Microcomputers have been on the rise ever since the 1980s, back when Apple, IBM and Microsoft were fighting for market share - not that much has changed. Microcomputers quickly grew between the 70s-90s because of MS-DOS and IBM machines that filled out office floors and homes. A lot has changed since then of course, and the word microcomputer is associated with really small computers opposed to just the standard desktop tower.
What are Microcomputers?
The best example of a microcomputer of modern times would be the Raspberry Pi. This device is unbelievably small and miraculously powerful. It is a single board computer that can do some things a normal computer can. It has the standard USB slots and can be hooked up to a screen; it can even play Minecraft if you’re technical enough to configure it to.
The term microcomputers is rarely used today however. Due to the common microprocessors that are pretty much in every modern device, the term has died out. IBM was the first company to introduce a different phrase; the “Personal Computer”. With the rise of the internet, these computers have become very popular and now the majority of households own one.
Why are they so good?
Microcomputers come with many benefits. The amount of tinkering capabilities is great. Add HDMI ports, USB ports and other connectors to create an ultimate device. It’s also great because unlike products such as games consoles and tablets, you are able to upgrade them without having to replace the entire device.
If you hook one up with a microcontroller then you have a combination to die for. Microcontrollers are the key to robots and are easy to implement into your microcomputer. There is an endless amount of robotic mechanisms you can make and the only thing that will stop you is your own creativity. The arduino starter kits from RS are the perfect place for beginners who want to make their own transformer. RS Components not only offer Arduinos, but microcomputers such as the Raspberry Pi as well, making it a great place to go if you’re looking to get started.
Microcomputers are great to learn from. Referring back to the Raspberry Pi, there is a lot of opportunity to learn coding and programming techniques. Seeing as they won’t set you back too much in terms of finance, it’s a no brainer investment if you plan to learn coding languages like C++. Coding and programming is also becoming a bigger part of primary and secondary education. The skill is global and intellectually challenging. So when Christmas time comes round, you know what to give a kid.
Microcomputers are generally energy efficient. It’s cheap to buy them and run them. The Raspberry Pi operates at around 8 watts total compared to larger computers that use 10 fold. Furthermore, these small machines don’t make much noise and produce less heat. There’s nothing worse than trying to get some work done and you have a blaring computer fan distracting you.
mage courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at freedigitalphotos.net