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The Industrial Era


Microsoft's monumental error: 640Kb (see discussion)

IBM brings out an early version of an office computer. The first portable computer from Osborne. And he famous Commodore Vic 20 that sold over 20 million pieces.

The first adventure game Zork appeared a fore runner of Dungeons and Dragons.


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pointer.gif (479 bytes)The director of Canada's Radiation Protection Bureau declares that video display terminals carry no radiation hazard.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Microsoft reorganizes into Microsoft Incorporated, with Bill Gates as President and Chairman, and Paul Allen as Executive Vice President.

Later in the year the company is renamed into Microsoft Corporation.

In July Microsoft bought all rights to 86-DOS from Seattle Computer Products (system) then called QDOS - assumingly meaning Quick and Dirty Operating System, and the name PC-DOS is adopted. Soon thereafter, in August, Microsoft released their version: MS-DOS version 1 operating system. This OS used 160 Kb memory and read single sided floppy discs.(25) 
When Microsoft DOS 1.0 was released the program consisted of about 4000 lines assembler. And three programs were forming the base: command, sys, iosys. With some supplementary programs like Format(43) and Edlin(44). This tandem setup - IBM-PC en MSDOS - will soon become the international standard for micro computers.

See 2005 for more on Q-DOS

In these early years Microsoft and IBM engineers thought that a program of some ten's of kilo bytes was a big one. Later experience showed that the memory hunger of software would be unimaginable and that the 640 K barrier caused enormous problems.


Another Famous "He could not be wrong more":

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."

Bill Gates, 1981 (see discussion)


IBM did not expect financial wonders of this PC. And the experts foretold an early death. How could they be wrong more! The concept of the PC was a gigantic success but one of the most important factors was that IBM published the technical specifications.
IBM selected the 8088 CPU of Intel for its platform, this decision was primarily influenced by the high price of Motorola's 16-bits 68000 processor. (40)

ibm_datamasterpointer.gif (479 bytes)IBM introduced its first desktop computer, the Datamaster. It uses a 16-bit 8085, and was a dedicated data processing machine. Initial costs 3000U$.


pointer.gif (479 bytes)Apple Computer introduced its first hard drive, the 5MB ProFile, costing USD 3500.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Novell Data Systems shiped the Novell Data Management Computer, with the ability to share its hard drive space with other computers through software control and network cards.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)College professor James Clark founded Silicon Graphics

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Intel and Advanced Micro Devices agreed to collaborate on the design and production of new products.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Apple Computer prohibited mail-order sales of Apple computers, claiming there is no provision for customer education or services.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)The first IBM PCs rolled off the assembly lines.


ibm_xt25612th of August, IBM showed its IBM 5150 PC (personal computer) that is based on the 4.77 MHz 8 bit 8088 CPU of Intel 64KB RAM, 40KB ROM, one 5.25-inch floppy drive (160KB capacity)



pointer.gif (479 bytes)At the same time IBM introduced Microsoft's DISK OPERATING SYSTEM (MS-DOS) called PC DOS 1.0 by IBM. This program would operate the new IBM PC.

The sales price of the IBM PC was high: from 3000 to 6000 USD, depending on the configuration.

It was particular for this PC that it has been build from 'off the shelve' parts. Parts that could have different origins. Here the term OEM was introduced: meaning Original Equipment Manufacturer. In the machine could be disk drives from Japan, the CPU from Intel and memory from Samsung (Korea)

The first PC's were sold with 64Kb RAM (64.000 characters) with the option to expand to 256Kb, a very limiting memory as will be clear later. The first model of the IBM PC had a tape recorder as external memory. Only later to be replaced by 180Kb 5.25" diskdrives for an exorbitant price of 800 dollar. At left you see a 256Kb model "fully loaded". The color monitor was introduced a few years later.
The development of the IBM PC took just about a year mainly because of the spin-off of other (failed) projects.
IBM published all technical data on the ROM BIOS(45) and Operating system, choosing for a so called open architecture for their micro's. This would make it possible for other manufacturers to create"standard" MS-DOS compatible machines. These were the so called "clones". Thart this rised the question of compatibility, a big problem at that timem, left no doubt. Incompatibility was caused off course in part by patents held by different companies, such as IBM, but also by other (export) restrictions.

Xerox Star 8010

pointer.gif (479 bytes)RANK-XEROX - Intel and Digital released (in combination) the Xerox Star (8010), nick named "The Office".

"This was the system that launched a thousand innovations" will be said later on.

