What is a PC?

By: Dusty Arlia
Published on September 12, 2011
Last Updated on Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 3:43 PM
Total Updates: 4

One of the most frequently used terms to describe a computer is the acronym PC, but what does PC stand for and what does it mean?

PC stands for Personal Computer. This acronym has been used since the time computers became small enough that a single person can own and use it. By using the word "personal" makes the concept of owning a computer more reasonable. Before personal computers were around, computers were the size of rooms and took multiple people to maintain and operate. The price of these room-sized computers made it impossible for someone to own one for personal use. People who did own these room-sized computers were large organizations like large companies, government agencies, and universities.

Since the birth of the personal computer the meaning behind the term PC has changed. This term was once used to define a computer that was owned and operated by a single individual, but now is used to help define the type of operating system running on the computer. Today PC takes on the meaning of a computer with a Microsoft Windows operating system running on it.

This change in meaning started to take place when Macs, or Apple computers, started gaining popularity. Many websites and software packages would have different installation instructions for their software, one for PCs and one for Macs. This distinction between the types of computers made for a change to the meaning of the term PC, because Macs began separating themselves from that PC title. Technically Macs are PCs, hence the confusion. So the word PC has to be taken, like a lot of other computer terms, in context and it is important to realize that it is a loosely used term that can take on different meanings.

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