The Computer Revolution: From Room-Sized to Pocket-Sized

By Sophia Maddox | May 8, 2024

In 1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak Introduce Apple I to the World

Computers are an integral part of life. People use them to communicate with people who are important to them at work and home. Many people look up information that they want to learn on a computer. Others watch movies, play games or entertain themselves using computers. From early morning to late night, people rely on computer systems to help them stay organized.

While it is hard for most people to imagine life without computers, it hasn't always been that way. Here's a look at how people developed computers and their operating programs. Along the way, meet some people who influenced their development. You'll discover how computers went from filling entire rooms to being small enough to fit in your pocket.

 

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Steve Wozniak designed the Apple I computer and, along with his friend Steve Jobs, founded Apple to sell it. The computer was unique because it contained video display terminal circuitry and a keyboard interface on a single board, which allowed users to see visual displays on a composite video monitor instead of an expensive computer terminal. Wozniak debuted the computer at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California, in July 1976. Still, the pair had to wait until they had 50 orders to order the parts on credit and start producing them.

Wozniak started building the prototype before he could afford its central processing unit, which cost about $175. He completed the project after MOS Technology released a $25 processor.

The World's First Dynamic Random Access Memory Computer, the Intel 1103, Transforms the Industry

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In 1969, William Regitz of Honeywell started contacting companies looking for someone to share in developing a dynamic memory circuit containing a three-transistor cell that workers had developed. After being turned down by several companies, Intel became excited about the project and assigned Joel Karp to work with Regitz.

After developing the 1X, 2Y cell and creating the Intel 1102, Intel officials decided that a 2X, 2Y cell would work better, leading to the release of the 1103 in October 1970. This allowed manufacturers to move away from bulky magnetic-core random access memory and to refine previous transistor-based memory cell designs. R.H. Dennard, who designed the one-cell transmitter, said the development of this cell "allowed RAM to become very dense and inexpensive. As a result, mainframe computers could be equipped with relatively fast RAM to act as a buffer for the increasing amount of data stored on disk drives. This vastly sped up the process of accessing and using stored information."