Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2013/02/14

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Subject: [Leica] The History of the Personal Computer
From: lluisripollquerol at (Lluis Ripoll)
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 23:59:44 +0100
References: <>

Thank you Herbert, very interesting!

It was in 1985 that IBM was introduced the PC? At that time I was working 
with a mini computer Hewlett Packard as a personal PC, I was using Ms 2 and 
"Visicalc" a really old predecessor of the Excel!


El 14/02/2013, a las 23:30, Herbert Kanner escribi?:

> People often ask:  "What was the first personal computer?" That is a 
> futile query; it depends too much on the definition of personal computer, 
> a definition that can be quite flexible. So what I'm going to cover here 
> are the personal computers that had a significant effect on the future.
> First is the Altair, circa 1975. It was advertised as a $400 kit in 
> Popular Electronics magazine and the company in Albuquerque, MITS, was 
> swamped with orders. 
> Two young squirts, Bill Gates and Paul Allen phoned MITS and said they had 
> a Basic (programming language) interpreter for the Intel 8080 chick what 
> was its "brain". They actually had not even started programming the 
> interpreter, but fortunately for their enterprise, MITS told them that it 
> would be about a month before they actually had an assembled and working 
> kit.
> When Paul Allen flew to Albuquerque and demonstrated the interpreter, 
> typing "Print 2+2" and getting back "4" the MITS people were astounded; it 
> was the first time they had actually seen their computer do anything.
> Here is a picture of the Altair. Until the the programs enabling it 
> enabling it to read paper tape and use a keyboard are loaded, it had to be 
> programming one bit at a time using the toggle switches on the front, and 
> until it had the program for driving a printer, results had to be read one 
> bit at a time from those lights on the front. It was clearly originally 
> intended as a toy for a hobbyist.
> The effect on the future was: Bill Gates and Paul Allen licensed MITS to 
> use their interpreter and created a company named Micro-Soft, later to be 
> renamed Microsoft.
> Next is the Apple 1, circa 1976. Steve Wozniak built one for his personal 
> use, showed it off at the Homebrew Computer Club, and his buddy, Steve 
> Jobs, decided they could make some money from it. He beat the bushes and 
> found a store called The Byte Shop in Mountain View, CA that was willing 
> to take fifty of them at $500 each and mark them up 1/3, to an unrounded 
> price of $666.66. The Steves were under the illusion that all they had to 
> supply was a printed circuit board and a bag of parts. The Byte Shop 
> disillusioned them and a frantic assembly and testing operation ensued. 
> The printed card in front of the artifact is therefore erroneous, and I'm 
> waiting for the Museum to update it. The company, Apple Computer, was 
> created at that time. The user still had to furnish a keyboard and a 
> television set as the monitor.
> The Apple 2 appeared one year later. You can already see the fine hand of 
> Steve Jobs sculpting the external appearance of the device. In the first 
> version, cassette tape was the medium for loading programs, but later 
> versions provided an operating system for floppy disks. Two years later, 
> 1979, Dan Bricklin and Bob Franskton market the first spread sheet, 
> Visicalc. It was so appealing that Apple salesmen could walk into a 
> business establishment with an Apple 2 under their arm, demonstrate 
> Visicalc, and the proprietor would be sufficiently impressed to buy the 
> computer. My personal opinion is that this success may have been what 
> persuaded IBM to produce the IBM PC in 1981; they realized that such 
> devices were than a toy and that there could be serious market for them.
> In 1985, IBM introduced the first model of the PC. To a certain extent, 
> their heart was not entirely in it. All IBM equipment, prior and since, 
> was completely manufactured by IBM: hardware, software, the lot. But the 
> PC was an exception. The computer chips came from Intel. The operating 
> system came from Microsoft, which bought it from Seattle Software. Except 
> for the physical box, the only IBM contribution was the software for 
> communication with a floppy disk, known as "BIOS" for Basic Input Output 
> System.
> Who can forget the amazing Super Bowl commercial that introduced the 
> Macintosh in 1984. Here is a picture of the original Macintosh model. It's 
> screen was monochrome and didn't even have gray scale; it could just draw 
> fine lines with remarkable resolution.
> Herbert Kanner
> kanner at
> 650-326-8204
> Question authority and the authorities will question you.
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

In reply to: Message from kanner at (Herbert Kanner) ([Leica] The History of the Personal Computer)