10 Types of Computers

Laptops have replaced desktops as the work-based computer of choice. This woman is using hers for a video conference. FS Productions/Getty Images

Once upon a time, if you wanted to use a PC, you had to use a desktop. Engineers simply couldn't condense the sophisticated systems in a PC into a portable box. In the mid-1980s, though, many big computer manufacturers made a push to popularize laptop computers.

Laptops are portable computers that integrate the display, keyboard, a pointing device or trackball, processor, memory and hard drive all in a battery-operated package slightly larger than an average hardcover book.

The first true commercial laptop, though, was a far cry from the svelte devices crowding retail shops today. The Osborne 1, released in 1981, sold for around $1,800, had 64 kb of memory — and weighed about 24 pounds (10 kilograms). As it toned your biceps, the Osborne 1 also gave your eyes a workout, as the screen was just 5 inches (12 centimeters) [source: Computing History].

Fortunately, manufacturers quickly improved upon the look and feel of laptops. Just two years later, Radio Shack's TRS-80 Model 100 packed its component into a 4-pound (8 kilogram) frame, but it lacked power. By the end of the decade, NEC's UltraLite smashed barriers by cramming real computing efficiency into the first true notebook (i.e. very light laptop) style, which weighed just 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms). The race to ultra-portability was officially on [source: Bellis]. However, laptops didn't overtake PCs in sales until 2005 [source: Arthur].

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