First released in the 1960s, minicomputers got their name because of their small
size compared to other computers of the day. The capabilities of a minicomputer
are somewhere between those of mainframes and personal computers. For this
reason, minicomputers are often called midrange computers.
A computer with a microprocessor and its central processing unit is known as a
Fig. 1: Minicomputer.
Minicomputers do not occupy space as much as mainframes do. When supplemented with a
keyboard and a mouse, microcomputers can be called personal computers. A monitor, a keyboard and
other similar input-output devices, computer memory in the form of RAM and a power supply unit come
packaged in a microcomputer. These computers can fit on desks or tables and prove to be the best choice
for single-user tasks.
Like mainframes, minicomputers can
handle much more input and output
than personal computers can. Although
some ‘‘minis’’ arc designed for a single
user, the most powerful minicomputers
can serve the input and output needs of
hundreds of users at a time. Users can
access a central minicomputer through a
terminal or a standard PC.