1977 was the year of the personal computer. Known as the year of the “trinity”, 1977 saw the introduction of three popular and widespread personal desk computers: the Apple II, the TRS-80 and the Commodore PET. All three included a screen and keyboard configuration, based on a single board, and designed to be user friendly and simple to operate. By 1982 both the PET and TRS-80 had discontinued production, shipping some 1.5 million and 1 million units respectively. The Apple II continued production right until 1993 reaching some 4 million computers sold.
As the trinity models were becoming yesterday’s news, IBM launched the IBM Personal Computer in 1981. IBM’s successful launch of the model 5150 would become the PC industry’s standard from that point on, defining all future technology in terms of compatibility with IBM – with Apple being the only true competitor which remained incompatible with IBM’s standard.
The model 5150 and subsequent models became an instant success, with demand quickly exceeding supply. The IBM PC had finally punched through to the widespread audience, offering a powerful, friendly computer for an accessible price – and thus defining the PC revolution. IBM’s models were initially based on the 8088 CPU with a 4.77 MHz processor, replaced with the 6 MHz Intel 286 CPU in 1984.
Alongside IBMs market lead, the Commodore 64 was introduced around the same time marketed for a more affordable price, subsequently achieving 17 million computers sold in its 9 years of production (a world record for a single model). In that time period it had dominated the low-end computer market with a 1 MHz processor and 64 bit memory.
Personal computers were a far cry from previous mainframe computers in terms of processing ability and especially in size, transforming computers that were set in a room and measured in square feet to compact computers that fit on a single desk measuring around 4”x15”x17” – depending on the model and not including screen and input devices.
Personal Computer steadily grew in popularity with ongoing advances in hardware and software, making the computer more reliable, powerful and comfortable to use. The PC had dominated the western world from the mid-80s up until the 2000s reaching 1 billion installed computers in 2008, twice as much as in 2002.