Microcomputers: Small but Powerful
Minicomputers, mainframes and supercomputers are computer systems. Micros also are computer systems. Each offers many input and output alternatives; that is ways to enter data to the system and to present information generated by the system. In addition, each is supported by software for a wide variety of applications. There are, of course, obvious differences in size and capabilities. Everything associated with minicomputers, mainframes, and supercomputers is larger in scope than that associated with microcomputers: Execution of programs is faster; disk storage has more capacity; printer speeds are faster.
Besides size and capability, the single most distinguishing characteristic of minicomputers, mainframe computers, and supercomputers is the manner in which each type is used. The three larger computers, with their expanded processing capabilities, provide a computing resource that can be shared by many people. For example, finance, personnel and accounting departments within a company share the resources of a mainframe possible all the same time. In contrast, most microcomputers are used by one user at a time.
Another important difference between micros and minis, mainframes and supercomputers is that, in all probability the micro will be a major tool in your chosen career. You will be the person who turns on the system, selects the software to be run, enters the data, and requests the information. In contrast, your asasociation with the larger multiuser computers will probably be via a VDT that is linked to a computer in a different building or even a different state.