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.
Apple introduced the $10,000 Lisa in 1983 and the $2,500 Macintosh in 1984. Both used the 68000 CPU. The Atari ST, based on the same processor, arrived in 1985 at just $799 – or $999 with color, which the Mac didn’t have yet.
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.
Apple, Atari, and Commodore Amiga all made personal computers based on the Motorola 680×0 family of processors. This article covers models introduced since the start of 1991. For earlier models, see Timeline of 680×0 Computers, 1980-1990.
Although it is best known for its use in Macintosh, Atari ST, and Amiga computers, the Motorola 68000 family of CPUs predates the Macintosh by five years.
The Atari 2600 was once the king of gaming consoles, but Atari was a late entrant to the personal computing field.