Chronology of Personal Computers

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References are numbered in [brackets], which are listed here. A number after the dot gives the page in the source.

Last updated: 2022 April 29.


1978

January
  • Apple Computer demonstrates its first working prototype Apple II disk drive at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. [218]
  • Ward Christianson and Randy Seuss begin building the Computerized Bulletin Board System, in Chicago, Illinois. [229.150]
  • In Japan, IBM Japan announces the IBM 5110 desktop system, like the IBM 5100 but supporting floppy drives, and with built-in BASIC. [902.146]
(month unknown)
  • Microsoft sells a license for its BASIC 2.0 to Tandy Corporation for the TRS-80 Model 1 computer. [949.300]
  • Dan Bricklin has an idea for a microcomputer-based spreadsheet program. (The result will be VisiCalc.) [346.101] [1056.327]
  • Dan Bricklin completes a BASIC program demonstrating his proposed spreadsheet application. [618.67]
  • Commodore International establishes a dealer network for its line of personal computers. [624.172]
February
  • The first major microcomputer bulletin board goes online, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is run by Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss. [9] [165.37] [229.150] [373.15]
March 6
  • Chris Lundberg, Sugu Aria, and Richard Desman, all top executives at IMSAI, quit their jobs. [1702.95]
March
  • The Second West Coast Computer Faire is held, in San Jose, California. [208.16] [266.183]
  • Apple Computer introduces interface cards for the Apple II computer to connect to most available printers. [1886.64]
(month unknown)
  • Exidy Systems introduces the Sorcerer Microcomputer. It uses plug-in ROMPac cartridges, and comes with 12 kB ROM with BASIC, 8 kB RAM, 79-key keyboard, and 64x30 text display. Price is around US$1100. [280.53] [714.97]
April 24
  • Fortune magazine publishes an article on ComputerLand. (As a result, calls to ComputerLand regarding franchising increases from an average three per week to 70.) [1702.96]
May
  • Intel begins production of the 8086 microprocessor. It is created by two engineers in just three weeks. Work on the processor began when it was realized that the iAPX432 project was in trouble. [231.8] [556.12]
May (month)
  • IMSAI Manufacturing makes its first US$1 million sales month, including orders in advance. [1702.107]
June 9
  • Intel introduces the 4.77 MHz 8086 microprocessor. It uses 16-bit registers, a 16-bit data bus, and 29,000 transistors, using 3-micron technology. Price is US$360. It can access 1 MB of memory. Speed is 0.33 MIPS. Later speeds included 8 MHz (0.66 MIPS) and 10 MHz (0.75 MIPS). [108] [176.74] [177.102] [216.22] [296] [447.144] [465.25] [477.124] [540.64] [62] [690.94] [879.116] [1559] (April [346.61]) (1979 [120])
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June
  • Microsoft ships Microsoft COBOL. [346.259]
  • At the Consumer Electronics Show, Apple Computer introduces the Apple Disk II, a 5.25-inch floppy disk drive linked to the Apple II by cable. Price: US$495, including controller card. [46] [203.46] [231.218] [266.227] [346.48] [1397.D5] (price US$595 [1886.64]) (July [218] [2605.13])
  • The National Computer Conference is held in Anaheim, California. Attendance is 57,240. [224.10]
  • Pertec ceases production of the Altair computer. [233.194]
(month unknown)
  • MOS Technology begins looking for buyers of its VIC (Video Interface Chip) for use on a color TV or monitor. [713.41]
  • The G2 computer software stores of the Great Records and Tapes company begins selling TRS-80 Level III BASIC. The product is Microsoft's first retail software venture. [1299.125]
  • Intel introduces the 8259A interrupt controller chip. [696.36]
  • Commodore International introduces the CBM 2020 dot-matrix printer. [713.33]
  • Commodore International introduces the CBM 2022 printer. [713.33]
  • Commodore International introduces the CBM 2023 printer. [713.33]
  • Commodore International introduces the CBM 2040 dual 5.25-inch floppy drive unit. [713.33]
