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What Exactly Is A Personal Computer?

Apple are claiming that their new G5 is "The World's First 64-bit personal computer". Can this claim stand up?

Can a 64-bit SPARC or Alpha AXP workstation be called a personal computer (note lower case*) if it is sat on someone's desk and used by one person?

(* I'm guessing that the term "Personal Computer" is specific to IBM's original 1981 PC and clones/derivatives.)

John Topley (
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Sure.  Why not?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Reminds me of the time a customer called to complain that our product ran on PCs, but didn't work on his Apple Personal Computer. He claimed that Apple coined the term Personal Computer, which is probably false, but who cares. Educating me about the history of PCs made him feel good.

It's funny that the term PC is used to refer specifically to "Wintel" PCs while Personal Computer is more vague.

Big B
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I don't know if Apple originated the term, but I wouldn't be surprised.  To the best of my recollection, when Apple came out with their PC, the common term for such machines was "microcomputer", and sometimes "home computer".

Phillip J. Eby
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The G5's power is exceeded only by it's mystery.

Zoltan !

Application Specialist
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"Sure.  Why not?"

In which case Apple's claim to be first is pretty dubious.

John Topley (
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I think the PC when used to refer to that which isn't a Macintosh is just a short version of "IBM PC."

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A Personal Computer is any computer that is inexpensive enough for the average person to buy. This has, historically, been the US$2000 to $2500 mark. Sub-$1000 computers are pretty recent (5ish years or less) and are geared at people looking for cheapie machines.

The Mac G5 is the first 64-bit computer in the $2000 to $2500 range, thus an argument that they are the first 64-bit Personal Computer can be made.

Tim Sullivan
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Oh, it's all just part of the marketing hype. I call my new system the worlds first whatever and if no one questions it then it is. And if someone does say that isn't so, I redefine whatever in my own terms and then it is.

The most egregious form of this corporate newspeak came in the mid-80s when everyone was arguing about open vs closed systems. Open as in the IBM PC hardware specification vs closed as in Apple's hardware or the IBM PS2. The term "open" became so popular that everybody and his cousin was naming their things open-whatever. There was the Vax OpenVMS operating system and Sun's OpenLook GUI which were anything but. IBM even attempted to tell the world that the PS2 was an open architecture.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I think the first definition - buy the guys that invented it, was a computer that could fit on a desk (or under a desk, or be a desk - we are talking about the 70's here). I'm not sure if price was mentioned.

I forget if it was HP or someone else, but you know, the guys that Bill Gates and Apple got the idea.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It's personal, and it's a computer, so it's a personal computer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It's a computer
--  it has my stuff on it
-- it doesn't have anyone else's stuff on it!

A great quote from the Alto project at Xerox PARC...
(one of the first personal computers):  "The nicest
thing about an Alto is that it doesn't run any faster
at night."

Jeff Hultquist
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"I'm guessing that the term 'Personal Computer' is specific to IBM's original 1981 PC and clones/derivatives."

Not to sound trite, but if that's the case, then Apple really has no business calling themselves a PC. ;)

Andrew Burton
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

So what if the Apple G5 is faster than PCs?

PC compatible computers have a lot more software available!

Also, Intel and AMD aren't standing still. They keep improving the PC CPU, and soon, PCs will be faster than Apple MacIntosh G5, or whatever it is called.

I run a dual Athlon MP with 2 GB of memory and SCSI 10000 rpm hard-drives in RAID 0 mode (and a separate, slower HDD for daily backups of my work). I think that it is fast enough for my work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"PC compatible computers have a lot more software available!"

I hardly see how that's possible since Mac's run all Mac software, all Windows software, all DOS software, and most all UNIX software.

Windows computers don't run Mac software, nor do they run Unix software.

what else?
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Macs run all DOS software? What, even some ancient game that likes to get down and dirty with the hardware? I doubt it!

John Topley (
Thursday, June 26, 2003

i think im sexy and sensual and personal computers are too

Friday, August 13, 2004

caty i think im the sexiest girl ever, even more than you and your personal computer

Friday, August 13, 2004

its not ture mother fucker

Friday, August 13, 2004

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