The phrase “PC computer” is a bit awkward and redundant since “PC” stands for “personal computer.” The problem is that originally the label “PC” meant not personal computers generally, but computers compatible with the IBM PC introduced in 1981. By the time IBM adopted the abbreviation for a specific model there had been many earlier personal computers like the Commodore PET and the Apple II. Now IBM doesn’t make PCs and none of today’s popular personal computers is compatible with the original PC. The label is still used to distinguish between computers running some version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system and the Macintosh computers made by Apple, even though Macs are certainly personal computers and the newer ones can also run Windows. No wonder people forget what “PC” stands for. If you want to use the abbreviation to indicate that your computer is not a Mac, “PC” alone will do, despite its literal inaccuracy.
The Week's End Extra from the Archives: "Whim and a Prayer" (April 18, 2011).