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Laptop, tablet and smartphoneLaptop, tablet and smartphone Computers are very useful electronic machines. They can be used for accessing the internet, flying an aircraft, designing a car, storing data, playing games and many other functions. A computer stores data such as numbers, words, sounds and pictures, and processes it under direction of the program. A computer is made up of hardware, its physical parts, and software, made up of the data and programs it stores and uses.

The flight deck of an airlinerThe flight deck of an airliner

Types of computer

Desktop computers used at home, school and work are called personal computers (PCs). Other types include mainframes, used by large companies for data processing, and supercomputers, for doing complex scientific calculations extremely quickly. Many computers do just one specific job. Examples of these dedicated computers are games machines, in-car navigation computers (satnavs), and the computers that help to fly airliners.

Personal computers became popular with the development of the first computer games in the 1980s. Along with desktop computers, PCs come as laptops, tablets and hand-held devices such as smartphones, which can also be used for email, browsing the internet, taking digital photos and video, using apps and playing music and games.

The world’s first successful program-controlled, automatic computer, named the Z3, was invented by German engineer Konrad Zuse in 1941. It was the first fully functioning electro-mechanical (but not electronic) computer.

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