Tech Throwback: A Brief History Of Personal Computers (PCs) And Technology Advancements
Long before the personal computer (PC) became available, people had already begun using computers. See the history of making personal computers and its huge impact on technology advancements.
As early as 1946, there were already computers that a single person could operate. But the main problem was that this person had to be a highly-trained technician. It is safe to say that in those early days of computing, people did not have to worry about UI and UX.
Inevitably, the race for more compact computers led to advancements in semiconductor technology. Silicon integrated circuit (IC) became the goal after the Fairchild Semiconductor was revealed in 1959 by Robert Noyce.
It was not until 1968 that people began to understand what other features a computer could have. The ‘Mother of All Demos’, a demonstration by SRI researcher Douglas Engelbart shed light on this. It showed such features as e-mail, hypertext, word processing, video conferencing and even a mouse.
Not long after, some personal computers or PCs started to infiltrate the market. They were called microcomputers at the time and were sold as electronic kits, which technicians and hobbyists used to build their own devices.
The Intel 8008 made most of the difference in 1972 and it was used in the Micral N; the earliest commercial non-kit microcomputer or PC. The next year, IBM built a PC prototype called Special Computer APL Machine Portable. IBM’s computer would run on the company’s PALM processor.
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Xerox made its Alto PC in the same year, 1973, and it brought graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI became a trademark for PCs and Apple’s Macintosh, Microsoft’s Windows, and others drew inspiration from it.
Hewlett Packard (HP) also made a PC in 1973 that could fit on top of a desk. HP’s 1973 personal computer included a keyboard, a small one-line display and a printer.
In 1974, MITS made what many consider the first true PC, the Altair 8800. It ran on Intel 8008 and used Microsoft’s programming language, Altair BASIC. Two years later, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started selling Apple I computer circuit board. While the device still appeared to be a kit, it was only missing such parts as power supply, case and keyboard.
The personal computer evolution was complete in 1977 when Apple II, the Commodore PET and TRS-80 Model I entered the market. These three devices were readily assembled computers and a wider range of people could use them. (The three computers are pictured at the top of the article)
By 1980, many households, who could afford it, had personal computers that featured personal productivity capabilities, programing tools and even games. The 1980s saw many tech companies start selling PCs, some of these companies include; IBM, Commodore, Apple, Tesla, and so on.
When the World Wide Web was introduced in 1991, marrying improved PCs and the internet led to what we now see as modern life.
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