Social Question

Val123's avatar

Why do people refer to "Mac" and "PC" as if they aren't both PC's?

Asked by Val123 (12679points) February 19th, 2010

PC just stands for “Personal Computer,” ergo, Mac is a PC. Unless there is something I’m missing.

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31 Answers

jfos's avatar

Some of the Macs I’ve met can be very impersonal at times.

mrentropy's avatar

I agree and have wondered the same thing.
But there’s only one Apple made computer versus a billion and one IBM PC clones so it’s easier to refer to them that way.

Of course, the only real difference, now, between a Mac and a PC is the operating system.

erichw1504's avatar

That is correct, but I guess PC has become the term for any laptop/desktop that is not a MAC.

Val123's avatar

I just remember when the term PC came into being, and it was used to refer to any computer in people’s homes. I wonder how and why it morphed.

mrentropy's avatar

It had already morphed. PC was used for IBM’s line of business computers. Then Compaq and others came out with IBM PC clones so that’s how it became more generic-acized.

ucme's avatar

My Granny thinks those are a raincoat & a policeman.Bless.

DominicX's avatar

I think it has to do with the fact that Macs were not compatible with other PCs until recently. Despite technically being a personal computer, they were so different from other personal computers (and not compatible with them) that people felt the need to differentiate them. “PC” also refers to a computer running Linux; it isn’t just Windows. It’s anything but Mac.

I often use the term “Windows computer” as opposed to PC when I am referring to a computer that runs on Windows.

CMaz's avatar

I refer to the “PC” as an IBM. And Mac is Mac or apple.
When the both are together in a conversation.

richardhenry's avatar

Because Apple really kickass at marketing.

andrew's avatar

Didn’t it have to do with the branding wars in the 80’s when IBM started referring to itself as PC? (Hence @ChazMaz‘s experience)

Edit: I think it also has to do with the fact that except for those weird years of Apple clones, Apple, Inc. has been the sole manufacturer of Macintosh hardware.

mrentropy's avatar

Back in my day, we didn’t call them ‘personal computers,’ we just called them ‘computers.’ And they were all different. Atari, Commodore, Apple, Tandy, Texas Instruments, etc. If they were called anything they were called ‘micro-computers’ because they were smaller than a warehouse.

It wasn’t until IBM (late in the game) came out with PC that computers were referred to as “PC’s.” It was still before the first Macintosh came out, too.

When the clones came out people just referred to them as PC’s instead of PC-Clones. When all the other computers went bye-bye it didn’t leave anything else besides the Macintosh and IBM PC and its clones.

So, if you want to be pedantic, an Apple computer is not a PC because it’s not a clone of the IBM PC. It is, however, a personal computer.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Macs are based on a very different programming system than most other operating systems, which is the major difference. And like @DominicX said, compatibility between Mac and anything non-Mac was scant. You had to be either a “Mac” or a “PC” person, and unlike today there weren’t many people who could comfortably use both.

And also, like @richardhenry said, it’s a marketing strategy of distinguishing Macs from other types of computers. PC could mean Dell, HP, IBM, Compaq… anything. It could also mean anything running Windows. It is because Macs can’t (theoretically) run anything but Mac’s OS that they distinguish themselves from “PC’s.” They’re also trying to say they’re different in the way that they don’t have as many problems as PCs do. Which is NOT TRUE because my brand new MacBook just totally fried on me for NO REASON… but that’s another story.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@Val123: clever marketing.

@ParaParaYukiko: MacOS is actually a proprietary Unix, much like BSD and Linux (without the proprietary part).

@richardhenry: Damn! Beaten to it! That’ll teach me to read the whole thread…

phoenyx's avatar

My co-workers were having an argument today about whether or not an xbox can be considered a “PC”.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@phoenyx – I think it could be, but it just doesn’t have the operating system to support its hardware being used in that way. See here for more.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@the100thmonkey True true… but does Linux really count as a real OS? :P
(Just kidding. please don’t hurt me.)

the100thmonkey's avatar

@ParaParaYukiko: Yes! Yes, it does!

It’s as powerful an OS as any other. It’s free, though, which most people struggle with – they equate free software with second-rate software, which is categorically not the case.

The only thing it’s not particularly good at is gaming; however, there are a few decent ones out there.

mrentropy's avatar

@the100thmonkey It’s good at gaming, it’s just that very few companies make games for it.

the100thmonkey's avatar

That’s what I meant – if you want to play PC games, buy Windows, as the options for Linux are limited.

Pseudonym's avatar

Hi, I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC.

What better premise could there be for television commercials? I mean, that’s just gold!

Val123's avatar

¿¿¿¿ʇı ɹoɟ ǝʇıɹʍ ʎdoɔ ǝɥʇ ʇǝƃ ı op

Pseudonym's avatar

@Val123 oh my gosh the upside down text is taking over the world!

Val123's avatar

@Pseudonym Told you I’d figure it out! What happened to the Helen Keller Q? We were having so much fun!

noyesa's avatar

Once upon a time there was a distinction, but since its inception the term “PC” has been a marketing term. What is a personal computer or a PC is entirely questionable, since a.) there was never a clear distinction and b.) these days they’re all using the same CPU type so it’s not as if Apple computers are another species of computer. IBM had patented the PC, so I assume that plays into this somewhere.

@ParaParaYukiko There actually isn’t any such difference between the two. Since 2006, Mac OS X has been running on x86 (intel compatible) CPUs and since 2000 the Mac operating system has been based on Unix. The implementation details are not actually that important, the distinction between PC and Mac is really just Windows vs. Mac OS X. Apple has reinforced that terminology with their obnoxious marketing, but it’s probably the easiest way to make those commercials make any sense to the uninclined.

Pseudonym's avatar

@Val123 I know! It was a true Fluther masterpiece! I wanted to continue, then I got sent back to the homepage!

Val123's avatar

@Pseudonym Should be a law that if there are more than 20 responses, they aren’t allowed to Mod it! It really wasn’t such a bad question. Perhaps could have been worded slightly differently, but that’s all. I wanted to get into the idea that HK quite possibly was close to a genius, and explore the concept of how hard it would all be to actually comprehend what she finally did. Also, I think she was closer to 4 when she got sick, and had experienced speech and hearing…....

Pseudonym's avatar

@Val123repost! repost! But seriously, you’re right. It might have been a bit naïve, but it was certainly appropriate for Fluther

Val123's avatar

@Pseudonym Yeah…the way it was worded led to goofy responses right off the bat, but I think they would have settled into a deeper discussion if it had a chance….OK. I’ll see if I have any questions left!

MissA's avatar

My analogy would be:
All VWs are automobiles.
But, not all automobiles are VWs.

All Macs are personal computers.
But, not all personal computers are Macs.

Macs are a different way of thinking.
I’ve been using them since about 1980,
when they were a completely different beast.

Val123's avatar

@MissA Yes. I do understand. But the analogy in this case is like

All VW’s are automobiles
But not all automobiles are automobiles.

I’ve been working with Macs and Windows and stuff that came before that since pre-1980. My first intro to a computer was in ‘75. For long while I was a Mac fan. Then Windows took over…..so, the race is on. But, none-the-less, all home-based Mac’s ARE Personal Computers.

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