It is the first commercial computer with Windows, Icons, Mouse and Pull-down menu's - the so called WIMP interface. Later the term GUI(46) replaced that name
This machine meant an enormous leap forward in terms of user friendliness and the interaction of Human-Machine. The concept was good, but elements like: marketing, an extreme high price (from 18,000 US$ and up), the dependence on a network and the size of the machine (an office refrigerator) made the Xerox 8010 unwieldy for the individual user.

Again Xerox was far ahead of its time, but the consumer did not want a refrigerator (office) size machine in his office or work room

The best brains worked on the design at the now legendary laboratories of Xerox PARC(47). many of their inventions are now used on all GUI oriented machines. But the STAR did not become a success simply because of its price and size. Later on the Apple Lisa and MacIntosh interfaces would contain many of the innovations invented at Xerox's PARC.(41)

pointer.gif (479 bytes)From Japan Matsushita (known by Technics and Panasonic) released a Magnetron with a six inch screen and a tapedrive.

All kind of recipes were stored and pronounced via a voice synthesizer. One could also give commands by voice. The cooking progress could be tracked via the six inch screen. The innovation on itself was very advanced but apart from being exotically expensive, the machine was also very inept in recognizing one's voice. Many technical problems were not fully solved. It will have to wait until 2000 before a fully functional "kitchen machine" will be introduced by Siemens. (also see Honeywell'd kitchen computer in the 60's)


flight simulatorFlight Simulator is developed by SubLogic (FS-0) and in this year licenced to Microsoft via BAO (= Bruce Artwick Organization - the original designer).

flightsim 1
courtesy Microsoft, digitaly enhanced by thocp

Microsoft ports the simulator to IBM PCs (and compatibles). This version will be released in November 1982 as Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.00.

Read history of video games on the history of video games

CP/MThe developers of CP/M reacted to MS-DOS with CP/M 86. A 16 bit system and backward compatible with the 8 bit CP/M version.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)The USCD Pascal p-system is introduced.

Called an interactive Pascal interpreter that offered excellent portability for software development. Meaning that the code could be recompiled on other machines and presumingly do the same thing.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Warner Anex., Atari and CompuServe announced the cable TV information service.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)IBM's Color Graphic Adapter (CGA) video card was introduced.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Creative Technology was founded in Singapore, and will become a leading manufacturer of sound-cards.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Sony introduced the 3.5" diskette with a capacity of app. 800 Kb.

This format could not be read on a micro computer with an MS-DOS system. But it soon was the world standard storage medium for Apple and Hewlett Packard machines.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)Memory chips were getting cheaper and a 64Kb RAM chip became the defacto norm.

osborn 1apointer.gif (479 bytes)The first Portable Computer of Adam Osborne, the Osborne I, is introduced.

This computer weighed only 12 kilo and it ran on the CP/M OS. It included a Z-80 microprocessor, a 5" display, 64 Kb RAM, a keyboard, two serial ports, two 5.25" Disk Drives. The machine was relatively cheap: 1795 US$. The most important thing was that Osborne was the first to offer his machine bundled with software that valued almost 1500 US$. The package contained WordStar, Supercalc, BASIC and a lot of CP/M utility programs.

But Osborne made one crucial error in marketing: he announced the second model the Osborne II when there was still a huge stock of Osborne I types. Sales dropped dramatically and Osborne filed for bankruptcy soon after.(42)

pointer.gif (479 bytes)The famous VIC20 was released by Commodore with a full-sized 61-key plus four function keys keyboard, 5KB RAM expandable to 32KB, 6502A CPU, 22 character by 23 line text display, and color graphics.

The first color computer that is affordable costed only 300 US$. The production peaked at 9000 units per day. Phenomenal for this time! It became the first million-seller model in history.

pointer.gif (479 bytes)The first adventure game "Zork" was published.

Though the openings screen raised a big expectation the game was completely text (character) based.

It played like:






You are standing in front of a closed door. Next to it you will find a letterbox. What will you do.>_

The player had to type in his or her answer and press enter. Then the next question or suggestion came from the computer and the player typed and typed...

The fantasy of the player had to be a vivid one. But is was sure a lot more fun than Pong and Spacewar.(48)
The original 'Zork' was written in 1977-79 at the MIT (USA) by a group including Marc Blank and Dave Lebling. It was programmed in MDL but ported (translated) to FORTRAN (and renamed 'Dungeon') by Bob Supnik in 1979/80. This is a TADS port of the FORTRAN port (based on Dungeon v3.1)(49).


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