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A history of personal computing in 20 objects part 2

The 1980s to the Present

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Archaeologic Personal computing may have originally been more ‘computing’ than ‘personal, but that changed in the late 1970s in the US and, in the UK, during the early 1980s.

In the first part of ‘A History of Personal Computing on 20 Objects’, we saw how computing went from maths gadgets to first mechanical, then electromechanical and finally electronic number crunchers, and then the steady shrinkage of systems from room-size to table-size to the desktop and the first machines designed to be used one-on-one.

Now we move into the later quarter of the 20th Century and bring our story up to the present day with the rise of the desktop computing standards, and the inevitable move to mobility: luggables to laptops to PDAs, smartphones and tablets. The era of truly personal computing on the move.

Now read on...

The home front...

Science of Cambridge ZX80

ZX80

Source: Marcin Wichary

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Sinclair’s ZX80 - released in 1980 though named after its CPU, the Zilog Z80 - was arguably the first British personal computer. Sir Clive Sinclair’s Science of Cambridge had released the MK14 in 1977, and Acorn had released a similar product, the System 1, in 1979, but both were simply boards with an LED for output and numeric keys for input. Both were intended for techies. The Jim Westwood-designed ZX80 - closely followed by the Acorn Atom - was the first British computer cased and equipped with a Qwerty keyboard to be aimed at individual, ordinary users, and the first British micro to go on sale for under £100. Some 50,000 would be sold before the ZX80 was discontinued in 1981.

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