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A From mainframes to wearable computers

A mainframe is the most powerful type of computer. It can process and store large amounts of data. It supports multiple users at the same time and can support more simultaneous processes than a PC. The central system is a large server connected to hundreds of terminals over a network. Mainframes are used for large-scale computing purposes in banks, big companies and universities.


A desktop PC has its own processing unit (or CPU), monitor and keyboard. It is used as a personal computer in the home or as a workstation for group work. Typical examples are the IBM PC and the Apple Machintosh. It’s designed to be placed on your desk. Some models have a vertical case called a tower.


A laptop (also called a notebook PC) is a lightweight computer that you can transport easily. It can work as fast as a desktop PC, with similar processors, memory capacity, and disk drives, but it is portable and has a similar screen. Modern notebooks have a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen that produces very sharp images.


Instead of a mouse, they have a touchpad build into the keyboard – a sensitive pad that you can touch to move the pointer on the screen.


They offer a lot of connectivity options: USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports for connecting peripherals, slots for memory cards, etc.


They come with battery packs, which let you use the computer when there are no electrical outlets available.


A tablet PC looks like a book, with an LCD screen on which you can write using a special digital pen. You can fold and rotate the screen 180 degrees. Your handwriting can be recognized and converted into editable text. You can also type at the detached keyboard or use voice recognition. It’s mobile and versatile.


A personal digital assistant or PDA is a tiny computer which can be held in one hand. the term PDA refers to a wide variety of hand-held devices, palmtops and pocket PCs.


For input, you type at a small keyboard or use a stylus – a special pen used with a touch screen to select items, draw pictures, etc. some models incorporate handwriting recognition, which enables a PDA to recognize characters written by hand. Some PDAs recognize spoken words by using voice recognition software.


They can be used as mobile phones or as personal organizers for storing notes, reminders and addresses. They also let you access the Internet via wireless technology, without cables.


A wearable computer runs on batteries and is worn on the user’s body, e.g. on a belt, backpack or vest; it is designed for mobile or hands-free operation. Some devices are equipped with a wireless modem, a small keyboard and a screen; others are voice-activated and can access email or voice mail.



4.1 Look at A opposite. Which type of computer do these descriptions refer to?


1. a hand-held computer which can be used as a telephone, a web explorer and a personal


2. a typical computer found in many businesses and popular for home use

3. a large computer used for intensive data processing and often linked to many terminals

4. a small computer that fits into items of clothing

5. a portable computer that can be closed up like a briefcase, but it can be as powerful as a

desktop PC

6. a full-function Pc, though it only weighs 1.2 kg – you can go to a meeting and write your

notes on it, like a paper notepad; its screen mode can be changed from portrait to



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