Classification of Computer

Subject: Computer Basics

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Computer System can be broadly classified into four groups, namely: Mainframe Computer, Minicomputer, Microcomputer and Supercomputer. This note provides an information about classification of computers.
Classification of Computer

On the basis of size:

Mainframe computer:

  • The size is up to 10,000 sq. feet
  • This computer supported above 100 users at a time and each user could use different application.
  • Because of single machine use by multiple user information could be shared among the users confidently.
  • Because of central executing station, any problem caused by one user disturbs all the users.
  • There was single central administration to control the whole system.
  • They had massive data storage facility.
  • They were used by government agency, banking, insurance, university, etc.


  • They had up to 50 terminals.
  • The first minicomputer occupied 10 sq. feet area.
  • There was a single control administration like main frame.
  • They were used by mid range organization, business personals.
  • They had relatively high processing power suitable for mid range organization.

Micro Computer:

  • The micro computer is called personal computer as it has only one terminal.
  • Smallest in size, can be kept on top of our palm, lap or desk; size is decreasing day by day.
  • Their power consumption is very low in caparison to other types of computer.
  • Due to their low cost they can be used at home, small business, colleges, general stores, etc.
  • These computer supports multitasking, multimedia and networking.

Super computer:

  • Super computer is the most expensive and the fastest computer.
  • This computer can process complex mathematical equation in a few hours.
  • They are used for highly calculation intensive task such as weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling, animated graphics, fluid dynamics, petroleum exploration, physical simulation other scientific and engineering research.
  • Their memory hierarchy is very carefully designed to insure the processer is kept fed with data and instruction at all time.
  • Their input output system is designed to support high band width.

Computer on the basis of data

Analog Computer:

Analog devices perform operates on data that are represented within the device by continuous variables having a physical resemblance to quantities such as electrical, mechanical and hydraulic. These devices process signals like voltage or frequencies. They are widely used to work on continuous system such as operation of air craft, nuclear power plants and industrial chemical process.

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These are specific purpose computer dedicated to a single job only. Accuracy offered by Analog computer is less and output can vary even if the input is identical. It has no storage facility and output generated by analog device is difficult to interpret. E.g. Thermometer, Ammeter, Voltmeter.

Digital Computer:

It is a programmable device, that process information according to logical rules. It performs operations on binary digits. The binary information is represented in the form of electrical voltage. The discrete values such as ON, TRUE, YES are represented by binary number 1. The digital computer has tremendous impact in various fields. E.g. IBMPE, MA, Laptop.

Some important characteristics of digital computer are as follows:

  • It uses binary digits (0, 1) to represent all form of information.
  • It has huge storage capacity.
  • The output generated by digital computer is easily readable by ordinary people.
  • This computer is very accurate and output dose not vary for the same input.
  • This computer are very flexible and reprogram is possible as programmed can be stored.

Hybrid Computer:

Hybrid computer shows both the features of analog and digital computers. These computers are capable of inputting and outputting in both digital and analog signals. They are used in hospital, Jet plane, industry, etc. It consists of both analog and digital parts. E.g. Modem, Hybrid watch, etc.

Computer on the basis of brands:

IBM Computer:

IBM introduced first personal computer (PC) named IBM 5150 in 1981. IBM PCs are general purpose computers. Because of their size and cost, they became affordable and useful to the ordinary people. Software applications such as word processor, spread sheet, browsers and games were widely used because of IBM PCs.

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Computers based on Purpose

General Purpose computers

A general-purpose computer is one that, given the appropriate application and required time, should be able to perform most common computing tasks. Personal computers, including desktops, notebooks, smartphones and tablets, are all examples of general-purpose computers. ENIAC, designed and built in the 1940s, was the first general-purpose computer.

Specific Purpose Computers

A Specific-Purpose Computer is designed to be task specific and most of its job is to solve one particular problem. They are also known as dedicated computers, because they are dedicated to perfom a single task over and over again.

Things to remember
  • Computers on basis of size are mainframe, mini, micro and super computer.
  • Computers on basis of data is analog, digital ans hybrid computers
  • Computers on basis of brands are IBM, Apple, SONY etc.
  • Computers on basis of purpose are: general purpose and specific purpose.
  • IBM introduced first personal computer (PC) named IBM 5150 in 1981.
  • Hybrid computer shows both the features of analog and digital computers. 
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.
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Questions and Answers

Super computers are special purposed, powerful, most expensive and fastest computer. The application of super computers in real life situation are aircraft launching, automobile designing etc.

Mainframe computers are large sized multi-user computers with fast processing, speed and high storage capacity and support thousands of users. They are mainly used in large scale multinational companies.

Minicomputers Microcomputers
a. They are more powerful than micro
a. They are less powerful minicomputers.
b. They are comparatively expensive. b. They are smaller in size.
c. They are comparatively expensive. c. They are comparatively cheaper.
d. They are not general purpose. Eg.
IBM 1401 etc.
d. They are general purpose. Eg. Laptop,
PDAs etc.

The broad classifications of computer on the basis of work (function/activity) are:

  • Analog computer: Analog computer are special purpose computer which are designed to measure the continuous physical values such as speed, pressure, etc.
    E.g. speedometer, thermometer etc.
  • Digital computer: Digital computers are general purpose computers which work on binary digits by accepting discontinuous data. E.g. personal computer.
  • Hybrid computer: The computers which perform the task of both analog and digital computer are known as Hybrid computer. They are known as special purpose computers. E.g. ECG machine.
Analog computer Digital computer
1.They process continuous data. 1. They process discontinuous data
2.They are special purpose computers 2. They are general purpose computers.
3.They are expensive than digital
3. They are cheaper than analog computers.
4. They produce Analog signals. Eg.
Seismograph etc.
4. They produce digital signals. Eg.
Personal computer, Laptops etc.

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