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PC (Personal Computer) is an abbreviation sometimes used to refer to a personal computer of the Intel 8086 family. Alternate names for the same family (some appropriate, some not) include:
  • Intel 8086 [based | family]
  • IBM PC [clone | based | family]
  • [dos/]Windows [based | family]
  • ??

I should say something about computer families -- some bullets, but maybe move this to a different page?:

  • In general programs written for one family will not work on a different family, but there are exceptions:
    • Java and Javascript programs can run in a browser on any computer family as long as that browser has a working interpreter for that language (built in or plugged in)
    • C, C++ and some other programs can be compiled to run on other families
    • Perl and some other programs can (sometimes) run on other families without compiling as they are interpreted (of course, their must be an interpreter on those other families, and I/O issues may have to be dealt with)
  • The PC family is generally based on Intel 8086 or compatible CPUs, but the family has gone through several generations (8086, 80186, 80286, 80386, 80486, 80586, 80686, ) and programs written for one generation of the family may not work on other generations of the family. (Generally Intel has tried to keep their hardware backward compatible so a program written on an old member of the family should work on a newer member of the family (are there exceptions at the hardware level? I think there may be around the 80286/80386 transition.) However, (Microsoft) operating systems add another factor to the family equation -- dos (various versions) Windows 3.1 / Win 95 / Win NT (especially) -- Microsoft has also tried to maintain backward compatibility (but??).

  • Families of computers are often determined by their hardware architecture or their "proprietor".

  • Some other families: IBM 360/370, Series 1, ???, PDP-1 thru 11, then VAX, ALPHA, Data General, Hewlett Packard (3000), Solaris, Silicon Graphics (???)

  • Apple 1 6502?? (or 6800?)
  • MacIntosh (Motorola 68000)
  • Power PC (PPC) (Motorola 68000)


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  • () RandyKramer - 07 Mar 2003
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r1 - 2003-03-07 - RandyKramer
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