Applications for Microprocessors
Applications for microprocessors and microcomputers are likely to fall into two main categories, the first of which is simply as a small general-purpose computer. It has already been indicated that microcomputers perform in most respects as well as some minicomputers. Many small offices, traders, engineers, engineering designers, students and others have the need for occasional access to computing facilities. At present this need is being met by batch processing on a mainframe computer within the company or at a bureau, by remote terminals or by minicomputers. Microprocessors could offer a cheaper alternative in many cases. The operative word here is ‘could’ because it must be remembered that the cost of the electronic heart of a computer (the CPU, the immediate access memory and the immediate control circuitry) is not the whole cost of a computer system. In fact whereas this used to be about the most expensive single item in a computer system it is now one of the cheapest. A TTY, a VDU or a mini-floppy disc drive each costs more than a CPU with 4 kilobytes of immediate access memory. To some extent this is inevitable. While the cost of electronics has been plummetting, the cost of mechanical engineering equipment has been rising steadily.
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