The PC Revolution

(Created by Harry Mack, History 135, July 1998)

 Since the advent of the Personal Computer (PC), life has changed throughout the world. Once a behemoth located in the basement of a research facility, supported by huge air conditioners, the computer has come a long way since Grace Hopper wrote her first program.
To help you learn more about the PC Revolution, here are some assignments.
You can also read a short paper about the PC Revolution.
Some say the PC revolution began in 1966, while others claim that the PC did not gain popularity until years later.  You can read a brief chronology of the history of the PC, or a more detailed chronology.
Do you know how a PC works?
Read a simplified explanation.
Early PC's did not have sound boards or synthesizers, but growing consumer demand has brought the ability to keep sounds and synthesized music in digital format on a disk.  Around 1985, the Commodore 64 computer contained a synthesizer chip to generate music.  It took the PC a few years to catch up.  If your computer can play .mid (midi) files, listen to a sample of a computer generated tune, or listen to a sample of an analog sound that has been put in digital form for computer use .
The PC Revolution has brought with it many ancillary businesses and products. Magazines, software and even a TV network exist for what seems like endless computer shows or, as some people would say:  All computers, all the time.  Other products like scanners, printers, cameras and modems have created new industries to supply the demand of PC users.
The PC Revolution has also caused innovative changes in education.  The simple fact that you are now enrolled in this course proves that.  With the PC tied to the Internet, research has become something done at home instead of school.  The ability to find information using search engines on the Internet such as Excite, Yahoo, and Lycos has also made research much easier and quicker than the days of looking through libraries and mounds of books.
Entertainment or travel is just a mouse click away.  With a video player, you can use your PC to watchTV or listen to a live radio broadcast from Greece.  
The Apple Computer has been a competitor to the PC for many years, but increasingly Apple has had a small share of the market and specialized in graphics.  Read a brief history of the Apple Computer and the major players.
Hard copy is still an acceptable way to learn.  When was the last time you curled up on the sofa with your PC?  Here are some books about the PC Revolution.

This page is copyright © 2000, C.T. Evans and H. Mack.
For information contact cevans@nvcc.edu