MICROCOMPUTERS  What are they and what are they used for? ▷ 2020

Have you ever used microcomputers? You know that they are? How are they different from our desktop personal computers?

To this machine, born in the 70s, in the middle of the computational revolution, We owe him a lot, because it is the basis of what we all have in our home today.

We are going to see in detail what a microcomputer is, where it was born, what its history has been up to today and how it is similar to and different from other computers.

What are Microcomputers in computing? Definition

Taking into account the definition that the concept itself can give us, a microcomputer is a computer that uses a microprocessor to act as the Central Processing Unit – which is the processor of a lifetime, well, of our young life.

Regardless of knowing what this element is, it is only necessary to attend, again, to the concept itself to know that the micro- prefix refers to something small. Although we currently use it to refer to tiny elements, the truth is that when the term “microprocessor“It was coined, conventional processors were much larger than the ones we use now, so a micro could well be like the back of the hand.

In any case, the microcomputer is computer equipment that is designed to work with a microprocessor.

This leads us, of course, to see a reduction in the rest of the elements that make up the machine and, with it, the overall size of the machine. This is also thanks to the integrated circuit, an element that had been waiting for years to be used.

the microprocessor defines the microcomputer

So, we can call our personal computer microcomputer or desktop, although it sounds strange, because, after all, it is small in size compared to the computing devices that existed when the term was introduced and, in effect, I work with what is known as a microprocessor.

However, microcomputers are not only synonymous with personal computers. The concept itself indicates very clearly that the importance lies in the use, as we say, of a microprocessor, so that those computational machines that include it are considered micro as well.

Otherwise, the device may be different in terms of structure, integration of elements and others, what matters, as we say, is that it is made to work with a micro CPU.


These teams appear when microprocessors are developed to the point of being compatible with smaller parts. This occurs, as we have mentioned, when researching to satisfy the growing demand for smaller computers that could be used in contexts different from those of the moment and that, in addition, were also less expensive, becoming accessible to a greater portion of the population.

This machine replaced minicomputers in many respects sinceIn the absence of other equipment, these were used for various purposes, although they were not the most suitable or even if the mini was too much for it, because, simply, there was no other more related product.

The first microcomputer is seen in 1972, from Japan. This was the SMP80 / 08. Two years later we find its improved version. None of them went on sale.

Meanwhile, in France it had been launched, in 1973, the Micral N, these being the first to do the patent including the term microcomputer, but in French (“micro-ordinateur”), referring to this as “first solid state machine with a microprocessor”. This was designed to be part of scientific applications and technical processes.

Alvan was another French team thought to automate some office work processes, getting much closer to current personal computers.


domestic microcomputer

The history of microcomputers is not very different from that of other computing machines and corresponds to the development, directly or indirectly, of the equipment we have just discussed.

Until 1976, which is known as first generation of microcomputers sold for engineering interface control purposes, in terminal control and industrial machinery. The leading corporations are Texas Instruments, Digital Equipment Corporation or the current Toshiba, known at the time as Sord Computer Corporation.

The second generation is given by the introduction of home computer in 1977, These machines are still smaller and its development is thought to be more easily usable by the user on foot. For this, the BASIC language and the ability to plug into these monitors or televisions.

An important milestone that made these machines a tool for business was the creation of the spreadsheet in 1979. When IBM launched the IBM PC, the concept of the personal computer began to merge with that of the microcomputer.

Highly noteworthy is also the introduction of 32-bit computing in these teams, given in the mid-80s. Its importance lies in the fact that it allowed multi-user operating systems to run, getting a little closer to the concept of minicomputer, which, remember, is more powerful.

Raspberry Pi is launched in 2012, an element that, despite being considered a “computer board” because it is, in essence, a board with computational capacityWithout anything else, it is still a microcomputer, since the truth is that it includes a microprocessor.

computer board

What are Microcomputers for and what are their uses?

The reduction of its processing capacity -at the time- made These machines were intended for home and office use as well as, in some cases, for the teaching-learning process. An essential characteristic was that, both because of their capacity and their size, they were used by a single user.

In other words, they functioned as the satisfaction of the demand of the home user who could not access, in any way – nor did it make sense to do so – to minicomputers, mainframes or other computers of greater scope still.

This means that its use was given so much to entertain with multimedia product catalogs or with games how to manage the home, for example, keeping accounts, storing information, etc.

But nevertheless, Its evolution has meant that currently, although its basic uses are the same (entertainment, teaching and household management) options have been greatly diversified, being able to enjoy activities that number in the hundreds. This is because each time more applications are available but also because the processing capacity and the speed of the processors is infinitely higher.

Thus, we can say that the same uses for which these computers were designed but have been expanded remain.

What are the differences between a Microcomputer and a Minicomputer?

As we have seen in the previous points, the differences in capacity between the two types of computers narrowed over time until they are already diffuse or non-existent, since the truth is that both terms are practically in disuse because a personal computer can carry out the functions of both computers.

However, we have to the mini (or medium server) is larger, with a very fast processing and, which especially differentiates them, that allows connection of multiple users with various teams. That is, it would be a kind of server.

The micro, meanwhile, when nobody as a concept, it was single-user, as well as smaller. Of course, at present, if it has the corresponding specifications, it can also work as a server.

This is, at the time, the minicomputer served as a restrained server and the micro was a kind of predecessor to the personal computer.

Currently, although their specifications are not entirely the same, we have a kind of growing list in which the microcomputer would be more modest in all respects, followed by the minicomputer, the workstation, the mainframe and, later, we would go to giant equipment such as macro and supercomputers. So, we have to one is one notch higher than the other, just.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and it will also be of great help to more members of the community. Thank you! 😉

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