A personal computer (PC) is an inexpensive microcomputer originally designed to be used by only one person at a time.
The earliest known use of the term was in New Scientist magazine in 1964, in a series of articles called "The World in 1984". In "The Banishment of Paper Work," Arthur L. Samuel of IBM's Watson Research Center writes, "While it will be entirely feasible to obtain an education at home, via one's own personal computer, human nature will not have changed."
The first personal computers that appeared in the 1970s (see Home Computers) were markedly less versatile and powerful than business computers of the day. Nevertheless, the low cost of personal computers led to great popularity in the home and business markets during the 1980s. During the 1990s, the power of personal computers increased radically, blurring the formerly sharp distinction between personal computers and multi-user computers such as mainframes. Today higher-end computers often distinguish themselves from personal computers by greater reliability or greater ability to multitask, rather than by straight CPU power.
Most modern personal computers use the IBM PC compatible hardware architecture, using x86-compatible processors made by Intel, AMD, or Cyrix. There are many manufacturers of IBM-PC-compatible computers. The leading alternative is Apple Computer's proprietary Power Macintosh platform based on the PowerPC architecture.
With regard to portability we can distinguish: