A Brief History of the PC Industry

The personal computer (PC) has developed dramatically since the birth of home computing. The term “personal computer” was coined by Ed Roberts, who also developed and sold the Altair 8800 in 1975. It is at this time that computers steadily began to become part of our home lives. Here is a brief rundown of significant development points in the PC industry since their inception.

The 70s and 80s

There were several standout moments in the 1970s and 1980s for PCs where momentum was beginning to build in the industry. In October 1977, the Commodore PET was launched and was recognized by many to be the first widely available PC for home use. With 4Kb of RAM and a processor speed of 1MHz it was a tiny fraction as powerful as today’s modern PCs and was expensive, costing around $2,000 in todays’ money.

IBM came into the home computer marketplace in 1981 with its IBM PC. In 1983 the first Apple home computer was launched—the Apple Lisa—and boasted a graphical user interface and a mouse. In this year, Compaq also entered the market with the Compaq Portable, which was a reverse-engineered IBM PC.

In 1985 there was the significant step forward in home computing, with the launch of the first Microsoft operating system. Named Microsoft Windows 1.0, it was the earliest form of what is now the most popular operating system globally for PCs.

The 90s and the internet boom

The 1990s represented a period of great leaps in computer performance and usability. At the start of the decade Microsoft had released Windows 3.0. Its performance and stability were much improved on the previous versions and with this iteration of the operating system it began to become a more popular interface across a variety of PCs. However, system crashes were still frequent occurrences compared to today’s systems until the launch of Windows NT in 1993, which improved user experiences.

In the 1990s Apple was struggling in the home computer market with its first operating system—Mac OS—being released in 2001. The world wide web was born in 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee introduced it as a way of retrieving stored information, as opposed to simply sending information from computer to computer as had been done previously. The internet began to be available to PC owners after 1992 when students and researchers at Illinois University developed a browser called Mosaic, which later became known as Netscape. This was the first truly user-friendly method of searching the internet.

The modern-day PC

In 2022 the modern PC is vastly more powerful than its earliest counterparts and there is much more choice for the consumer. Whilst PCs are found in every office around the world there has been a particular rise in the popularity of using PCs specifically for gaming. Lenovo 4K gaming PCs are one example of high-end PCs that are designed for gamers and can utilize 4K screen resolutions and run games at 60 frames per second.

In the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, home working is far more prevalent in modern life and the home office has become an integral part of most homes. Laptops are lighter and more powerful than ever and are often used as home office PCs. Today, most modern PCs can undertake a wide range of tasks ranging from word processing to CAD and gaming. Thanks to advanced modern multi-core processors, multitasking using several applications at once is also a reality.