Odds are good you’re reading this blog entry on a personal computer. This is true even if you’re reading it on a mobile device. After all, smartphones are essentially just computers that fit in our pockets.
The PC has played a crucial role in our lives for decades now. It’s fair to say the personal computing revolution changed the world forever.
Thus, you might find this subject interesting. While it would be impossible to cover everything you need to know about the history of personal computing in a single blog post, these facts are particularly worth learning.
The History of Personal Computing: 3 Facts You Should Know
It Started with Hobbyists
Most of us take personal computers for granted. We don’t realize that for a long time, computers may have existed, but the average person didn’t use one. Instead, businesses and government organizations used computers.
The closest equivalent to personal computing was the work of hobbyists. Engineers (and prodigies with an interest in engineering) would design their own computers for various functions. These initial steps helped pave the way for the revolution to come.
The GUI Was a Breakthrough
In 1964, Douglas Engelbart introduced a prototype computer featuring a mouse and graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI is another aspect of personal computing that we tend to take for granted these days.
Quite simply, when you want to open a program or file on your computer, you use the mousepad to direct the cursor to the relevant icon or folder, and you click on it. Pretty easy. However, that was not always the case. Before the GUI, people had to use cumbersome methods (such as entering commands) to open programs and files. The specialized knowledge this required prevented many average people from comfortably using computers. Thanks to the GUI, their opinions began to change when they realized that navigating a computer is not as difficult as they had initially assumed.
The 1970s Were Big
The 1970s may be the decade when the personal computing revolution started in earnest. This is when the first personal computers, such as the Mark-8 Altair and IBM 5100, first hit store shelves. It’s also when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple from a garage.
Wozniak was a hobbyist. Like many of his peers, he was somewhat skeptical that a market for personal computers could ever exist. He believed that most regular people wouldn’t be interested in using these devices.
Although Jobs understood Wozniak’s concerns, he believed (correctly) that computers would continue to become even more powerful and valuable in the near future. He also believed that average people should have access to that power. Thus, Jobs and Wozniak committed themselves to developing computers featuring characteristics (such as a GUI) that would appeal to the consumer. Bill Gates spotted the opportunity as well, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Again, the story of the personal computing revolution is long (and fraught with myths). This isn’t meant to be a full overview of the subject. Instead, it’s simply an introduction to a topic that’s relevant to all our lives.