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The computer hardware industry provides a broad range of products. These include everyday items used in homes, businesses, and schools, such as desktop computers, monitors and keyboards: laptop computers; and peripherals like printers and scanners; as well as specialized or industrial items such as webcams, ATM machines, or data storage devices used by corporations, large and small. A rapidly growing segment of the computer hardware industry is in multipurpose handheld communication devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, which allow consumers to have phone conversations, send electronic text messages and e-mail, surf the Internet, or access media. The personal computer industry celebrated its 41st anniversary in 2016.
In its first year, 1975 as marked by the Computer Industry Almanac, the personal computer industry as it is known today sold fewer than 50,000 personal computers with a value of $60 million. By 2010, worldwide sales had grown to more than 320 million personal computers with a retail value of $320 billion. The global computer hardware manufacturing industry is now a $346 billion business, according to market research group IBISWorld. Sales of personal computers (PC) have dropped since 2012, however, as tablet and mobile phone use has grown. International Data Corporation reported that shipments of personal computers had fallen by more than 10 percent in 2015 compared to shipments in 2014. It was estimated that 276.7 million personal computers shipped in 2015, a significant drop from the 308.2 million computers that shipped the previous year.
The computer hardware industry encompasses the companies that research, develop, design, assemble, test, manufacture, and sell these various devices. Technological advances continue to produce complex microchips in smaller sizes, enabling the computer hardware industry to provide smaller, more compact devices to consumers. Flat-screen computer monitors and thinner, lighter laptops or tablet computers are but a few of the innovative new products now available or in the planning stages. Also expected to lead the growth in the industry are electronics with computing platforms such as those used in the medical and health-care industries, the telecommunications industry, and the automotive industry, as well as the growing consumer demand for and use of mobile devices like smartphones that perform various functions of computers
Although computer hardware companies can be found worldwide, including in India, Japan, and China, many companies are located in the United States. Silicon Valley in California, Route 128 in Massachusetts, Research Triangle in North Carolina, and Austin, Texas, are among areas in the United States with high concentrations of computer hardware companies.
The industry employs workers of all education and skill levels. Computer scientists and engineers; development, design, and production engineers; system analysts and set-up specialists; service technicians; quality assurance specialists; and computer sales representatives are but a few of the career choices open to those seeking work in the computer hardware field.
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