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. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or technician. Unlike large costly minicomputer and mainframes, time-sharing by many people at the same time is not used with personal computers.
Institutional or corporate computer owners in the 1960s had to write their own programs to do any useful work with the machines. While personal computer users may develop their own applications, usually these systems run commercial software, free-of-charge software ("freeware") or free and open-source software, which is provided in ready-to-run form. Software for personal computers is typically developed and distributed independently from the hardware or operating system 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.
"PC" is an initialism for "personal computer". The IBM Personal Computer incorporated the designation in its model name. It is sometimes useful to distinguish personal computers of the "IBM Personal Computer" family from personal computers made by other manufacturers. For example, "PC" is used in contrast with "Mac", an Apple Macintosh computer. Since none of these Apple products were mainframes or time-sharing systems, they were all "personal computers" and not "PC" (brand) computers.