Mouse Design: 1963 to 1983

Although it was invented by Doug Engelbart in 1963, the computer mouse wasn’t an instant success. That had to wait for the 1980s and the introduction of computers with graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

CPUs: Intel 80486

From the 8080 through the 80386, CPUs gained most of its improved performance from greater clock speed and a wider data bus. With the next generation, released in 1989 and 1990 respectively, both Intel and Motorola (in their 680×0 family) worked on making their processors more efficient.

CPUs: Intel 80386 and 80386SX

The 80386 initially shipped at 16 MHz with sample quantities in October 1985 and release to manufacture in early 1986. At 16 MHz, it has a higher clock speed than any Intel version of the 80286. Although the ‘386 includes the same addressing modes as the 8086 and ‘286, it also included new addressing modes, including one […]

CPUs: Intel 80286

Intel’s 80286 CPU, introduced in February 1984, was the first big step forward from the 8088 CPU used in the original IBM PC and a host of PC compatibles.

CGI Story: The Development of Computer Generated Imaging

Alex Schure founded the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) in 1955 to take advantage of the wave of students studying under the GI Bill. NYIT was initially a correspondence school awarding technical certificates. It distinguished itself from the other technical schools by sending graduates a mess of electronics parts supposedly taken from Soviet warehouses […]

CPUs: Intel 8086 and 8088

The IBM PC of August 1981 was build around Intel’s 8088 processor, a CPU released over two years earlier in June 1979. The 8088 itself was designed as a version of Intel’s 16-bit 8086, but on an 8-bit bus instead of a 16-bit bus. Although this made the 8088 a bit less efficient than the 8086, it […]

CPUs: Intel 8080 and Zilog Z-80

Although the Intel 8080 never ran MS-DOS, it is the direct predecessor of the 8086 and 8088 CPUs used in the first IBM PC. The 2 MHz 8080 was released on April 1, 1974 and formed the core of the first personal computers, the MITS Altair 8800 and the IMSAI 8080.

MECC: Educational Computing for the Masses

MECC was for many years one of the major producers of educational content including courseware, videos, and educational computer games for the Apple II, Radio Shack, IBM PC, and later the Macintosh and Windows. MECC was instrumental in ensuring the US was ahead and invested sufficiently in educational computing.

The Origin of Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop™ was, for a time, the killer app for the Macintosh. During the mid-90s, publishing and graphic design had supplanted consumers as the most important market to target, at least in the eyes of former Apple CEOs Gil Amelio and Michael Spindler.

Full Circle: A Brief History of NeXT

Steve Jobs’ career at Apple was unique. His unconventional leadership helped create Apple’s two most important products of the 70s and 80s: the Apple II and the Macintosh. Unfortunately for Jobs, the CEO he had recruited, John Sculley, was not happy with the risks Jobs was willing to take. After a short power struggle that […]

The Rise of Google: Beating Yahoo at Its Own Game

Before 1995, search engines relied on databases of textual keywords to find relevant results. Whenever a user entered a search term, search engines such as AltaVista and Lycos would compare the search term to their databases of terms. The pages that had text most similar to the search term were considered to be more relevant […]

The Pixar Story: Dick Shoup, Alex Schure, George Lucas, Steve Jobs, and Disney

Pixar, a company that revolutionized the feature film industry, had an obscure origin. A group of researchers from the most elite research institutions in the US eventually gathered at a former diploma mill and later defected to Lucasfilm. Their division was purchased by Steve Jobs and became Pixar, which created Toy Story and is now […]

The Story Behind the Sony Walkman

The world took a big step towards the iPod generation when Sony introduced the Walkman in 1979. The device was not particularly advanced – portable tape recorders had existed for decades – but it was an advance in marketing. The Walkman was not promoted to professional journalists, like most portable tape recorders were at the […]

Acorn and the BBC Micro: From Education to Obscurity

In the US, the Apple II was considered the gold standard in the education market. The machine was more expensive than its contemporaries, such as the Commodore 64 and TI-99, but it had a very large software library and was heavily discounted to educators. Its position in the market was augmented by Apple’s Kids Can’t […]

Dan Bricklin, Inventor of the Electronic Spreadsheet

Dan Bricklin (born 1951) codeveloped VisiCalc with Bob Frankston in the late 1970s while he was a student at the Harvard Business School. VisiCalc is widely credited for fueling the rapid growth of personal computers in business. He is currently president of Software Garden, Inc., a small consulting firm and developer of software applications that […]

VisiCalc and the Rise of the Apple II

VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet, was one of the key products that helped bring the microcomputer from the hobbyist’s desk into the office. Before the release of this groundbreaking software, microcomputers were thought of as toys; VisiCalc changed that.

The Apple vs. Microsoft GUI Lawsuit

Microsoft was deeply involved in the development of the Macintosh. Microsoft had been the first outside developer to get a Macintosh prototype. The prototype was promptly nicknamed SAND (Steve’s Amazing New Device) by Bill Gates and Charles Simonyi. Microsoft developed productivity software that the Macintosh desperately needed to make the Macintosh a contender in corporate […]

Origin of the IBM PC

August 12, 1981 marks the birth of the IBM PC, the computer that single-handedly turned personal computing to the business market. IBM’s success forced Apple and others to change their focus, and most personal computer companies from the pre-IBM era have become historical footnotes. By 2006, even Apple Computer had followed IBM’s lead and adopted […]

History of Apple’s Lisa

Apple’s Lisa was first envisioned as a brand new business computer to succeed the very popular Apple II, and it was to be designed by Steve Wozniak. The project was quickly turned over to Ken Rothmuller, a former HP director, as Wozniak drifted away from Apple.