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.
The Atari 2600 was once the king of gaming consoles, but Atari was a late entrant to the personal computing field.
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.
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.
Apple has a very impressive track record. It is the only personal computer company to have survived from the early days of 8-bit computing while once mighty Commodore, Radio Shack, and Atari no longer exist or long ago stopped making personal computers.
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, […]
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.
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