One could consider the first “computer” to be the abacus of ancient times. Developed around 300 BC, the abacus was used to calculate simple products. However, in my paper I will focus on the first personal computers, the ancestors of our modern PCs. Three of the first known computers designed on a somewhat personal level are the IBM 650 and the LGP-30. Both were developed in the early 60’s and were steps forward in the movement away from giant supercomputers. They are the modern ancestors of what he today knows as the PC. According to Arnold G. Reinhold, “The IBM 650 occupies a unique place in computer history. In my opinion, it deserves credit as being the earliest ancestor of the personal computer. Most computers that came before it were designed to expand the envelope of computing: bigger, faster, more bell and whistles. Often they were initially designed for large government agencies with insatiable computing needs, such as the AEC or NSA. The IBM 650, on the other hand was designed to be affordable and easy to use. And compared to what else was available in the late 1950’s it was: It only cost a half a million dollars.
It was programmed in decimal rather than binary.
Three of the first computer companies were Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Apple. HP’s history is documented on their webpage as follows: “Dave and his wife Lucile move into the first floor flat of a house at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, California. Bill rents the cottage behind the house, and Bill and Dave begin part- time work in the garage with $538 in working capital. The $538 consists of cash and a used Sears-Roebuck drill press.” Despite their humble beginnings, HP went on to become one of the most influential companies in the computer industry. Currently they employee 150,000 and have over a billion customers.
Another significant player in the development of the PC is id Software. Id Software is responsible for the development of many LANs and the existence of 3D graphics cards in almost all modern computers. According to id’s website, “It all began on May 5, 1991, when id Software, fresh off the heels of its success with the Commander Keen series of titles, gave the PC gaming world a glimpse of the future with the shareware release of Wolfenstein 3D. A shot of pure adrenaline, Wolfenstein 3D thrust gamers into a frenetic first-person universe of relentless action that would forever change the face of gaming. Widely recognized as the original first-person shooter, Wolfenstein 3D was later inducted into the Computer Gaming World “Hall of Fame” for shaping the overall direction of the video game industry. Then, on December 10, 1993, id unleashed DOOM on the world. A technically stunning opus of heart-stopping action, unspeakable horror and pure gaming bliss, DOOM heralded a paradigm shift in video games. Hardcore PC games were going mainstream. Selling millions of copies and chalking up tens of millions of downloads as shareware, DOOM remains one of the most popular PC games ever. And the title’s impact on the gaming world is still felt today. With DOOM, id Software put the shareware distribution model on the map, with the game’s runaway success owing a debt to the growth of Internet distribution shareware. The company has continued to support.