Desktop Computers and How They've Grown

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    Nov 22, 2012
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In 1977 the latest in desktop computing centered around the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Translator), the Apple II and Tandy Radio Shack’s TRS-80 (“trash 80” to its loyal owners). The computers featured 8” disks, 2 drives – one for the operating system and one for data storage – and a tape drive on the Apple II. Hard drives were non-existent and monitor displays were usually black and white.

Desktop computer technology has come a long way in 35 years and there have been plenty of innovations and highlights during that time. The honor of being the first truly desktop computer goes to Xerox’s Alto computer. It was commercially marketed as the Star computer in 1973. As the forerunner to the PC of today, it had the first graphics user interface (GUI) circuitry, large internal and external storage, and a mouse. However, at $16,500, it was entirely too pricey for most consumers. While it was marketed as a mini-computer, the Star is credited with bridging the gap between mainframe and PC computers.

Up until the late 1980s, IBM dominated the PC market.  In 1987, IBM’s PS/2 with its then cutting edge 3½” floppy disks, new OS/2 operating system and improved mouse technology was the most popular desktop on the market.  At the same time, PC clones based on IBM’s technology and success began flooding the market. Many of the clones died off or were absorbed by other computer upstarts. Compaq, Gateway and HP are well known names that survived and continue to make desktops today.

Desktop computers in today’s market have come a long way in design, capability and power. Computer experts recommend consumer considerations that show how far computers have come:

  • At least 4GB of RAM memory; preferably 8GB.
  • A minimum id 1TB of hard drive space; preferably 2TB or more.
  • A multi-core CPU. Multi-core CPUs come as two or four independent CPU cores that allow the computer to independently perform operations.
  • A flat screen monitor that has the same resolution as a flat screen TV. These monitors come in sizes ranging from 17” to as large as 27” and are much easier on the eyes.

Desktop computers have clearly gone far beyond anyone’s 1977 predictions and there are even bigger changes down the road because innovation and change are exponential

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