Serial computer

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A serial computer is one which uses a serial implemention, rather than the more common parallel.

For example, instead of a word-wide adder, there is only a single-bit adder, and to add two numbers, they are fed into it a bit at a time, one bit on each clock tick, starting with the least significant bit.

Serial computers were more common in the early stages of computing; they are slower, but use fewer components, an acceptable trade-off at that stage, when the technology (e.g. vacuum tubes) was more expensive and physically bulky.