A Decade of Personal Computing
10 artifacts in this set
Introduced in 1977, the Commodore PET computer was part of the computer industry's transition from experimental to mass-marketed products. Manufactured by Commodore Business Machines of West Chester, Pennsylvania, it was the first computer with an integrated color display monitor. This model's calculator-style keyboard was not popular with Americans, but became a standard in Europe.
The Osborne 1 is the first mass-produced portable computer--a suitcase-sized "luggable" system weighing 23.5 pounds. It was one of the first bundled systems, with an inclusive package of hardware and software including word processing, spreadsheet, and BASIC programs. Despite initial success, when Osborne declared bankruptcy in 1983, it became the prototype victim of sudden, devastating, technological crashes in high-tech economies.
The Commodore 64 made home computing accessible to a broad public in the 1980s. Released in 1982 as a successor to the VIC-20, the C64 was priced cheaply and was essential in establishing the home computing market. As an early platform for growing consumer-friendly software and game industries, it remains one of the top-selling personal computers of all time.
The Apple IIGS improved upon Apple's first mass market PC, the Apple II. The "GS" relates to its excellent graphics and sound capabilities. It was also one of the first Apples to use a mouse and a color graphical user interface. This system was popular among educators; this IIGS was used in a Detroit classroom in the late 1980s.
IMSAI 8080 Microcomputer, Used with Home Built Interface and IBM Selectric Typewriter, Assembled in 1977
The IMSAI 8080 was a clone of the Altair 8800, the first mass marketed personal computer. It was a popular "kit computer," requiring assembly and programming. With no keyboard, toggle switches allowed input and LED lights signaled output. This could be modified using an IBM I/O typewriter. The donor, O.S. Narayanaswami, was a mechanical engineer interested in the educative power of computers.
In 1984, the Apple Macintosh became the first popular personal computer to feature the now-ubiquitous mouse and "graphical user interface" desktop. Despite the Mac's relatively high price, its user-friendly features helped it demystify computing for many people without a technical bent. This computer is a Macintosh 512k, released in 1985 with increased memory.
Introduced in 1979 by popular electronics company Tandy RadioShack, this microcomputer was marketed as a powerful, multitasking business machine. Big and small businesses alike established a culture of personal computers in the workplace. In opposition to previous generations who built and programmed their own machines, TRS users were discouraged by the company to tamper with its proprietary hardware and software.
The Apple Lisa is the first personal computer to successfully promote the Graphical User Interface. GUIs made computing accessible. People could use a mouse to click on task-specific icons, rather than typing instructions into a text-based command line. The Lisa II is similar to the Lisa I, with a lower price point and a smaller, 3.5" floppy disc drive.
This is one of the first 50 Apple 1 computers. Apple 1s were the first pre-assembled personal computers; Steve Wozniak assembled this one in Steve Jobs's family home. Before the release of the Apple 1, owning a personal computer meant building it yourself. Wozniak's refined engineering skills, coupled with Jobs's bold marketing abilities, led to a revolutionary and affordable product--as well as a successful company.
The Heath Company was founded in the 1920s as a "do-it-yourself" electronics kit provider. "Heathkits" provided simple, accessible instructions understandable to amateurs and experts alike. As hobbyists built radios, televisions, and computers from scratch, they gained electronics skills. These kits were not novelties, but emphasized access to affordable, advanced, high-performance technology. Parallels easily be seen within present-day...