A multimedia computer is a computer that is optimized for high multimedia performance, enabling rich multimedia experience.
Early home computers simply lacked the power and storage necessary for true multimedia. The games for these systems, along with the demo scene were able to achieve high sophistication and technical polish using only simple, blocky graphics and digitally-generated sound. The Amiga 1000 from Commodore International has been called the first multimedia computer. Its groundbreaking animation, graphics and sound technologies enabled multimedia content to flourish. Famous demos such as the Boing Ball and Juggler showed off the Amiga's abilities. Later the Atari ST series and Apple Macintosh II extended the concept; the Atari integrated a MIDI port and was the first computer under $1000USD to have 1 megabyte of RAM which is a realistic minimum for multimedia content and the Macintosh was the first computer able to display true photorealistic graphics as well as integrating a CD-ROM drive, whose high capacity was essential for delivering multimedia content in the pre-Internet era.
Multimedia capabilities were not common on IBM PC compatibles until the advent of Windows 3.0 and the MPC standards in the early 1990s. The original PCs were devised as "serious" business machines and colorful graphics and powerful sound abilities weren't a priority. The few games available suffered from slow video hardware, PC speaker sound and limited color palette when compared to its contemporaries. But as PCs penetrated the home market in the late 1980s, a thriving industry arose to equip PCs to take advantage of the latest sound, graphics and animation technologies. Creative's SoundBlaster series of sound cards, as well as video cards from ATi, nVidia and Matrox soon became standard equipment for most PCs sold.
Most PCs today have good multimedia features. They have dual- or single-core CPUs clocked at 3.0 GHz or faster, at least 1GB of RAM, a 128 MB or higher video card and TV Tuner card. Popular graphics cards include Nvidia Gforce or ATI Radeon. The Intel Viiv platform, and Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition are some of today's products aimed at multimedia computing.
More recently, high-performance devices have become more compact, and multimedia computer capabilities are found in mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and Nokia Nseries, featuring DVD-like video quality, megapixel class cameras, fully capable browser, music and video players, podcasting, blogging, as well as e-mail, instant messaging, presence and internet call (VoIP) functionality. Multiradios help to offer broadband wireless connectivity, including for instance WCDMA/HSDPA and WLAN/Wifi. Devices are also increasingly equipped with GPS receivers and maps applications, providing new capabilities for location-aware services. The Nseries devices are also expandable, allowing for the addition of multiple applications and multimedia content.