computers : Powerful computers used to host a large amount of data and programs available to a wide group of users.
  • Minicomputers : Mid-range servers or computers that host data and programs available to a small group of users on a network.
  • Microcomputers : Personal computers or conventional desktop, laptop, notebook, tablet and handheld computers.

READ ALSO : Classification Of Computers By Type

Special Purpose Computers

Special purpose or dedicated computers are those designed to perform specific tasks. Such a computer can be used to carry out only a specific type of function or task.

The following are special purpose computers.

  • Embedded computers: these are tiny computers embedded or fixed into products to enable the product perform specific functions or tasks. Because they are designed for specific tasks, special purpose computers cannot be used as general purpose computers.
  • Robots: robots are computing devices controlled by a person or another computer and can move and react to sensory inputs. Robots are currently being used to carry out highly difficult but monotonous jobs like welding, riveting, painting, and many more.
  • Dedicated word processor: this is a computer designed to be used for only word processing functions or tasks. What makes them specific purpose computers is that only a specific word processing application can be installed on that computer.

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