Until the middle of the 1980s, consumers had one choice for a PC — and it was the desktop format. These knee-knocking boxes (called "towers") were big enough to gouge your shins. Equipped with large CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors, they crowded your home workspace or the office. The expectation with desktop systems were that you would set the computer up in a permanent location. Most desktops offer more power, storage and versatility for less cost than their portable brethren, which was what made them the go-to computer in the 1990s, when laptops were still thousands of dollars [source: Britannica].
These days, desktops are much, much cheaper than they were 20 years, and you can have one for just a few hundred dollars. That's a far cry from the thousands of dollars they cost in the '80s. In fact, one of Hewlett-Packard's first business PCs, the 300, cost $95,000 in 1972 [source: Comen].
As smartphones and laptops continue their domination of the world, and their prices have put them in reach of most consumers, desktops are going the way of the dinosaur. In 2017, worldwide desktop sales dropped below 100 million, far fewer than the 161.6 million laptops that flew off shelves that same year [source: Moore-Colyer].
But don't cry for the desktop. This PC format is giving way to products that are just as powerful, with the tremendous added benefit of portability. And hardcore gamers still value desktops.