A Brief History
The very first mainframe was recorded to have been invented around the 1950’s. It was nothing like the mainframes of today, but it was the basis of every mainframe that has evolved since. The Univac 1 was delivered to the Census Bureau in 1952. The UNIX operating system was developed in the 1970’s and changed mainframes forever.
Personal computers, also known as PC’s, evolved from mainframes. Initially, dumb terminals were attached to mainframes in order to access the information needed. Eventually, personal computers evolved so that the same information that could be accessed from the mainframe was accessible on a much smaller scale.Similarities
There are many similarities between mainframes and personal computers which stands to reason since one evolved from the other. Both mainframes and personal computers have one or more central processor units, memory, one or more busses, and one or more I/O systems. Another similarity between the two is that they are both IBM-based systems and similar hardware is used to build them. They can also perform the same calculations and actions.Differences
Though mainframes and personal computers have some similarities, they have many more differences. Mainframes can cost into the millions to purchase, but are cheaper to operate than large farms of networked PC’s. Mainframes have up to three times more bus speed, ten times more cache speed, and rarely experience the same kind of down time as personal computers. Up to half of a main frames hardware is used for error detection and error correction. The mainframes of today are generally considered to be servers which is rare in personal computers because they are not as sophisticated as mainframes.
Personal computers generally have only one central processor unit, memory drive, bus, and I/O system while mainframes can have several or even thousands. PC’s generally cannot run older software. While mainframes are used to connect multiple users (sometimes thousands) PC’s are used for single users. Speed and size are some of the most drastic differences. Mainframes can be large enough o fill an entire room and PC’s can be small enough to fit into a purse.Conclusion
Mainframes and PC’s have evolved into machines that are powerful enough to practically run entire countries. They have some similarities and many differences that make them desirable for use by companies and individuals. Speed, size, and costs are usually the first things that are evaluated before either one of these products are purchased. But purchased, they are, and they will continue to each hold their own in this world of technological advances.
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