The Desktop Pc

By: James Walsh

Through the 1980s sales boomed and people became extremely excited about this new revolutionary technology. However, the Desktop computer really came into its own in the mid-1990s, with Internet boom. Since then there has been no looking back as the world embraced this multifunctional machine.

A Short History

Many corporations sensed that Information Technology was going to revolutionise how we work, how we think and how we live. There were many early players in the Desktop PC market. Hewlett Packard introduced a high-end programmable calculator which included a keyboard, a basic Operating System, a display unit and a cassette drive. At the same time, similar products were introduced by IBM, Wang and Tektronix. These basic models soon evolved into business computers.

The year 1975 saw the first pre-assembled desktop computer to become available in the market. This was the MITS Altair 8800, which because of its less than professional appeal didn't quite take off. It was in 1977 that three breakthrough models, the Apple II, the Commodore PET and the Tandy TRS-80, made an impact.

The Modern Desktop Computer

Today, we take the Desktop Computer for granted. It is part of nearly every aspect of our life and defines how we live. This wonder machine is comprised of a Display Unit, Motherboard, Central Processing Unit (CPU), RAM (Primary Storage), Expansion Cards, Power Supply, Optical Disk Drive, Hard Disk Drive (Secondary Storage), Keyboard and Mouse.

The Desktop PC can be defined as a general purpose tool whose functioning revolves around a microprocessor. The different parts work in tandem to give us a multi-functional machine which we can use to type documents, store data, browse the Internet, communicate via e-mail, play games etc.

How It Works

The brain of the computer is the central processing unit. The functioning of the computer is overseen and monitored by this CPU. Storage of data is an integral part of a computer. It is essential that this memory is fast and efficient. A computer is comprised of several specific types of memory.

The Random Access Memory, commonly known as RAM, is the primary storage medium. It is used to temporarily store current information. Read Only Memory or ROM holds information permanently and consists of data that has been completed and not being worked on currently. Further, there are the Basic input/output system or BIOS, and Caching and Virtual Memory which are available on the hard disk. Desktop computers commonly contain one or more hard disk drives. All these memory devices, work together, to help us use the computer for various uses.

The Hard Disk plays a central role in a desktop computer and is the main storage medium. If the hard disk functions smoothly, it usually translates into the smooth running of the desktop computer. It is, however, a finely put together device and the slightest error or scratch can result in a head crash. This means we could lose the data stored on the hard drive. These hard drives typically have a shelf life of 3 years after which it is advisable to change it.

Transferring Data

Data stored on one desktop computer is usually transferred to another computer by using an external storage device. If a computer is connected along with other computers to a mainframe, then one can share information by storing data on the main server. Data can also be shared from one computer to another via the Internet.

There are several external storage devices available that complement the data stored on the hard drive. They act as backup storage devices and unlike the hard drive are portable in nature.

Safety Issues

The data stored on a desktop computer is as susceptible to data loss, as any other computer. Data loss can happen due to a variety of reasons like hard disk crash, virus attacks, natural disasters and data theft. Backing up data on external devices is imperative as a solution to data loss. The best way to counter data theft from a desktop is to have encrypted passwords.


While laptops are becoming increasingly popular, they have yet to take the place of the ubiquitous Desktop PC. So popular is the desktop computer that it is almost considered a necessity in the modern world. It is a one-stop point for work, information and entertainment and is, indeed, a thing of wonder.

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