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What is a desktop computer?


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It is easy to forget that not everyone will know what a desktop computer is, and as a result I have written this article to explain what a desktop is.

Desktop computers – also referred to as ‘desktops’ or simply as the somewhat ambiguous ‘computers’ – are machines which are meant to be used on a desk top (obviously this is where the name desktop comes from!) or simply at a single location (unlike laptops which are designed with portability in mind).

Whilst this might sound odd considering that mobile computing (in notebooks, smart phones and tablet computers) is very common in today's society, it's important to note that – decades ago – computers used to be massive; in some cases, the size of a small room.
Hence the original invention of a personal computer which could fit onto a desk top was seen as a massive step forward in the technology World. And computing technology has thankfully continued to grow very quickly – for example, ten years ago a desktop computer would cost an average of $1,200, whilst nowadays they can be purchased for as little as $300!

Desktops tend to be made up of four main components (at a bare minimum). These are:

Case: this is the item – made mainly out of metal and plastic – which contains all the computer's hardware (electrical components which make the computer work) inside of it. This is where you plug in a keyboard, mouse, printer, speakers, USB memory sticks and other such items.

Mouse: the mouse allows the user to move the on-screen cursor and thus interact with the operating system (for example Windows 7) and other pieces of software.

Keyboard: the keyboard allows the user to input information into the computer (for example, letters, numbers and special characters). It also allows the user to use shortcuts (such as CTRL+C which copies text) which can speed up the user's interaction with the system.

Monitor: the monitor is the display device which outputs the images produced by the computer system, and allows the user to therefore interact with the system. You are (probably) viewing this article via your monitor.

These four components are the main ones that a desktop computer will usually have. However it's also very common for other peripherals to be used such as speakers (which output sounds and music generated by the system), a printer (a device which allows for documents and images on the computer to be printed onto paper), a scanner (a device which allows users to input paper documents and photographs into a computer) and more.

There are naturally many different ways which a desktop can be used. They are commonly used for word processing (for example typing up letters and documents) and also surfing websites on the internet. Although other common uses include playing computer games on the computer.

It's worth pointing out, though, that computer games tend to require a relatively large amount of computer resources and so it is common for computers designed for gaming (also referred to as gaming computers) to be relatively expensive because they contain more powerful components.

Jamie “James" Peterson is a writer for a website called Computer Lover, which has categories about , , and more.


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