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During the 1980s and 1990s, personal computers became very widespread.
The use of the computer has changed people's lifestyles in several ways.
Before 1980, hardly anyone owned a computer.
Only governments and large companies had computers.
But throughout the 1980s and 1990s, computers became much cheaper,
faster, and smaller, and they held much more memory.
More and more people were able to afford to buy a computer.
By the year 2000, computers had become very common.
For many people, the personal computer is used mainly for performing calculations and for word processing.
For example, people can calculate their finances on the computer.
They can also use the computer to type their written documents, such as essays or letters.
Many people enjoy playing games on their computers.
Some people like to play chess or checkers on their computer.
Other people prefer games that require fast reflexes and fine co-ordination.
Computer games were very simple during the early days of the 1980s.
Today's computer games show detailed images and sounds.
Another very popular use of computers involves communication.
Many people keep in touch with their friends and relatives by using electronic mail, or e-mail.
E-mail allows people to send letters instantly to people far away.
It is even possible to attach pictures to one's e-mail messages.
Many people also like to use their computer to gain information on the Internet.
The Internet is a vast network of electronic pages where people can find information on many different topics.
For example, people can read newspapers and magazines on the Internet.
Personal computers have only existed for a short time.
But for many people, those computers have quickly become a very useful part of everyday life!