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Friday, December 26, 2008

How PCs Work

How PCs Work


Inside this Article
Introduction to How PCs Work
PC Parts
PC Connections
Powering Up a PC
PC Operating Systems
The Future of PCs
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HowStuffWorks 2005
PCs, like the one above, are a general purpose tool with many parts. Take a look inside your PC with computer hardware pictures.

When you mention the word "technology," most people think about computers. Virtually every facet of our lives has some computerized component. The appliances in our homes have microprocessors built into them, as do our televisions. Even our cars have computers. But the computer that everyone thinks of first is typically the personal computer, or PC.

A PC is a general-purpose tool built around a microprocessor. It has lots of different parts -- including memory, a hard disk, a modem, and more -- that work together. "General purpose" means that you can do many different things with a PC. You can use it to type documents, send e-mail, browse the Internet and play games.

PCs trace their history back to the 1970s, when a man named Ed Roberts began to sell computer kits based on a microprocessor chip designed by Intel. Roberts called his computer the Altair 8800 and sold the unassembled kits for $395. Popular Electronics ran a story about the kid in its January 1975 issue, and to the surprise of just about everyone, the kits became an instant hit and the era of the personal computer began [source: The Computer History Project].

A few years later, the dynamic duo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak unleashed the Apple II computer on the world. From that point on, the personal computer really began to take off. Other manufacturers followed suit, and soon there were computers from Commodore, Atari and Texas Instruments. Not long after the debut of the Apple II, IBM got into the personal computer game.
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Today, when someone says PC, chances are they mean a machine running on the Microsoft Windows operating system with an x86-compatible microprocessor. While Apple Macintosh computers are technically personal computers, most people wouldn't call them PCs.

In this article, we will talk about PCs in the general sense and all the different parts that go into them. You'll learn about the various components and how they work together in a basic operating session. You'll also find out what the future may hold for these machines.
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