The History of PC Hardware in Pictures

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Computers are now an essential part of our lives, and we take for granted in our everyday. It is easy to forget that PCs have only been around for a couple of decades and initially were nowhere near to the powerhouse we have our desk today.

For example, do you know first portable computer weighed 25KG and cost close to $20,000 that and first ever laser printer was big enough to fill up a room

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In this article, we will take a look at the time of computer equipment we now take for granted and see how it looked like when it was invented.

First Computer Mouse

A mouse is essential mouse part of computer we would have tons of difficulties while pointing without a mouse but it is fortunate that we have this device. It was invented in 1963 by Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute. The first mouse used two wheels positioned at a 90-degree angle to each other to keep track of the movement. The ball mouse wasn’t invented until 1972, and the optical mouse was designed circa 1980 although it didn’t come into popular use until much later.

First Trackball

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First ever trackball was invented 11 years before the invention of the mouse in 1952 and it was created by Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff as part of computerized battlefield information system called DATAR an initiative by Canadian Navy. It used five-pin bowling ball as its trackball which is far smaller than a more common 10-pin bowling ball.

First Portable Computer

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The IBM 5100 Portable Computer introduced in 1975, and it weighed 25KG it was the size of a small suitcase and need an external power source to run. Everything was inside the package processor, RAM, ROM, Five Inch CRT display, keyboard and tape drive. The different models of the IBM 5100 sold for $8,975 – $19,975.

First Laptop

The first every laptop computer was Grid compass 1100, and it was designed in 1978 by British Industrial Designer Bill Morgridge. The Computer didn’t start selling until 1982 then it featured 320×200 screen an Intel 8086 processor 340 KB magnetic bubble memory and 1200 bps modem. It weighed 5 kg and cost $8-10,000. It was used by NASA and US military.

First IBM PC

The IBM Personal Computer was introduced in 1982 as IBM 5150. The platform became so pervasive in the 80s that although term “personal computer” has been in use since early 70s and PC became synonymous with IBM PC.

During development, IBM 5150 was referred as “Project Chess” and was created by a team of 21 people headed by Don Estridge and Larry Potter.

First, ever IBM PC has Intel 8088 processor and 64 KB of RAM a floppy disk drive MS-DOS and CGA or monochrome video card. This machine also has BASIC in ROM and 10 MB hard disk drive.

First RAM

Arguably the first (writable) random access memory was Magnetic Core Memory (also called Ferrite-Core Memory) and was invented in 1951 as a result of work done by An Wang at Harvard University’s Computation Lab and Jay Forrester at MIT.

Unlike today’s RAM, core memory could keep its information even after the power was turned off. Core memory was shared until it was replaced by integrated silicon RAM chips in the 1970s.

Closeup of core memory. Above right: The core memory plane in the picture is 16×16 cm (6.3×6.3 inches), holding 128×128 bits (2048 byte).


First Hard Disk Drive

The IBM Model 350 Disk File was the first hard disk drive and was part of the IBM 305 RAMAC computer that IBM started delivering in 1956. It had 50 24-inch discs that together could store about 4.4 MB of data. The Model 350 spun at 1200 rpm, had a data transfer rate of 8,800 characters per second and an access time of appx one second.

First Web Server

The first web server was a NeXT workstation that Tim Berners-Lee used when he invented the World Wide Web at CERN. The first web page was put online on August 6, 1991.

 “This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER IT DOWN!!”

It’s incredible how much has happened in the PC industry in just a few decades. It is yet to see how much it will change in next few years.

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63045c01f4ad860aad8ad74961a9564b - The History of PC Hardware in Pictures
Adeel Younas
Editor-in-Chief at TechWafer (previously The Tech) an Entrepreneur, Blogger, Developer, and Freelancer.

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