What moment in time made computing from just computing to ‘personal’ computing?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 04, 2020 02:54 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 04, 2020 02:54 PM

The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed (William Gibson). To pick such a moment in time you would have to decide what part of humanity “counts”.

The first “personal computer” I am aware of was a Bendix G-15 (tubes, about the size of a refrigerator) which was allegedly installed at the home of its principle designer, Harry Huskey, sometime in the mid 1950s.

If the sort of “occasionally personal” computing typified by all the kids fighting over the single VIC-20 counts, then many computers in the 1960s were “personal”, for one person at a time, for maybe 30 minutes at a time. Once the price of memory declined enough, and logic started running fast enough, “time sharing” provided the illusion of a “personal” computer, until actual personal computers started popping up in the 1970s. Then in 1980 the name was hijacked to mean “bit for bit and bug for bug compatible” IBM PCs.

We still have what we call personal computers, but for the most part they are high-powered terminals hooked into time-sharing systems we call “servers”, and the “owner” doesn’t really own them (in the sense of control). The manufacturer, software provider, and communications provider have much more ownership. But we still call them “personal computers”. Just like we “dial 1 800 old guys” and “hang up” when done talking. 🙂

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