Devices, Or What ?

Is a computer a device or not ? Can the word 'device' be defined to exclude general purpose computers ?

The distinction may become more important as devices proliferate, specifically for home automation.

This is a very big subject, in a sense a whole new stratosphere of connections and complications. The basic concept is still to some extent obscure.

Clear, mobility ( Wifi ) is one of the cornerstones of whatever it is that's coming.

A contrivance or invention serving a particular purpose, especially a machine used to perform one or more relatively simple tasks

In general, a device is a machine designed for a purpose. In a general context, a computer can be considered a device ...

... When the term is used generally (as in computer devices ), it can include keyboards, mouses, display monitors ...

... With notebook and smaller computers, devices tend to be more physically integrated with the "non-device" part of the computer. ( disambiguation )

The term 'computer appliance' may be better defined than 'device', although some sort of product-specific marketing campaign seems to be driving it as well.

This article is about a hardware device with integrated software (firmware). For a software with just enough operating system (JeOS) to run on hardware or in a virtual machine, see software appliance.

A software appliance is a software application that might be combined with just enough operating system (JeOS) for it to run optimally on industry standard hardware (typically a server) or in a virtual machine. In essence the term software appliance is designating the software distribution or the firmware that is running a computer appliance ...

The term 'smart device' may also be useful.

A smart device is an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.

Several notable types of smart devices are smartphones, phablets and tablets, smartwatches, smart bands and smart key chains.

The term can also refer to a ubiquitous computing device: a device that exhibits some properties of ubiquitous computing including–although not necessarily–artificial intelligence.

Also See:

... The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned so that others can make it - coupling it closely to the maker movement ...


Things called 'microprocessor' have no operating system, basically with an initialization routine and an endless loop program, no multi-threading, multi-tasking, or multi-anything. Clearly, not a computer.

But what about the GPIO pins on the RaspberryPi, directly controlling microprocessors or even raw circuits ? Is the Pi a computer or not depending on how it is used, with a functional definition rather than structural or behavioral ?

A system on a chip or system on chip (SoC or SOC) is an integrated circuit (IC) that integrates all components of a computer or other electronic system into a single chip. It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio-frequency functions—all on a single chip substrate. SoCs? are very common in the mobile electronics market because of their low power consumption


See Devices/Arduino.

Mo' Gizmos


Notes Nov 2017: Good idea but .. see RaspberryPi/ZeroW.

The 'pyboard' is a small 'Python OS' in the tradition of the Arduino, plus ( apparently ) a lot a asynch/multi-whatsit processing stuff lacking in the Arduino C/C++ controller. Never used it but interested.

The pyboard is a compact and powerful electronics development board that runs MicroPython?. It connects to your PC over USB, giving you a USB flash drive to save your Python scripts, and a serial Python prompt (a REPL) for instant programming. Works with Windows, Mac and Linux.

... Welcome! This is the documentation for MicroPython? v1.8, last updated 23 May 2016 ...


... MicroPython? runs on a variety of systems and each has their own specific documentation. You are currently viewing the documentation for the pyboard ...

MicroPython? is a lean and fast implementation of the Python 3 programming language that is optimised to run on a microcontroller. The MicroPython? board is a small electronic circuit board that runs MicroPython? on the bare metal, and gives you a low-level Python operating system that can be used to control all kinds of electronic projects.

See Linux#MicroPython

Business Angle


... Within the maker movement and DIY culture, small scale production by consumers often using peer to peer resources is being referred to as distributed manufacturing. Consumers download digital designs from an open design repository website like Youmagine or Thingiverse and produce a product at home for low costs with an open-source 3-D printer such as the RepRap.

Distributed manufacturing with distributed generation using solar photovoltaic cells and 3-D printers has been proposed as a means for off-grid rural area residents to manufacture themselves out of poverty. Recent advances in solar-powered 3-D printers have made manufacturing of a wide range of products possible in isolated communities ...

Commons-based peer production is a term coined by Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler. It describes a new model of socioeconomic production in which large numbers of people work cooperatively (usually over the Internet). Commons-based projects generally have less rigid hierarchical structures than those under more traditional business models.

Often—but not always—commons-based projects are designed without a need for financial compensation for contributors.

Hmm ... that doesn't sound good. :-)

Also See


RaspberryPi#RPiZeroW - a new addition to the Raspberry Pi family




Last modified 4 weeks ago Last modified on 11/11/2017 09:58:14 AM