A personal computer (PC) is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator. PCs include any type of computer that is used in a "personal" manner. This is in contrast to the batch processing or time-sharing models which allowed large expensive mainframe systems to be used by many people, usually at the same time, or large data processing systems which required a full-time staff to operate efficiently.
While starting out as desktop computers; a PC now may also be a laptop, a tablet PC, or a handheld PC (also called a palmtop). The most common microprocessors in personal computers are x86-compatible CPUs. Software applications for personal computers include word processing, spreadsheets, databases, Web browsers, e-mail clients, games, and many other special-purpose software applications. Modern personal computers often have connections to the Internet, allowing access to the World Wide Web and a wide range of other resources.
The spread of the PC and generally available Internet connectivity lead to the rise of many distributed computing projects, like GIMPS. The spread of PC's and the mass production of their CPU's has also led to a trend in supercomputers, from fewer specialty processors to many interconnected common type processors.