Personal computers have had a place in science fiction from the earliest days of the genre. Authors wrote about automating nearly everything — opening the door to the house, ordering food, banking, and personal communication. As we know, none of this is science fiction today. Personal computers, especially in the engineering world, have become an indispensable tool.
Beyond the traditional strengths of PCs — word processing, spreadsheet data management, and graphical chart visualizations — engineering work is now becoming part of the typical PC workload. This has occurred not only because of the increasing power of the PC, but also because the same engineering software is now available on both high-performance workstations and PCs. Parametric design, computational fluid dynamics, structural analysis, image processing, vehicle dynamics, and control design now reside on PCs along with word processing.
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The question today is not, “Do I need a personal computer?” but “What do I need on my PC?” Answering this question requires understanding not only the key elements of a PC, but also the actual value for these elements. Nine of these elements are discussed below.
A PC is basically one of two types: an IBM-compatible or an Apple Macintosh. The major difference between the two is the operating system, one of the key ingredients of a computer. Although their operating systems make the two types incompatible, the components of these machines are basically identical. Even so, we will examine herein principally those known in the Wintel, or IBM-compatible, family.
Papers are Transferable to ANY Word Processor Format!