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

By Sophia Maddox | January 25, 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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source: reddit

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.

Meet the Architect Behind COBOL, Grace Hopper

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After graduating from Yale University with a Doctorate in Mathematics, Grace Hopper gave up a teaching career at Vassar College to join the U.S. Navy. She worked on developing the Mark I computer at Harvard University and wrote a 500-page operator's manual for the Automatic Sequence-Controlled Calculator. After World War II, she became a research fellow at Harvard University before joining Eckert-Mauchly Corporation and assisting with developing the universal automatic computer.

By the mid-1950s, businesses faced a problem applying computers to their companies. They were spending about $800,000 on programming costs and $500,000 on hardware to run them. A group convinced the United States Department of Defense to tackle the problem. Grace Hopper and others solved the problem by writing Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL), allowing computers to understand words and numbers. She based COBOL on FLOW-MATIC language, which she developed first. While being modified a few times, it became the standard program all computers use.