Home computers are omnipresent in our daily lives. Notebooks and desktop PCs to smartphones and tablets; we really cannot do without all those devices. How different was that forty years ago! A computer at home? Are you crazy?
The first electric, programmable computer in 1943 saw all the light: the Colossus. This device was used in WWII by British code breakers, who deciphered messages. Three years later, the ENIAC was presented, which applies to many as the first digital computer. Thus, the era of mainframes had arrived that you saw only in companies and were unfit for the home.
It would take decades before the first computers showed up for home use. Intel gave this development in 1971, a boost to market the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004. The KENBAK-1 from 1971 is regarded by many as the first personal computer.
The MITS Altair 8800 was the first computer that did well commercially in 1975. Commands are entered using switches and reading was done with LEDs on the front.
Apple icon Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were quick to bring home computers. ‘Woz’ appeared in 1977 with the of the Apple II, which unlike the Altair 8800 was delivered with monitor and keyboard. The device has been particularly popular among home users. After the advent of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program on a computer, you saw the Apple II also often in business environments.
Suddenly, the computer was a useful financial tool for business. That same year also appeared the Commodore PET and the first all-in-one home computer, the TRS-80. The success of these models and the Apple II led other manufacturers to bring the computer to home use.
There were plenty of other home PCs in between after Apple II, which were popular for home use. The BBC Micro, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and Atari 800XL were in great demand.
The Commodore 64 iconic device with its 1MHz processor and 64Kb of RAM was the best-selling home computer of all time. It was estimated that 10 million to 17 million units sold at the time. Much of this was related to the possibility of playing games on the computer. The Commodore 64 was also equipped with an advanced sound chip, called the SID chip. It makes the C64 a perfect system for advanced games to play with accompanying music and sound effects.
Atari was particularly in the birth of the video game console (with the Atari 2600), but it has certainly contributed to the home computer industry. We already mentioned the Atari 800XL, but we can certainly not ignore the Atari 1040 ST.
Thanks to a monochrome screen with high resolution, the system was very suitable for framing on with the aid of CAD-applications. Another significant advantage of the system: the Atari 1040 ST was equipped with MIDI connectors, which allow you directly club electronic music equipment. Even today this system is also used in many music studios.
Every home computer has excelled in something, but the Amiga did this almost every level. Amiga brought the graphics system to the home computer. The first system was the Amiga 1000, released in 1985. This system was not exactly a success, but subsequent models like the Amiga 500 were found many takers. Now we can say that the Amiga in the 80’s did what PCs would only do in the 90: function as a flexible system for both work as well as for multimedia content consumption. Although Commodore is bankrupt since 1994, the Amiga brand lives on.
The days of the home computer did not last forever. With the IBM Personal Computer, which was launched in 1981, the computer landscape was changed forever. The IBM Compatible PC has given the road for Microsoft to build Windows operating system. From the late 80, retailers were selling fewer home compatible computers. Microsoft Windows and the Macintosh series computers started to rule home users.