PC History

This site, which documents the history of pre-IBM PCs, is a tribute to the work of Stan Veit, a pioneer of personal computing.

The core of the site, everything apart from the timeline pages below, was created by Stan between 1999 and 2002. It is now being preserved, for the enjoyment of future generations.

















 

 

 



Timeline Pages

PC-History.Org is the centerpiece of a growing hub of historical information on computing related topics. These gradually will be added to over time. For your enjoyment, we are pleased to bring you the history of....

The PC Virus

Computer Forensics

ISO 17799

ITIL

Cobit

 



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Pre-IBM PC Computers.

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MITS ALTAIR 8800-The start of it all

The MITS Altair was the first 8080 based  kit microcomputer. It was first introduced in the January, 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine as a construction project.  The reaction to the Altair was un-expected by either the magazine or by MITS who designed it.  Although not the first available microcomputer , it was the start of the industry.
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IMSAI -8080 The micro-computer that was more than a toy

The Imsai 8080 developed by IMS Associates, was designed to use the same bus structure as the Altair 8800 with interchangeable circuit boards. The Imsai 8080 however was much better built, had a more powerful  power supply, and front panel. It supplanted the Altair A model as the standard  S-100 Bus computer. The Imsai was the first for a complete line of micros built by this company.

 

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Southwest Tech 6800- The kit builders favorite

The M6800 Computer kit from South West Technical Products Company used the Motorola 6800 processor and the SS-50 bus structure.  Much less expensive than the S-100 bus computers and much simpler to build, the M6800 became very popular. In addition SWTPC provided a complete family of peripherals kits at very low cost. The software for the M6800 was excellent and very inexpensive.
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The SOL-First 8080 Desktop microcomputer

Processor Technology company designed and sold a full line of boards for the S-100 computers.  In 1977 they designed the SOL Computer which used most of their circuit boards. The SOL had a video terminal built-in, only requiring a video monitor. In a very attractive case with walnut wood sides, the SOL became a very popular computer that influenced the design of  future computers. Pro. Tech did not provide a low cost floppy disk system so users turned to North Star for their disk storage.
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Apple II The micro that made it into business and homes .

The Apple II was the first true"personal computer" it was factory built, in-expensive and easy to learn and use. Provided with the most extensive set of software and low cost floppy disks, the  Apple II was also the first personal computer capable of color graphics and easy modem operation..  Development of  the Visicalc spreadsheet program created a business tool that made adoption of Apple II a regular part of business.
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TRS-80 (Trash 80), The most popular home computer

Radio Shack's  TRS-80 selling for about $500 complete with video monitor and BASIC took the personal computer market by storm.  Using a fast Z-80 processor it use a cassette recorder for program and data storage. Later models incorporated disk drives and more memory. the Model III, housed in one case became the most popular personal computer in schools and homes rivaling the Apple II.  Radio Shack also built other types of personal computers including the first practical laptop, the Model 100.
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Atari 800- The machine that won the color graphics race

The Atari Models 400 and 800 were considered the best personal computers for games and color graphics. They had a very large family of game software, but not much business software. Lack of good  disk and peripheral support cased these machines to have a short life.
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Commodore 64- Breaking the price barrier

The Commodore 64 was the best-selling personal computer of all time. It had a large memory capacity, low cost floppy disks and peripherals and color graphics. It could use a TV for a monitor and there was all the software anyone could want.   Commodore in a price war with Texas Instruments, reduced the prices of the C-64 as low as $260 and more of them were sold than any computer in history.

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Texas Instruments TI 99-4

The Texas Instruments 99-4A used a TI 16-bit processor and was an excellent graphics computer.  It lacked easy expansion capabilities and required proprietary software.

After engaging in a price war with Commodore, TI stopped production and sold out below $100 per computer

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Heath- Desktop with built-in floppy and monitor

The Heath Desktop was one of the first computers designed as complete desktop machines including monitor, floppy disks and keyboard. Heath made a full line of computers and was later bought by Zenith.
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Morrow- Powerful S-100 Z80 Computer using CP/M

The Morrow computer was one of last powerful  Z-80 powered S-100 computers. Representative of the designs supplanted by the IBM PC, this machine was sold as a complete system including a video terminal and printer.

It ran the CP/M operating system and the MP/M multi-user operating system.

The Morrow Company was a leading supplier of disk systems for CP/M computers.


 

 

LATEST INFORMATION & LINKS

 

Photographs: See our growing collection of other interesting photographs: here

 

More Pre-IBM PCs: Including Ohio Scientific and The Digital Group 

 

Software: The Birth of PC Software (including 'The Rise of "Killer" Apps)

 

Other PC History & Museum Sites Links: We have recently added an external Links Section 


 


This site is under construction by Stan Veit and the PC History Association. Stan Veit will make his vast collection available on the net and provide a site for learning about antique computers.  Your comments and contributions are most welcome. The site will grow into a resource for all interested in computer history.  Note: we will not publish arguments about which computer was the best.

To contact site administration: pchistory [at] pc-history . org

To contact Stan Veit:  stv [at] pc-history . org

Browse the Keyword Map of Pc-History.Org 


 

 

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