History of the Personal Computer
Take a visual tour through the history of personal computing. This list covers all the major milestones, from Alto to iPad.
Xerox Alto was the first truly modern personal computer, it had number of firsts including graphical user interface (GUI), desktop, mouse. Apple, Sun and later Microsoft derived/copied heavily from this design. Xerox Alto was never commercial product, but 2000 were built, used at PARC and some universities. Specs: 2.5MB cartridge, upto 512kB memory, TI 74181 CPU.
Micral was the first non-kit commercial personal computer. Specs: Intel 8008 processor running at 500 KHz, 8-inch floppy disk reader, priced at $1,750.
Altair 8800 was the first consumer computer; it was sold through mail order as a hobbyist kit ($439) or as an assembled version ($621). It showed for the first time that there was a lot of interest/demand for personal computers, before Altair 8800 computers were confined to universities, government labs and large corporations.
Apple II was one of the first truly successful personal computer selling more than 5 million units. It was particularly popular with business users, families and secondary schools. Specs: MOS Technology 6502 processor running at 1 MHz, 4KB of RAM and an audio cassette for loading data. Base price was $1298.
PET 2001 was first all-in-one home computer, the "PET" was on backorder for months do to strong demand. Specs: MOS Technology 6502 running at 1 MHz, 4KB RAM. PET 2001 came with 9-inch monochrome monitor 40x25 character display.
Osborne 1 was the first portable computer that enjoyed commercial success. Specs: 4 MHz Z80 processor, 64 KB RAM, Dual 5.25-inch floppy drives, 5-inch 52x24 character display, 23.5 lb weight, and priced at $1795.
The first IBM PC. Specs: Intel 8088 processor running at 4.77MHz, 16 KB RAM, dual 5.25-inch 160 KB floppy drives, optional color monitor, starting at $1,565 (no monitor no drives).
Commodore 64 was the first affordable personal computer, it outsold all other computers between 1983-1986, with total sales reaching 17 million units. Specs: MOS Technology 6510 processor running at 1 MHz, 64 KB RAM, price $595.
Apple Lisa was the first commercially available GUI (Graphical User Interface) computer. Specs: Motorola 68000 processor running at 5 MHz, 1 MB RAM, dual 5.25-inch drives, price was set at $9,995.
Macintosh had all the options of Apple Lisa but for the 1/4 of the price. For this reason it was the first commercially successful GUI computer. Specs: Motorola 68000 processor running at 5MHz, 128 KB RAM, price $2,495.
- This list only covers major PC milestones. Don't add insignificant PCs.