Computer Taxonomy

From: Christian Fandt <>
Date: Fri May 1 08:26:56 1998

At 16:36 30-04-98 -0700, Jack Peacock <> wrote:
>> It would be tough (but valuable) to provide a truly comprehensive
>kingdom = {analogue, digital, quantum}
>Phylum = {silicon, GaAs, Germanium (?), hollow-state, mechanical}
>Class = {Mainframe, Mini, Workstation, Micro}
>Order = {Rackmount, deskside, desktop, luggable, laptop, notebook,
>You are leaving out whole categories of computers. Where do VCR and
>microwave oven controllers fit in? How do you fit in user programmable
>and non-user programmable? What about digital storage scopes, logic
>analyzers? What about lawn sprinkler timers, aren't they
> Jack Peacock

A taxonomy? Hmmm, that would be an interesting reference for future

As to that whole category of computers being left out, it could be
approaching the splitting of hairs to detail all examples of "programmable"
electronic devices.

However, some of the very simple controllers in, e.g., lawn sprinkler
timers, etc. could possibly be classified as just programmable logic
elements -not really "computers". I can imagine a simple Epson or whatever
clock chip and a small programmable array logic (PAL) chip of some low cost
type being setup with very simple I/O to act as the "programmable" control
in those types of equipment. Or, rather, an application specific
integrated circuit or ASIC could be specially designed and fabricated to
replace all of this if production quantities are in the many thousands.
Still, no microprocessor chip though.

As to the line above: >Class = {Mainframe, Mini, Workstation, Micro}, a
few should be added such as Industrial Computers which have much human
interface usually called "Man-Machine Interface or 'MMI' (types: VMEbus,
STDbus, STD32, Multibus, G64, etc.), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
which are used to run large machines and production lines and often have
fixed programs with limited or unlimited MMI (brands: Siemens,
Allen-Bradley, Giddings and Lewis, etc.) and Embedded Computers which have
little, if any, MMI (like found in automotive emission and engine control
systems, home/corporate security systems, vending machines, televisions, CD
players and other entertainment electronics, industrial machine controls
(not PLCs), etc., etc.

We are literally surrounded by this "programmable" stuff and it is growing.

-- --
Christian Fandt, Electronic/Electrical Historian
Jamestown, NY USA
Member of Antique Wireless Association
Received on Fri May 01 1998 - 08:26:56 BST

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