Meet the Microcomputer—The initial Personal Computer

microcomputerThis post is in recognition of the early inventors, technicians, programmers, and operators of the huge mainframe computers which gave way to the early microcomputers. Personal computers (PCS) in vogue today, contrary to belief, didn’t spring up and into the hands of teens and young adults who presume they are the only computer experts. Baby Boomers, grandfathers and grandmothers, were the first “computer geniuses”.

The WP Daily Post Prompt—MICRO

Microcomputers became popular in the 1970s and 1980s with the rise of increasingly powerful microprocessors. Before these computers, mainframes and minicomputers were comparatively larger and more expensive.

IBM mainframes


Virtually all early microcomputers were essentially boxes with lights and switches. One had to read and understand binary numbers and machine language to program and use them. Of the early “box of switches”-type microcomputers, the MITS Altair 8800 (1975) was arguably the most famous.

Although the Altair itself was only a mild commercial success, it helped spark a huge industry.

Most of these simple, early microcomputers were sold as electronic kits—bags full of loose components which the buyer had to solder together before the system could be used.

The MITS Altair played an instrumental role in sparking significant hobbyist interest, which eventually led to the founding and success of many well-known personal computer hardware and software companies, such as Tandy and Microsoft.

The period from about 1971 to 1976 is sometimes called the first generation of microcomputers. Many companies such as DEC, National Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments offered microcomputers.

By 1977, the introduction of the second generation, known as home computers, made microcomputers considerably easier to use. The ability to connect to a monitor (screen) or TV set allowed visual manipulation of text and numbers. The BASIC language was easier to learn and use than raw machine language and became a standard feature.

The second generation, known as home computers, became a standard feature.

Though the abbreviation micro was common during the 1970s and 1980s, it is no longer commonly used. After the 1981 release by IBM of its IBM PC, the term personal computer became generally used for microcomputers compatible with the IBM PC architecture.

In 1980, Microsoft, a multinational computer technology corporation founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, formed a partnership with IBM to bundle Microsoft’s operating system with IBM computers; with that deal, IBM paid Microsoft a royalty for every sale.

Early Microsoft photo

In 1985, IBM asked Microsoft to develop a new operating system for their computers called OS/2. Microsoft produced that operating system, but also continued to sell their own alternative, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft launched several versions of Microsoft Windows and by the 1990s, Windows had captured over 90% market share of the world’s personal computers. The original name Micro-Soft, is a marriage of the words microcomputer and software.

microsoft sign

Source: All information and images from Wikipedia




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Educator, Author, Blogger, and supporter of Independent Writers. One mystery novel, The Neon Houses, Find me on Twitter @boom_lyn.

7 thoughts on “Meet the Microcomputer—The initial Personal Computer

  1. Interesting computer history, Linda! I didnt know about microcomputer and great picture of microsoft! Sure has come a long way fast

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