Five decades ago, IBM unveiled the 5150, marking not just the genesis of a machine but the dawn of the personal computer as we recognise it today. The surge in modern computing was immediate, sparking a race to refine the concept of the “personal computer.” Various innovations entered the arena, with some emerging as monumental successes while others faded into obscurity. Let’s journey through time and explore the ten most pivotal computers since the introduction of the IBM PC.
1981: The IBM PC
This machine shattered many existing perceptions about computers. It was affordable, compact and popularised the term “PC” across households and offices.
1982: Franklin Ace 100
The Franklin Ace 100 became infamous as the subject of the first software copyright lawsuit. Remarkably similar to the Apple II, both in the operating system and hardware, it eventually led to a court ruling in favour of Apple. This landmark decision set the precedent that computer software could be copyrighted.
1982: Commodore 64
Possibly the most iconic home computer ever made, the Commodore 64 saw nearly 30 million units sold between 1982 and 1993, etching its place in history.
1982: ZX Spectrum
A sensation in the UK, the ZX Spectrum, crafted by Clive Sinclair (who later received a knighthood for his contributions to British industry), mirrored the success of the Commodore 64 in the US. It prompted an explosion of interest in computing, with 5 million units flying off the shelves.
1983: IBM PC XT
An evolved successor to the original IBM PC, the XT was revolutionary for its inclusion of an internal 10 MB hard drive, an anomaly back then. It rapidly became the industry standard.
1983: Apple Lisa
Apple’s Lisa introduced the world to the first consumer-grade computer featuring a graphical interface. However, its whopping $10,000 price tag was quite a hurdle for potential buyers.
The Macintosh, nearly 40 years after its launch, remains the inspiration for contemporary Apple computers. Like Lisa, it boasted a graphical user interface but was more accessible to consumers, thanks to its more affordable price.
1990: NeXT Turbo Dimension Cube
While NeXT is known as the company Steve Jobs founded post his Apple exit, this computer’s significance lies elsewhere. It was the model Tim Berners-Lee utilised to launch the World Wide Web.
1996: Deep Blue
After an initial loss to chess legend Garry Kasparov, IBM’s engineers refined Deep Blue, rebranding it as “Deeper Blue.” Its victory against Kasparov in 1997 showcased its staggering processing prowess.
Before the iMac, computers were largely nondescript beige boxes. Apple’s iMac introduced a paradigm shift in design with its striking curves, available in a palette of vibrant hues.
The story of computers is a tale of human ingenuity, vision, and the relentless drive to better our tools and ourselves. From reshaping industries to transforming daily lives, these machines have had profound impacts that ripple across generations. As technology advances at an accelerating pace, one can only wonder what the next iconic machine will be and how it will reshape our world. But for now, we celebrate the trailblazers that led us here.