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. (December 2017)
An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era personal computer of the desktop style, which includes a metal case with the computing components, a display monitor and a keyboard (mouse not shown).
A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose
computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. PCs are intended to be operated directly by an
end user, rather than by a computer expert or technician. Computer
time-sharing models that were typically used with larger, more expensive
mainframe systems, to enable them be used by many people at the same time, are not used with PCs.
Early computer owners in the 1960s, invariably institutional or corporate, had to write their own programs to do any useful work with the machines. In the 2010s, personal computer users have access to a wide range of
commercial software, free software ("
free and open-source software, which are provided in ready-to-run form. Software for personal computers is typically developed and distributed independently from the hardware or OS manufacturers.
 Many personal computer users no longer need to write their own programs to make any use of a personal computer, although end-user programming is still feasible. This contrasts with mobile systems, where software is often only available through a manufacturer-supported channel, and end-user program development may be discouraged by lack of support by the manufacturer.
Since the early 1990s,
Microsoft operating systems and
Intel hardware have
dominated much of the personal computer market, first with
MS-DOS and then with
Windows. Alternatives to Microsoft's Windows operating systems occupy a minority share of the industry. These include
Unix-like operating systems such as
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) provides the main alternative to Intel's