The history of computers is short but very complicated. Computers have been through lot of changes throughout the past half-century. They also affect our society in many different ways today. The following paper describes how the computers have changed from 1970 to present.
During 1970, Intel came out with a chip, which was the best selling semiconductor memory chip in the world. The chip was called Intel 1103 and it was first DRAM, dynamic Random Access Memory) chip. D.r. Robet H. Dennard developed it. His team and him had been working on it since 1966.
The engineers needed to build a new type of chip for a calculator in 1971. So, they came out with a chip called Intel 4004. It was the first single chip general-purpose microprocessor built bye Intel. The chip was 4-bit and ran at a rate of 108 kHz and it also contained 2300 transistors. The chip dealt with up to 1 Kb of program memory and up to 4 Kb of data memory.
In the early 70’s lot of new technology was being built. In 1973, IBM came out with the first hard disk drive. The hard disk used two 30 Mb platters. During the next decade, the hard disks were used in primary data storage, than in minicomputers and later in the early 80’s in personal computers. The first personal computer to use a hard disk was IBM PC/XT in 1983. In 1974, Gary Kildall developed CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers). It was the first operating system to run on machines. CP/M became the permanent operation system for software development on small systems, but later the personal chose not to use CP/M. In 1975, MITS Altair was the first personal computer to get attention by a lot of people. It was made of Intel’s 8-bit 8080 processor. The MITS included 256 bytes of memory, toggle switches and an LED panel.
Apple II was the beginning of the personal computers. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed the Apple II in 1977. It had a built in keyboard, graphics display and BASIC built in ROM. It was based on the MOS 6502 processor. Apple used MOS Techonology’s 6502 processor in the personal computers. It contained three 8-bit registers and an 8-bit stack pointer. It was one of the first personal computers that were useful to people and a new age of technology.
In 1981, IBM came out with a PC. “The landmark announcement of the IBM PC stunned the computing world,” (Patterson 1). It was the first PC that surprised the world with its features and speed. The IBM PC came with a 64 Kb of RAM, a floppy drive and monochrome graphics, DOS, operating system based on CP/M. The PC was based on Intel’s 8088 processor. It was a 16-bit processor, which contained 8 registers and unique segmented 20-bit memory architecture capable of addressing 1 Mb of memory. It ran at a speed of 4.77 MHz. So the first IBM PC became pretty popular during the early 80’s.
In 1982, a new computer came into the market with new technology and became very popular. “An estimated 22 million units were sold. That’s almost as many as all the Macintosh models put together, and it dwarfs IBM’s top-selling systems,” (Patterson 3). The Commodore had a 64 Kb of RAM and it was also the first personal computer with an audio synthesizer chip. In 1983, it came out with a portable version knows as the SX-64. It was the first color portable computer. It was based on the MOS 6510 and it also had fast color graphics. The Commodore was a cheap computer for the features it had and people all around the world bought it.
Later in 1984, Apple came out with a new computer called the Macintosh. The Macintosh was sold for $2495. It had 128 Kb of RAM, it also had a 3.5” floppy disk drive, which held more data than the 5.25” disks. Motorola’s 68000 processor powered it. It was a 32-bit processor and it also contained 60,000 transistors and had 16 registers. This computer became popular during the 80’s but Commodore was still dominating during the time.
During the mid 1980’s IBM came out with a new and better computer known as the IBM PC/AT. It had Intel’s fast 80286 processor that ran at 6 MHz, merged with 16-bit busses. The 80286 made the new PC/AT faster than the original PC. It came with a lot more ram 512 or 640 Kb and new floppy disks drives which could hold up to 1.2 Mb.
In the late 80’s Apple came out with a new computer known as the Macintosh II. It was first color computer by Macintosh. The color was 8 bit deep and it was also available in 24-bit. The graphics of the Macintosh II inspired Adobe to make a photo editing software called Photoshop. The Macintosh II had a 14” color monitor. The screen resolution went up to 640 x 480 and it had RAM of 64 Mb. It had a Motorola 68020 processor with 6881 FPU. It was one of the expensive computers of the time; it costs were $5498 for a standard configuration, which included 1 Mb of RAM and a 40 Mb hard disk. The Macintosh II was not a popular computer, customers complained about the price being too high.
After Steve Jobs left Apple he came up with his own computers knows as the NeXT, which was released in 1989. It had a Motorola 68040 processor; 8 Mb of RAM a built in DSP, digital signal processor and the first commercial magneto optical drive, which has 256 Mb capacity. The NeXT had some faults to it. The computer was sold for $10, 000 which was too high. Another fault in the computer was it used Objective C, a mix of C and Smalltalk instead of using C++. So it was so expensive for the consumers to by it and the use of wrong type of language.
In 1993, Intel Pentium Processor began developing and went through the industry faster than any of the previous processors by Intel. In 1994 and 1995, standard configuration of an Pentium processor ran between 60 and 120 MHz, 4-16 Mb of RAM, about 200 Mb of disk space, 8-bit 640 x 480 Super VGA graphics, a 14” color monitor, a CD-ROM drive, and ran under Windows 3.1. The cost of it was from $1800 to $2500 depending on design.
In 1994, Apple introduced a new computer known as the Power Macintosh. The new Power Macintosh 6100 had 60 MHz PowerPC 601 processor. It also included 8 Mb of RAM, 16-bit 640 x 480 graphics, 16-bit stereo, 250 Mb hard disk, a CD-ROM drive and a built in Ethernet. It also came with a 14” color monitor with built in speakers in the monitor. Its total cost of the machine was $2289.
On August 24 1995, Microsoft came out with Windows 95. Which became very popular and it was affordable for many of the families. It had full networking support; it included tolls for accessing the Internet. The operating system was 32-bit, which helped in improving the performance of the computer. Windows 95 were being advertised everywhere. They were being advertised on TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards and many other places. The PC industry became very popular when Windows 95 was releases because it was affordable and easy to use.
In the late 1990’s, the computers became very fast with higher RAM. It was 700 MHz and about 64 MB of RAM. The hard drive space also went up a lot to 15-20 GB. Which was a big improvement from the previous computers. Today the computers are extremely fast. It has reached the speed of 3.0 GHz and hard drive space up to 120 GB on personal computers. They also come with a built in DVD/CD ROM and a CD burner. The prices for all the computers today are really cheap and most of the people can afford it. Almost everyone has a personal computer in their house or their business. Computers run most of the machines being run today. For example, the computers are controlling the touch free car washes, like when to stop a certain thing and when to start it. So the computers are dominating a lot of things these days.
Therefore, computers have changed a lot during the past century. They went from 108 KHz to 3.0 GHz. That is a huge change during the past half century. Computers are going to get really advanced and really fast in the future. It is going to keep growing in the future. So the computers play a huge role today in our society all over the world.