My resume needs an expression to describe experience I've had working with computers that are not part of a larger hardware system.

I thought of using 'desktops' but this is a very restricted subset of non-embedded systems.

  • 3
    How about embedded and other systems? General purpose? Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 14:31
  • Thank you for the suggestion. Are servers and build machines usually considered general purpose? Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 14:33
  • If they aren't, then they would probably be considered embedded or specific use. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 14:40
  • 1
    General-purpose is the term Wikipedia uses.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 14:46
  • independent systems ?
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 15:05

4 Answers 4


Strangely enough, I would consider experience with embedded systems something very specific to mention on a CV - experience with non-embedded systems being the default.

If somebody who does not mention experience with embedded systems, I will assume they do not have it, and all experience mentioned refers to non-embedded systems.

That said, if you feel you have to make the distinction, simply calling them non-embedded would do the trick.

It may be my interpretation, but it does feel a bit like looking for a word to describe experience with driving cars outside the Formula 1 - I would mention Formula 1 experience if I had it, but otherwise, any driving experience would be assumed not to be Formula 1 anyway.

  • 1
    I like this answer. Talking about general purpose computing is a bit like mentioning that you can drive a car with an automatic transmission. It's better to talk about the specific aspects of software engineering that you want to emphasize as being in your skill set. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 16:25

Perhaps stand-alone systems or self-contained systems?

  • Not sure this applies. Some embedded systems are more or less self-contained (something like a vending machine or hand-held game), while others are part of larger multi-processor/networked hardware systems.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 10:26

According to wikipedia,

An embedded system is a computer system with a dedicated function

Later, the term general-purpose computer is used.

  • I'd certainly go with "general purpose computer".
    – tobyink
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 16:08

The term you are looking for is Workstation.

  • "Workstations" is another category of computers, distinguished by higher-than-average performance. We want a category including, but not limited to, workstations.
    – nmclean
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 19:07

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