Looking Back at the History of the Personal Computer

When we look back to the first personal computer – the Apple I – we do not see today’s machines. What we see is the beginning of the first great age of computers. The Apple I sparked other companies to start producing personal computers. For instance, Microsoft licensed a copy of its Windows operating system to IBM, which made the IBM PC. Then, you look at today and see iMacs, MacBooks, and PCs. How did we get from there to here?

Way back in the 1970’s, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (“Woz”) started Apple Computer, Inc. The company produced many units of the new computer called Apple I. It sold without a case, keyboard, or screen – you had to buy your own. Soon, the company started to grow, and made its second computer, unsurprisingly called the Apple II. This machine became really popular.



Photo from cedmagic.com

Around this time, some new competition started filtering into the market – most notably, the IBM PC. It was cheap – which, of course, people loved. Then, Apple released a breakthrough in personal computers. Most certainly, the biggest new feature was the graphical user interface, where some kind of pointing device moves around and interacts with other objects on the screen. You guessed it: in 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh.

Almost immediately, it gained lots of fame. But soon it lost its sparkle, it was under-powered and overpriced. Next, of course, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. This left the door right open for Windows PC makers to become the top personal computer producers. Apple continued to decline, and Microsoft rose to be the king of the personal computer market.

As you may or may not know, Jobs went on to work at Pixar and NeXT.  Fast forward a while, and Apple bought NeXT, bringing Jobs back to Apple. He went on to rise to CEO and work with some amazing people to create some amazing products, like the iMac.

Well, there you have a basic history of personal computers. Ending, of course, with today’s powerful machines that we can’t live without. It’s an interesting story, one with ups and downs for both Apple and Microsoft.

But, as Steve Jobs liked to say, There’s One More Thing.

Well, rather, two more things: When someone says computer to you, you think of desktops and laptops, right? But a new great age of the personal computer is coming in: the post-PC era. That means things like tablets and smartphones.

Yeah, you read that right. Tablets and smartphones are personal computers. Well, think about it. People are starting to use those devices like they once did (and sometimes still do) use their computers.

So tablets and smartphones – they’re already the next era of the personal computer.

Are you ready for the next era of personal computers?

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