  • At CII Honeywell Bull in France, Jean Ichbiah designs the Ada programming language. [912.131]
  • Tandy opens its first dedicated computer center. [34]
  • Scientific Micro Systems introduces the Signetics 8x300 microprocessor. [556.11]
  • Scott Adams founds Adventure International. [266.135]
  • Xerox donates 50 Alto computers to Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, and MIT. [263.58]
  • Apple Computer hires Chuck Peddle. [266.231]
  • Seymour Rubenstein forms MicroPro International. [266.152] [346.124] [548.432]
August
  • MicroPro International introduces WordMaster. [346.259]
  • Digital Equipment opens a retail store in a shopping mall, for selling small computer systems priced below US$10,000. [233.194]
  • Paul Terrell demonstrates the Z80-based Exidy Systems' Sorcerer microcomputer at the Personal Computing Show in Philadelphia. [268.112]
(month unknown)
  • Texas Instruments introduces the TMS-4164, a single 5V 64 kB programmable memory chip. Initial price is US$125. [230.209]
  • Bob Frankston, Dan Bricklin, and Dan Fylstra sign a contract to start Software Arts, and produce an electronic spreadsheet program. [266.230] [1056.327]
  • Personal Software company software publisher Dan Fylstra loans an Apple II to Dan Bricklin to create his spreadsheet program (will be VisiCalc). [618.67]
October
  • The first Personal Computer Expo is held, in New York City. [194.178]
  • ASCII Microsoft company is formally established in Japan, by Kazuhiko Nishi as exclusive agent for Microsoft in the Far East. [1299.126]
  • The first issue of SoftSide magazine is published, for TRS-80 enthusiasts. [269.216]
(month unknown)
  • Apple Computer begins work on an enhanced Apple II with custom chips, code-named Annie. [266.231]
  • Bill Gates and Gary Kildall seriously discuss a merger of Microsoft and Digital Research, but they make no final agreement. [1149.177]
  • Apple Computer begins work on a supercomputer with a bit-sliced architecture, code-named Lisa. [266.231]
  • Chuck Peddle quits Apple Computer and returns to Commodore International. [266.231]
December
  • Christopher Curry and Herman Hauser found Cambridge Processor Unit in England. Company name soon changed to Acorn Computers. [277.24] [347.59] [2583.127] [2651.15]
  • Epson announces the MX-80 dot matrix printer. [9]
  • Automated Simulations sells its first copy of its first game, Starfleet Orion for the Commodore PET. The program was written by Jim Connelley and Jon Freeman. (The company name is later changed to Epyx.) [1532.10]
  • Atari announces the Atari 400 and 800 personal computers, both featuring the 6502 microprocessor. The Atari 800 was code-named "Colleen" during development. [9] [231.83] [252.50] (1979 [624.178])
December 31
  • Total industry sales of personal computers to date: 200,000, valued at US$500 million. [234.117] (US$300 million [252.150])
  • Shipments of floppy disks to date: 270,000. [232.107]
Year
  • Microsoft records its first US$1 million sales year. [123] [1299.128]
  • Shipments of Radio Shack TRS-80 computers during the year: 100,000, valued at US$105 million. [234.117] (US$10 million [714.91])
  • Shipments of Commodore PET computers during the year: 25,000, valued at US$20 million. [234.117]
  • Shipments of Apple Computer Apple II computers during the year: 20,000, valued at US$30 million. [234.117] (US$7.9 million [930.47]) (US$7 million [185.114] [203.8])
  • Shipments of MITS/Pertec Altair computers during the year: 3,000, valued at US$12 million. [234.117]
  • Shipments of IMSAI computers during the year: 5,000, valued at US$18 million. [234.117]
  • Number of electronic BBSs operating in the United States: 3. [247.103]

End of 1978. Next: 1979.

1947-1968 1969-1971 1972-1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008-end


A list of references to all source material is available.

Other web pages of interest:

  • Chronology of Microprocessors
  • Personal Computer References in Pop Culture
  • This Day in Personal Computer and Video Game History

  • Last updated: 2022 April 29.
    Copyright © 1995-2022 (email: ).
    URL: https://pctimeline.info/
    Link to Ken P's home page.