How the PC was invented

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It’s fair to say that there probably isn’t a single invention that has transformed the world in quite the way the PC has. Okay, maybe the wheel, and the alphabet, and irrigation, but you get what we’re saying! These days computers are more important and influential than ever, and the world as we know it runs pretty much on computers these days. This all started with the PC – sure, games consoles have grown in popularity in recent times, but the PC came first.

So, in order to assess the influence of the PC and the impact it has had on the world, it’s important to look at how it was invented. One thing is clear, and that is that the PCs of today are vastly different from the computers we saw decades ago. In order to find out about the invention and evolution of the PC, we must go back, all the way back to the 1970s, and post-war America.

Early years

Following the huge, hulking computers that came out of the post-World War II era, PCs would go on to become a huge commodity. When they first came out, the earliest examples of PCs were anything but personal! They were incredibly large and expensive and needed round-the-clock attention to keep them running. ENIAC was one of the earliest, and it was built at the University of Pennsylvania. It weighed 30 tons, took up 2,000 square feet, and cost around half a million dollars! Hardly the most user-friendly of computers!

Innovation

Obviously, computers like the ENIAC were not suited for customers; they were simply too large and cumbersome to be appealing. Changes needed to be made, and computers needed to be scaled down where possible. These early computers were essential for universities and science facilities, as they could figure out things like missile trajectories and launch codes, and do it much faster than humans. But, we were still a ways away from creating an actual personal computer that someone could use at home. Once the microprocessor was invented in 1971, it wouldn’t be long before everything else would follow suit, and computers could begin to become much smaller.

A world-changer

In 1974 we had the first step in the process of what would eventually become the invention of the personal computer. A build-your-own computer kit called Altair hit the market, offered by the company MITS. This proved to be revolutionary, and, though basic, it was hugely popular and developed the public’s appetite for more. In 1975, MITS hired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to develop the programming for the Altair. Later that same year, the pair formed their own company, Microsoft. A year later, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, built the first ever PC computer, named the Apple I. The Apple II followed 2 years later, and both were much more advanced than the Altair.

The revolution

Since then the PC world has never looked back, and computers have grown in popularity, stature, and importance. Companies like IBM entered the market, and there was competition to make PCs better, faster, and more appealing. Graphics cards and extra RAM became additional features, as floppy disks evolved, and then eventually became CDs. These days PCs are an integral part of pretty much every household in the developed world, and they continue to evolve and get better.

As we know, PCs are incredibly important and influential, and it’s fascinating to look at where they’ve come from, and compare it with how they are now. Society could not run without PCs these days, and there is some debate as to whether or not this is a good thing. But, the fact remains that our use of computers is only likely to grow over time, and we look forward to the next phase of the evolution process.

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