Categories Of Computers

There are various types of computers and used in the world today. You may already be accustomed to desktop computers and laptops, and this goes without saying – even your mobile devices.

Here, we take a more formal approach by creating an exhaustive list of categories based on the purpose of the computers in each category. The list includes:

  • supercomputers
  • mainframe computers
  • mini computers
  • Micro computers
    • desktop pc
    • laptop computer
    • tablet computer
    • mobile devices

  • embedded systems


Trinity (supercomputer)
(Los Alamos National Laboratory, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Supercomputers are the fastest, most expensive computers in the world. They are specialized computers that are used mainly for scientific research and simulations

They are much faster than the regular general purpose computers (example: desktop PC) that we use every day, approximately 100 million times faster.

They are capable of storing a vast amount of data for processing.

They are very large, and can occupy the space of an entire floor in a  large building. Because of the high amounts of processing and the size of the supercomputer they consume a lot of electrical power which adds to the expense of running a supercomputer.

It should come as no surprise that’s super computers are very expensive. There aren’t a lot of supercomputers in the world for this reason, and scientists share their time with each other when using a supercomputer.

Supercomputers are used for various complex applications, most of them beyond on the scope of our study but one relatable  example would be in the simulation of weather systems for weather forecasting.

Mainframe Computers

<a title=”Erik Pitti from San Diego, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons” href=””>IBM System 360 Mainframe (2371701458)
(Erik Pitti from San Diego, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Mainframe computers were built to be used by many people and an organization at the same time. It is a very large computer system and can fill up an entire room.

Multiple users connect to the mainframe computer via multiple terminals which consist of at least a monitor and keyboard.  Many other peripheral devices are also connected to the mainframe computer example printers, scanners external disk drives etc.

Although mainframe computers are very fast and can store a lot of data, they are much less expensive than a supercomputer.

Mainframe computers are used by medium size to large businesses for example, banks and insurance companies.

Mini Computer

K-202 minicomputer
(K-202 minicomputer, Olaf, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Mini computers can be thought of as a smaller version of a mainframe computer intended to be more accessible and affordable to smaller businesses.

 Computers  Server

<a title=”Cskiran, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons” href=””&gt;Multiple Server
Multiple Servers in a server rack (Cskiran, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Computer servers do exactly what their names imply.  They provide services across a computer network to other computers known as clients computers. Client computers can be any class of micro computer ( desktop PC’s, laptop computers, tablet computers and mobile devices ) or even another Server itself.

The most common example would be a print server on a network or a website server on the Internet.

In the case of a print server in an office, workers can access the printer across the computer network to print various documents.  This reduces the need for multiple printers.

In the case of the web server on the Internet, web pages are served to different users who use web browsers on their computers to access the server via a web address.

Micro computers

<a title=”John crane 59, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons” href=””&gt;Microcomputer Collection
A collection of 70's era microcomputers: SWTPC 6800, Altair 8800 (running a Dazzler program), an Altair 8800B, and an AC-30 Cassette tape interface. (John crane 59, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

These computers fall into the category of average everyday personal use. they are not intended to be used by many people, only a single user at a time.

They include desktop PC’s, laptop computers, tablet computers and mobile devices.

Their  processing power is generally lower than a mainframe or mini computer but powerful enough to suit their needs of the user.

They are affordable enough to have widespread use across the entire world today.

Embedded computers

<a title=”Binary Koala from Berlin / Saint-Petersburg, TCP/IP, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons” href=”,_2015-03-19_(by_Binary_Koala).jpg”>Network enabled embedded computer board - London Science Museum, 2015-03-19 (by Binary Koala)
Network enabled embedded computer board - London Science Museum, 2015-03-19  (Binary Koala from Berlin / Saint-Petersburg, TCP/IP, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

These are small specialized computer systems that are integrated into mechanical and or electrical machines.

For example, the microwave oven in your kitchen contains an embedded computer system which is able to be controlled via the keypad. the system is responsible for starting and stopping the operation of the microwave oven as well as controlling the power delivered to the microwave oven via the use of temperature sensors.

Embedded computers can be found in many household appliances and vehicles.

© 2021  Vedesh Kungebeharry. All rights reserved. 

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