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A microcomputer is a computer that has at its heart a microprocessor central processing unit. In most modern microcomputers the processor also has a short term storage (or cache memory) and input/output control circuits on the same integrated circuit (or chip).

The world's first commercial microprocessor was the Intel 4004, released on November 15 1971. The 4004 processed 4 binary digits (bits) of data in parallel; in other words, it was a 4-bit processor.

At the turn of the century 30 years later, microcomputers in embedded systems (built into home appliances, vehicles, and all sorts of equipment) most often are 8-bit, 16-bit or 32-bit. Desktop/consumer microcomputers, like PCss, are mostly 32-bit, while some science/engineering workstations as well as database and financial transaction servers are 64-bit (with one or more CPUs).

After the launch by IBM of their IBM PC, the term Personal Computer (q.v.) became generally used for a consumer-friendly microcomputer. The second generation of microcomputers (8-bit, early 1980s) were often referred to as home computers (q.v.).

It was the launch of the VisiCalc spreadsheet (for the Apple II) that first turned the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a business tool.

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