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 minicomputer and 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-of-charge software ("freeware") and 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.
"PC" is an initialism for "personal computer". The IBM Personal Computer incorporated the designation in its model name, but IBM has not used this brand for many years. It is sometimes useful, especially in a marketing context, 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. This sense of the word is used in the "Get a Mac" advertisement campaign that ran between 2006 and 2009, as well as its rival, I'm a PC campaign, that appeared in 2008. Since none of these Apple products were mainframes or time-sharing systems, they were all "personal computers" and not "PC" (brand) computers