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Classification of Computer

The way computers process the information can be broadly classified into three categories.
Classification of Computer

1.   Analog Computers
        In analog computers, continuous quantities are used. Computations are carried out with physical quantities such as voltage, length, current, temperature etc. For ex: Voltmeter, ammeter, thermometer. These computers operate by measuring rather than counting. All calculations are parallel and faster.
2.   Digital Computers
          The digital computers work upon discontinuous data. They convert the data into digit (binary digit 0 and 1) and all operations carried out at fast rates. Computers used for business and scientific applications are digital computers. They can be further classified into 2 ways
  1. Purpose wise
  2. Size and performance wise
      i.          Purpose wise Computers
           Purpose wise digital computers are classified into two types:
·       Special Purpose Computers
o   These computers were designed to perform a specific task. The instructions carried out the tasks are permanently stored in the machine. For the specific tasks, this type of computer works efficiently but such computers are not versatile.
o   Ex: Blood pressure monitoring system
·       General purpose Computers
o   This type of computers can work on different types of programs input to it and thus be used in countless applications. The programs are not permanently stored but are input at the time of execution. These computers are versatile.
    ii.          Size and performance wise
            Size and performance wise computers can be classified into 4 types:
a)    Microcomputers
These computers are also known as PC’s. PC’s are single processor systems which can perform simple task such as word processing, spreadsheet calculations or graphics rendering. The first PC was built by IBM.
b)    Minicomputers
This type of computers usually designed for real time dedicated applications or as high performance, multiple user applications. Today’s minicomputers are the multiprocessor systems running on UNIX operating system.
Ex: Digital Alpha, IBM RS/6000, Sun Ultra.
c)     Mainframes
Applications which require high performance or generate and process large number of transaction are generally use mainframes. These computers generally used by banks to process ATM, check and electronic transactions.
Ex: S/390
d)    Supercomputers
These computers are designed for ultra high performance tasks such as weather analysis, encryption cracking and creation of animation. Supercomputers are large in size and more expensive.  These computers are owned by govt. agencies and large corporations. National Security Agency(NSA) houses use this computers for code breaking and intelligence gathering.
Ex: IBM’s Deep Blue.
e)     Workstation
The term workstation has two meanings.
1.     It can simply refer to an ordinary personal computer that is connected to a network.
2.     It is a powerful desktop computers used for high performance tasks, such aas medical imaging and computer Aides Design, that require a lot of processing speed.
3.     Some workstation contains more than one microprocessor.
4.     Cost of a workstation is more than an average personal computer.

3.   Hybrid Computers

Hybrid computers utilize the best qualities of both the digital and analog computers. Some calculation take place in analog manner and rest of them take place in digital manner. These computers are generally used in hospitals to measure patients heart beat, blood pressure, temperature and other vital signals. Hybrid computers are also used in weather forecasting. 

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