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Definition: personal computer


(1) Generically, a computer that someone uses; for example, "this is my personal computer."

(2) Technically, a single user computer. A personal computer is also called a "client" and is either a desktop computer or laptop computer. Although it performs the same functions, tablets and smartphones are generally not called a personal computer, although the smartphone has become the most personal of all computers. Windows PCs, Macs and Chromebooks make up the lion's share of desktop and laptop computers, with Linux a distant fourth.

The personal computer term was very popular in the 1980s when computers were purchased for home use for the first time. The term is still used but more infrequently. For a brief history of personal computers, see personal computer timeline. See Windows, Mac computer, Linux and tablet.