NOSHER.NET - A HISTORY OF THE EARLY COMPUTER INDUSTRY IN 300 ADVERTS
https://nosher.net/archives/computers | 2021-11-28 15:45:41
In a private room at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago in January 1977, Commodore launched the world's first complete "personal computer" - a microcomputer that for the first time could be taken out of the box, plugged in and used by regular people without a soldering iron. However, these machines were still expensive and they remained the preserve of businesses and wealthy hobbyists for a few years more. That's until Commodore's VIC-20 and Sinclair's ZX80 ushered in a new wave of affordable home micros at the start of the 1980s which changed everything. The market exploded from tens of thousands of machines a year to millions. Micro companies were suddenly worth $1 billion dollars and their employees were millionaires. Hundreds of companies launched hundreds of machines - the 1980 "Guide to Small Business Systems" contained details of 900 different and largely-incompatible systems. Price wars were started, old scores were settled and companies were destroyed. 8 bits made way for 16 and 32 in the space of a few years. The video games market surged and then collapsed in on itself, taking out Atari and Coleco. For a while Britain led the world in manufacture and adoption, with 80% of all computers sold in Europe being sold in the UK. Then the 8-bit market reached saturation and more companies imploded - Sinclair was sold for its name and assets only, Acorn almost didn't make it and a raft of also-rans fell by the wayside - Camputers, Dragon Data, Elan, Oric and Jupiter Cantab to name but a few. Of the 179 companies in these adverts, only 17 remain, of which 15 are the TI's, BASFs, Sanyos and Yamahas for whom micros were only ever a sideline. Arguably none, including Apple, survive as a pure computer company. Meanwhile, the sleeping giant that was IBM launched its 5150 at the end of 1981 and watched as it slowly but inevitably over the next few years became the standard. Other companies cloned it, copied and improved it and soon the only game in town was the IBM PC. From the latter half of the 1980s, every micro company and its dog was building generic beige boxes. The "wonder years" were over. This collection of nearly 300 adverts attempts to tell something of that story...
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