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A microcomputer is a device designed for a single user and usually holds a single-chip processor. It’s typically called a personal computer or PC instead. The term “microcomputer” has been phased out of the mainstream vocabulary but is still used to describe small computers with limited compute power. Common microcomputers include laptops, desktops, calculators, mobile phones, notebooks, workstations, and embedded systems. Our content writers at assignmentsguru are well-versed in the different topics related to the field so they can deliver your assignments on time & within budget. Our team of experienced Microcomputers writers have years of experience in this field. We have the expertise to complete any kind of assignment right on time with minimal extra effort required.
A microcomputer uses a single integrated semiconductor chip for its central processing unit (CPU).The AIs typically contains ROM (Read-Only Memory), RAM (Random Access Memory) and I/O ports housed in a motherboard all contained within one unit.. Common I/O devices include keyboards, monitors, printers and external storage.
History of microcomputers
The term microcomputer dates back to the 1970s. The advent of the Intel 4004 microprocessor in 1971, and later the Intel 8008 and Intel 8080 microprocessor in 1972 and 1974 respectively, paved the path to the creation of the microcomputer.
The first microcomputer was the Micral, released in 1973 by Réalisation d’Études Électroniques (R2E). Based on the Intel 8008, it was the first non-kit computer based on a microprocessor. In 1974, the Intel 8008-based MCM/70 microcomputer was released by Micro Computer Machines Inc. (later known as MCM Computers).
Though released after the Micral and MCM/70, the Altair 8800 is often considered the first successful commercial microcomputer. Released in 1974, it was designed by Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems (MITS) and was based on the Intel 8080 microprocessor. It retailed for around $400 in kit form, $600 assembled ($2,045 and $3,067 in 2018 dollars, respectively).
As microprocessor chip design matured, so did the processing capacity of microcomputers. By the 1980s, microcomputers were being used for more than games and computer-based recreation, finding widespread use in personal computing, workstations and academia. By the 1990s, PDA’s (a cleverly clever name for a pocket-sized personal digital assistant) like the Apple Newton and Palm Pilot were coming out. ThesePDAs showed how technologies had begun to change and improve incredibly quickly as users sought not only greater efficiency but much more convenience.
Personal microcomputers are often used for education and entertainment. Beyond laptops and desktops, microcomputers can include video game consoles, computerized electronics and smartphones.
In the workplace, microcomputers have been used for applications including data and word processing, electronic spreadsheets, professional presentation and graphics programs, communications and database management systems. They have been used in business for tasks such as bookkeeping, inventory and communication; in medical settings to record and recall patient data, manage healthcare plans, complete schedule and for data processing; in financial institutions to record transactions, track billing, prepare financial statements and payrolls, and auditing; and in military applications for training devices, among other uses.
Microcomputers and IoT
A Raspberry Pi is a small, single-board computer. It used to have self-described as a microcontroller. Today, the Raspberry Pi is used as a single-board computer to prototype IoT devices. It’s also used in classrooms and applications too. In fact, these single-board computers are now more often described as microcontrollers rather than as proper computers.
Microcomputers can be used for similar tasks in IoT applications as microcontrollers, however. Certain IoT devices, such as smart TVs, refrigerators and other connected appliances, are sometimes referred to as microcomputers.
Where a microcomputer fits in
The ascending hierarchy of general computer sizes is as follows:
These embedded systems fulfill all criteria of microcomputers – they’re inanimate, self-contained units that don’t need people to run them directly.
Workstations are powerful personal computers that are used to provide specialized applications.
Minicomputers, now called mid-range servers;
Mainframes, which are now usually referred to by manufacturers as large servers;
Supercomputers, large servers, sometimes including systems of computers using parallel processing; and
A parallel processing system is a group of computers working together on the same process. This allows for multiple tasks to be performed concurrently.
Microcomputers vs. microcontrollers A microcontroller is an integrated circuit (IC) designed to govern a specific operation in an embedded system. These single chips have onboard RAM, ROM and peripherals.
Microcontrollers have been referred to as single microcomputers.
Microcomputers vs. microprocessors
A microprocessor is a computer processor on a microchip that contains all or most CPU functions. Microprocessors do not have RAM, ROM or other peripherals. As such, microprocessors cannot perform standalone tasks. Rather, systems such as microcomputers, which contain microprocessors, can be programmed to perform functions on data by writing specific instructions for their microprocessors into their memory.
A microcomputer can technically be described as the combination of a microprocessor and its peripheral I/O devices, circuitry and memory — just not on a single chip.
Microcomputers vs. minicomputers
While microcomputers generally refer to laptops or desktops, minicomputers were a variety of computer primarily used in the 1960s to 1980s. Minicomputers were larger than microcomputers — some stood more than 6 feet tall and weighted up to 700 pounds — and boasted higher processing speeds at a significantly smaller size and price than mainframes and supercomputers available at the time. While microcomputers were often used at home and in the office, minicomputers were primarily found in academia, research labs and small companies, and they were used for word processing, accounting and teaching aids.
Digital Equipment Corporation’s Programmed Data Processor-1, or PDP-1, was announced in 1960 and sold for $120,000 ($1,021,776 in 2018 dollars). Its descendent, the PDP-8, was introduced in 1965 and sold for nearly $18,500 ($148,022 in 2018 dollars). Considered one of the most successful minicomputers and first example of a commercial minicomputer, the 12-bit PDP-8 has been compared to the size of a small household refrigerator.
Minicomputers did not contain microprocessors. In the 1980s, the minicomputer’s prevalence declined as microprocessors became more powerful and available at lower cost.
An antiquated term, minicomputers are often referred to as midrange computers.
Microcomputers vs. mainframes
A mainframe computer is a high-performance computer used for large-scale computing purposes that require greater availability and security than small-scale machines can provide. Mainframes can process requests from a number of users simultaneously, whereas a microcomputer is designed to be used by one person at a time. As such, a mainframe computer can be described as a system that interconnects a number of microcomputers.
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