Things are looking up in the world of personal computer shipments. A whopping 41.2 million units shipped across the globe in the first quarter, according to information from industry research firm International Data Corp. This represented a solid 16.5% increase relative to last year at this time. Expectations were for a smaller rise, in the neighborhood of 13%. Even better, this is the fourth consecutive quarter the firm has reported stellar expansion for this market.

I love this news, especially considering the recent turbulence in the sector. To me, it shows that the economy is on the right track, and that the growling ursine boogeymen shouldn't be kowtowed to just yet. Healthy personal computer sales will drive the technology sector, as they are wont to do.

So, what companies should an investor be looking at in light of this information?

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) is the easy answer, of course. This PC-making bellwether has a reputation for incredible execution of its dynamic business model. Michael Dell's namesake reportedly had over 18% of the total PC shipments to regain the No. 1 slot after duking it out with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ).

Hewlett-Packard was no slouch either, though, as it earned a 15.6% share. Although that represented a small drop in its share of the market as a whole, HP grew its own sales revenue by 15.8% in a year-over-year comparison; Dell, for its part, grew its sales by 28% compared with last year.

So, what about other investment opportunities? How about Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)? Remember, Gates and company has a nice lock on the PC operating system and software market, and is quite the cash-generating machine. And let's not forget Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). Higher PC sales means more chips will be needed, and this is a positive for the blue-chip chip maker. Even though Intel had some recent issues, it is arguable that a long-term look at the company is optimistic at the very least.

Consumers are buying, and businesses are upgrading. For computer, chip, and software company investors, let's hope this upturn continues.

David Gardner recommended Dell for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers. You can check it out for six months with a money-back guarantee.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this piece.