The Professional Computer

This article explains the differences between a home computer, a personal computer, and a professional computer.

What is a Professional Computer?

Hindsight is ever the elucidator.
Since the Second World War, there were computers. They were big, clunky, manual affairs for several decades. They cost a fortune to keep running and failed often, but often also the military budget of countries were afforded to foot the bill of those failures. No such computer was released for purchase to anyone in these decades. They belonged in institutions, and in a few companies only by the grace of hired specialists.
This is not the sign of a professional computer.

Home Computers

In the 1970s, there were many attempts on the hardware side, but on the software side - an OS was needed to complete the computer. For a professional computer then: a professional OS. There were none. (But see below.)

"Personal" Computers

The IBM PC was considered a professional computer at $5000 with 64K of RAM, while appealing to the homebrew 8-bit scene by way of mimicry. (The "They're making a garage company computer!" shocked enthusiasts - while of course still charging a premium to not lose their name!)
Meanwhile, actual garage companies needed solitary geniuses like Steve Wozniak to provide a better computer 5 years earlier - and cut costs, because they did not have the name of IBM to guarantee sales numbers.
It's perfectly true that if you have $5000 to blow on a computer instead of a car and get only hardware in return, you can own it as a person. Instead, the IBM PC was (strangely) embraced by companies, while offering nothing beyond the 1970s 8-bits, and even less than the 1970s 8-bits running CP/M.
To the bill was swiftly added bespoke hardware and software by some uninformed, gullible companies, and as swiftly put to work to continue the punch-card, text mode, matrix/daisy wheel printer type of work those companies already had solutions for since the 1970s...

Professional Computers

The Amiga is a modern, multitasking GUI OS professional computer as everyone would know them later (after the other amateurs had worked on their half-hearted efforts for over a decade.)
Use an Amiga today, and you will use it in the same way as any modern computer and OS. Such was the strength of vision of the famous 1985 computer!

Dismantling the term "personal computer"

There is no personal computer.
There is the home computer, signified by limited support for software and hardware expansion, and there's the professional computer, which has full support for software and hardware expansion to run any application.
The term "personal computer" is a misnomer.
The PC littered desks everywhere, yet it provided the same UX as the worst terminal you ever used at school in the 1970s for over a decade, and when GUI eventually came, it was no better, in fact much worse than what had been available for another decade.
I substitute for it the concept of a professional computer. A computer, workstation, or device supports the requirements specified, or it isn't one.

Are modern computers professional computers?

Modern OSes are reverting today to not support standards in hardware expansion (foremost of all: MacOS), and to not support running any application (Linux is best here, but today takes a backseat to Amiga, Archimedes, old MacOS versions, etc because elevations is silly, cheap, poor, and not 'secure'.)
Here's a contrast! The computer considered the first "personal" computer, the Altair, was (considering 1970s limitations) the first professional computer on the hardware side - it established a standard bus. On the software expansion side, it was not. To run anything, you had to type it in. To load any program, you had to type in the 'driver'. It had no OS, not even disk commands, and so did not establish a platform for software expansion. 10 years later, this dream would become reality with the Amiga.
Before the Amiga, there were OSes that were not bespoke or proprietary: just take CP/M. Instead, it ran on pretty much every CPU on the market, had disk commands, and provided support for hardware expansion.
Even IBM 'had a go' with OS/2. It certainly was more professional than Windows (just like GeoWorks and NeXT).

The Amiga

But the Amiga had it all on release day. It is a professional computer with a professional OS (perhaps moreso than the one in your device reading this!)
You cannot expand your device in any way it can't; you cannot run any application; it supports only the software standards deemed fit by its monopoly authors, and as soon as those fall out of favor with them, you have no freedom.
Today, therefore, the freest platform is Amiga, and all other computers that has an OS that supports hardware and software expansion; they alone will support anything you gather support for.

Gathering support

That's the trick, isn't it? ;) For CP/M, Amiga, GeoWorks, OS/2, NeXT.
Only if you are cynical enough to succumb to breaking international law and build your business practices upon illegal monopolies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple can you skip class, cheat and do without that support.
With hindsight, they have grown - in some part, this on you and me, from available options - to leave a deplorable legacy, and one which limits your freedoms.
Linux and Mozilla are doing all right. Until they don't, perhaps?
And then - where are we? Where are you?

The right to use a computer

There is a tale to tell here. In the 1970s, there was a great movement to refuse the computer processing of personal details.
Today, this is reduced to you dismissing an annoying popup, which instantly grants all rights to the not-free service you want to use, to process those all they want.

If you are cynical, you would think: it is what it is. And that is also what people much more cynical than you are hoping you would think. It is what they are banking on - literally. (As in, they would be laughing at you, all the way to the bank - if they had the least thought of what you agreed to with your click. They don't know you. They know numbers.)
But this idea from the 1970s speaks to me. :)
It seems to me that today, a similar movement could arise that could grant computer buyers the right to use the computer as they want, and force away limits in supporting every hardware and software expansion they want.


Home computers are limited by their hardware and software expansion by their hardware and software design. By providing support, users can expand it so much.
Personal computers are a misnomer. They are used for everything and nothing, their limits will vary by the whim of cynical persons within illegal monopoly corporations. There is no telling what you can do on a computer influenced by such from one day to another; instead of expanding, you're already working hardware and software investment might simply stop working with no reply. Users can provide no support to expand hardware or software.
Professional computers are not limited by their hardware and software expansion by their hardware and software design. Ideally, and with enough support, such a computer could allow users to add any expansion and run any software.
Or even view any webpage, such as this one. This is not a given, in 2023.
Browsers are limited on Amiga only by lack of support for hardware and software expansion.
On your computer or device, they are artificially limited by it being unprofessional.


Xerox PARC
S-100 Bus
Creative Computing Magazine
Steve Wozniak
Tim Berners-Lee