Some of you may remember seeing one of the first personal computers at a Radio Shack store in the latter part of 1977. Although there were three competing “home computer” systems on the market, only the TRS-80 was widely available – it was on display at 3,500 Radio Shack stores throughout the United States!
The personal computing revolution started in 1974 with the 2 MHz Intel 8080, Intel’s first 8-bit CPU capable of addressing 64 KB of memory. (The earlier 8008 from 1972 could only address 16 KB.) But there was a parallel path, a new CPU family that Motorola launched in 1974.
Believe it or not, word processing predated the personal computer revolution by over a decade. In 1964, IBM combined its Selectric typewriter (1961) with a magnetic tape drive in the IBM MT/ST, making it possible for the first time to edit text without having to retype everything.
The personal computing revolution began with the Intel 8080 CPU. This 8-bit CPU was introduced in 1974 at 2 MHz and was the heart of the first kit computer, the MITS Altair 8800. But it was the far less costly 6502 CPU that drove the home computing market.
Introduced in January 1984, Apple’s Macintosh changed everything – but the world of personal computing was nearly a decade old, and Apple was already successful with its Apple II line. These articles look at Apple before the advent of the Mac, as well as the broader world of personal computing.
Personal computing never would have gotten started if not for the invention of microprocessors, which puts a computer’s CPU (central processing unit) on a single chip – sometimes with companion chips. Intel released the first commercial CPU in 1971, and the first 8-bit “home computers” arrived just a few years later.
Back in the early days of personal computing, benchmarks were usually written in BASIC and tweaked for each competing brand of computer and BASIC in use. This article looks at some popular benchmarks from the 8-bit era of home computing.
The most important development in 1983 was the Personal Computer Price War. Texas Instruments had nearly destroyed Commodore International when TI began selling fully assembled calculators for less than Commodore and other calculator makers paid for components. Jack Tramiel, Commodore’s founder, vowed revenge.
In 1977, Radio Shack became one of the first companies to sell personal computers, but it didn’t have a model with color graphics until 1980. This is the story of the Radio Shack Color Computer.
The Atari 2600 was once the king of gaming consoles, but Atari was a late entrant to the personal computing field.
In 1977, there were three home computers: The Apple II, the Commodore PET, and the TRS-80, which was sold at 3,500 Radio Shack stores across the United States. Apple and Commodore used the MOS Tech 6502 CPU in their computers, but Radio Shack chose the Zilog Z-80.
Best known for the Commodore 64, the best selling single model in the history of computing, Commodore International was one of the first companies to enter the personal computing market and the first with a million-selling computer. Its first model was the Commodore PET.
Prior to the September 1986 introduction of the Apple IIGS, every Apple II computer ran an 8-bit 1 MHz 6502 processor, used 5-1/4″ floppy disks, had a very limited color palette, and sound was nothing to write home about. The Apple IIGS changed all of that.
The Apple II family was known for its expansion options – eight slots for adding capabilities. Inevitably one held a floppy controller, typically one held a parallel printer card, and another might have a serial card for a modem or printer. Some bought Microsoft’s Z-80 SoftCard to run CP/M. But for most users, most slots remained empty.
The Apple II and II Plus had been a runaway success for Apple, establishing it in the home, the school, and, thanks to VisiCalc, the workplace. Even though that was true, these models had some shortcomings that were addressed when the Apple IIe was introduced in January 1983.
Although the Apple 1, introduced in April 1976, had been a big success among the hobbyist crowd, people who didn’t mind assembling their own computer and designing a case for it, it was not part of the ready-to-go personal computer revolution of the late 1970s. That’s where the Apple II comes in.
The first computer worthy of the name “computer” was produced more than 60 years ago. It was a monstrous machine, covering more than 136 square meters and used 18,000 vacuum tubes (the predecessors to the transistor). It was capable of computing the sum of 5,000 numbers ten digits in length per second. It’s name was ENIAC, […]
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, computing made a great leap forward with the advent of 16-bit microcomputers like the Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST. The Apple II, introduced in 1978, was a phenomenally successful platform, eventually coming to possess a 20% share of the personal computer market in the US. But by […]
As a computer manufacturer, Apple gets a strangely distorted press. Its position as the only serious commercial competitor to Microsoft guarantees that every move the company makes is documented – and often distorted.
Realizing that the Apple II would not sustain Apple forever, the Sara project began. The main idea of Sara was to create a more powerful and capable Apple II. It would include 128 KB of RAM, an integrated floppy drive, and a high resolution display – 80 columns wide instead of the Apple II’s 40.
Well, hi there. As a new contributor to Low End Mac, I would just like to extend my hand and offer you the warmest of welcomes. I know a lot of you have been avid readers and followers of Low End Mac, and I don’t want to disappoint!