What Are Minicomputers? Legacy Of Computing Machines!

I love to dig into the different breeds of computers, fetch out their different properties in a detailed manner, look into their pros and cons, and compare them with each other. While this may sound to be no big deal, It really is. Sometimes, I have to sit in front of my PC screen all day to collect specific data.

what are minicomputers
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This helps me classify the computers in an orderly manner based on their operational power, size, cost, and specific uses.

As a self-proclaimed computer guru, I take great pride in recommending computer systems to my friends and foes. From legacy computer architecture to next-generation computing machines, there is a world of computers to be explored.

Throughout my exciting trip into the world of computers, none grabbed my attention more than the Minicomputers. Funny enough but when I first came across the term ” Minicomputer ”, I thought it to be a kind of computing device that would fit into my palms. To my disappointment, It came out to be something fairly big enough to fill the space of a refrigerator.

I am filling up this page to save my audience from the same disappointment and to let them know what Minicomputers are all about. Scroll down to start the chapter on Minicomputers with a simple definition below.

What Are Minicomputers?

Resting in the ruins of the past, Minicomputers were refrigerator-sized general-purpose computers designed for automation systems. They were specially built to perform business transactions, and scientific research and to control manufacturing processes.

While Minicomputers were classified to be less powerful than Mainframe and Supercomputers, they were higher in standards than conventional general-purpose Personal Computers. Minicomputers enjoyed a special identity with their own applications and operating systems.

First brought into the consumer market in the 1960s, Minicomputers reigned as the most-used computing tool for three decades. They disappeared from the scene when the smaller but more powerful Personal Computers made their entry into the consumer market in the 1990s. Today, Minicomputers are a thing of the past and part of the legacy computing technology.

How Does A Minicomputer Work?

While Minicomputers shared a few differences with Personal Computers, their working mechanism remained more or less the same as the latter. Consisted of dual high-end Central Processing Units (CPUs), hard drives, and extensive Random Access Memory (RAM) by the ancient standards, Minicomputers used to rely on fast communication between their major hardware components.

If you bring a Minicomputer into life, it would work in the following way. In the simplest way, when the input data is transferred to the computer, the CPUs register the entry into the system and contact the RAM to access the data processing instructions. After accessing the instructions, the CPUs process the Input data, generate the output data, and store it in the memory tanks.

In comparison to the much-faster Personal Computers of today, a Minicomputer would take multiple-fold more time than the latter to perform an operation of such a magnitude.

Features Of Minicomputers

Minicomputers provided a jackpot of numerous features to users in the mid-70s and 80s. They were a cost-effective computing solution for business owners and government agencies. Below are some of the most significant features of Minicomputers.


Minicomputers were built with an intention to enhance automated multitasking to enhance business processes. Despite being designed decades ago, they were efficient at handling multi-operations simultaneously. The multi-tasking speed of Minicomputers was relatively better than their the-then rivals and counterparts which is one of the reasons they were preferably installed in automated systems.

Unique Applications And Operating Systems

There were a number of specific applications and operating systems developed for Minicomputers. These applications and operating systems were incompatible with other computing devices. They could only be run in Minicomputers that too for specific purposes. Paging Systems are one such example of special-purpose operating systems developed for Minicomputers.

Rugged External Structure

Minicomputers were gifted with a bit rugged external structure for enhanced durability. They could withstand a good amount of pressure and be comparatively harder to break than most modern PCs. Therefore, Minicomputers were often deployed in tough conditions with disregard to the environmental changes.

Peripheral Compatibility

Minicomputers could be utilized to use Cassette Tapes and Minidisks. The combo of these peripherals turned out to be one of the premium features of Minicomputers. The users could use Cassette Tapes and Minidisks in Minicomputers as means of data storage.

Uses Of Minicomputers

From the 1960s to the 1980s, multiple sectors benefitted from Minicomputers. These fast machines were actively deployed for various roles which include performing database management, controlling lab equipment, conducting scientific research, and controlling the manufacturing process for business models.

In many cases, Minicomputers were also utilized to assist the oil and gas exploration teams in the 1970s. Minicomputers played a critical role in large computing systems as a communicator between the operators and the latter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

Legacy computer technology never gets old. The more time passes, the more it gets interesting to look back and discuss the amazing computing machines. Personally, I find Minicomputers to be of huge importance in the sustainability and improvement of economies decades ago. They are sure to be remembered as one of the most productive classes of computer breeds.

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Bilal Khan
Bilal Khan

Bilal might look like a Bearded Caucasian right out of a Viking movie but trust me he's a native Pakistani. He has a long list of hobbies among which staying updated on the Latest Technology and Hardware happens to be on the top. If you are looking for detailed hardware explanations through no tricky terminologies, follow him to read Tech Content curated perfectly for the human brain.

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