Very few things have had the impact upon
almost every area of life for
those living during the time period since
1970. Although some claim
that the beginning of the Personal
Computer (PC) Revolution began in 1966,
it took a few years and many technological
advances before it began to be
While mainframe computers had been around
for a while, the average
hobbyist interested in computers or programming
had no resources available
for a reasonable price or size for home
use. During the early days before 1970, hobbyists borrowed time on
a mainframe computer owned by educational institutions or research facilities.
One of these hobbyists was Bill
In 1969, Gates
and friend, Paul Allen, managed to gain computer time on a mainframe computer,
Equipment Corp. (DEC) PDP-10, for their services of debugging software.
Up until that time, developments that affected personal computing were
slow. After the patent of the first microprocessor
in 1970, the PC Revolution began to move a little faster, like a steam
locomotive pulling out of the station. It was the microprocessor
that revolutionized the computer industry.
Intel corporation introduced the first
manufactured microcomputer in 1971. It contained their, just introduced,
chip, the 4004. Other chips carrying the 4000 series manufactured
by Intel were also used. Earlier in the same year, Steve Wozniak and Bill
Fernandez built a home-brew computer with surplus parts. Like
Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak also become a key player in the PC Revolution.
In 1974, Ed Roberts, heavily in debt, built
a small computer called the Altair.
During the next year, Allen
and Gates developed software
for the Altair. This was the first software developed for a PC.
Later in that year, this software was licensed to MIT. Also, in 1975,
Gates and Allen founded Micro-Soft (the hyphen was later dropped).
Who would have thought that Microsoft
would become the world's largest and richest corporation manufacturing
a non-tangible product, software.
Up until 1980, many players entered the
market selling their own PC's. A nationwide chain, RadioShack, sold
its brand of computer, the TRS
80, lovingly named the "Trash 80" by their owners. The Apple
Computer Corp. was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and began to
sell computers in the marketplace, as well. Commodore Business Machines
developed the PET
computer, a predecessor to the VIC-20.
By the end of the 90's, the PC has
certainly revolutionized the lives of most people. Many could not
perform their jobs
without a PC. Other functions would be so labor intensive, that it
would be economically unfeasible to perform them without a PC. Becoming
computer literate is now a goal in elementary schools today, and colleges
offer courses using computers
and the Internet. Young children operate PC's as their parents
gaze in amazement. Very few demographic groups do not know how to
operate a PC. The PC Revolution is a work in rapid progress and there
is more to come. To add to and paraphrase a question used in Microsoft's
advertisements: From history, you know where you have been.
Do you know where we will go in the future with the PC Revolution?
to the PC Revolution main page
of this paper
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Evans and Harry Mack
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