The word "minicomputer" (colloquially, "mini") is a term for a class of smaller computers that evolved in the mid-1960s and sold for much less than mainframe and mid-size computers from IBM and its direct competitors. In a 1970 survey, the New York Times suggested a consensus definition of a minicomputer as a machine costing less than ,000, with an input-output device such as a teleprinter and at least 4K words of memory, that is capable of running programs in a higher level language, such as Fortran or Basic. The class formed a distinct group with its own hardware architectures and operating systems.
When single-chip CPUs appeared, beginning with the Intel 4004 in 1971, the term "minicomputer" came to mean a machine that lies in the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the smallest mainframe computers and the microcomputers. The term "minicomputer" is little used today; the contemporary term for this class of system is "midrange computer", such as the higher-end SPARC, POWER and Itanium-based systems from Oracle, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.