Chronology of Personal Computers

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Last updated: 2022 April 29.


1986

January
  • Microsoft releases MS-DOS 3.2. It adds support for 3.5-inch 720 kB floppy disk drives. [130] (December 1995 [146]) (March [346.254])
  • At the Winter CES, Berkeley Softworks introduces the GEOS graphical operating system for the Commodore 64. [814.38] (spring [804.19]) (April [817.43] [1999.43]) (1984 [909.236])
  • Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh Plus. It features a 8 MHz 68000 processor, 1 MB RAM, SCSI connector for hard drive support, a new keyboard with cursor keys and numeric keypad, and an 800 kB 3.5-inch floppy drive. Price is US$2600. It is the first personal computer to provide embedded SCSI support. [46] [75] [120] [140] [180.222] [203.68] [346.167] [346.268] [593.350] [597.94] [611.41] [750.49]
  • John Sculley becomes chairman of Apple Computer. [75]
  • Compaq Computer reports third year revenues of US$503.9 million, a U.S. business record. [113]
  • Microsoft buys Cytation, which is producing the Bookshelf CD-ROM software for Microsoft. [1299.338]
  • Acorn Computers launches the BBC Master 128 computer, with 65C02 processor, numeric keypad, cartridge slots, ROM with BASIC, word processing, and spreadsheet, and 3.5-inch floppy disk support. [2651.18]
  • The first issue of Your Sinclair magazine is issued, in the UK. [1391.250]
  • Lotus Development announces it would support Microsoft Windows with future product releases. [1133.22]
  • Microsoft releases MS-DOS 3.25. [346.268]
  • Two months after releasing Microsoft Windows, Microsoft has shipped 35,000 copies. [1133.22]
January 17
  • NeXT and Apple Computer reach an out-of-court settlement on Apple's lawsuit against Next. Next agrees to not use Apple technology. [734.99] [930.335] [2605.158]
January 19
  • The first virus program for the IBM PC appears, called the Brain. It infects the boot sector of 360 kB floppy disks. [1230.56] [1805.23] (1987 [1260.193])
January 21
  • IBM announces the IBM RT Personal Computer, using RISC-based technology from IBM's "801" project of the mid-70s. It is one of the first commercially-available 32-bit RISC-based computers. The base configuration has 1 MB RAM, a 1.2 MB floppy, and 40 MB hard drive, for US$11,700. (With performance of only 2 MIPS, it is doomed from the beginning.) [31] [116] [205.114] [329.129] [1311] [1391.D1]
January
  • Apple Computer releases System 3.0 operating system for the Macintosh. It includes RAM cache, Hierarchical File System, and laser printer support. [1559] [1648.54] [1886.67] [1897.128]
January 28
  • PC magazine changes name to PC Magazine. [2443.54]
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(month unknown)
  • Control Data releases the VisiOn Applications Manager 2.0. [909.236]
February 3
  • Microsoft registers with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and underwriters send out 38,000 50-page copies of a prospectus of the company, in preparation for first selling stock to the public. [1149.325]
February
  • Compaq Computer introduces the Compaq Portable II. [108]
  • Sinclair Research releases the ZX Spectrum 128 personal computer in the UK. It features new sound system with 3 channels and 7 octaves, 128K RAM, new 128 BASIC, joystick ports, RS-232C serial port, and MIDI out port. [2287.95] [2584.14]
  • Microsoft releases a French version of Microsoft Windows 1.02. [346.268]
  • Sony and Philips announce a tentative specification of compact disk-interactive (CD-I). [814.40]
  • The first issue of Amazing Computing magazine for users of the Commodore Amiga is published. [2011.180]
  • Seattle Computer Products files a lawsuit against Microsoft in King County Superior Court in Washington state, over SCP's royalty-free MS-DOS distribution license, wanting to transfer it to another company. SCP seeks Microsoft's acknowledgement of SCP's right to transfer the license, or for Microsoft to turn over DOS revenues and declare their agreement null and void. SCP seeks US$20 million in damages. (By the end of the year, Microsoft settles out of court, paying US$925,000 to buy back the license.) [1149.342] [1299.311]
  • Microsoft urges MS-DOS program developers to adopt the programming rules of Windows, to ensure they work under future versions of DOS and Windows. [1133.22]
February 19
  • Activision makes a deal to acquire Infocom for US$7.5 million in cash and stock. [241.14] [243.52] [705.46] [1524.24]
(month unknown)
  • Tandy debuts the Tandy Color Computer, with 64 kB RAM. It is the successor to the Color Computer 2. [1133.21]
March 13
  • Microsoft first sells shares to the public, on the New York Stock Exchange, for US$25.75 per share. The initial public offering raises US$61 million. [75] [123] [346.220] [346.268] [389.28] [1149.329] [1897.128] (US$21 per share [1526.84]) (December [909.231])
March 17
  • Tim Paterson of Falcon Technology writes to Microsoft, indicating an intent to sell its royalty-free DOS license. Microsoft replies indicating a willingness to buy back the license. [1299.311]
March
  • Apple Computer acquires rights to publish a French database program, 4th Dimension, in the US. [617.4]
  • In Seattle, Washington, Microsoft hosts the First International Conference on CD-ROM. [58] [123] [1299.336]
  • IBM begins shipping the IBM RT PC. [117] [606.48]
April 2
  • IBM introduces the IBM PC Convertible laptop computer. It features 80C88 processor, 256 kB RAM, LCD screen, and two 3.5-inch 720 kB floppy disk drives. The detachable LCD screen can be replaced by a high-resolution monitor. Weight is 12 pounds; price is US$2000; size is 14 x 12 inches. [35] [41] [109] [116] [120] [146] [1311] [1393.D1]
  • IBM announces a new version of the IBM PC AT, with an 8 MHz 80286 processor. [117] [120] [1311] [1393.D1]
April
  • IBM discontinues the IBM Portable PC. [117]
  • Jim Manzi is named chief executive officer of Lotus Development Corp. [217]
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Word 3.0 for DOS. [346.131] [502.49]
  • Compaq Computer joins the Fortune magazine Fortune 500 list, faster than any company in history. [113]
  • Compaq Computer ships its 500,000th personal computer. [113] [154.32]
  • Apple Computer discontinues the original Macintosh. [597.94]
  • Apple Computer discontinues the Macintosh 512K. [46] [75] [597.94]
  • Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh 512K Enhanced, for US$2000. It features an 8 MHz 68000 processor, 512 kB RAM, and 800 kB 3.5-inch floppy drive. [46] [75] [597.94]
  • Satellite Software International changes its name to WordPerfect Corporation. [109] [330.116]
  • Microsoft agrees to buy the assets of Falcon Technology, including a royalty-free DOS license, for about US$1 million. [1299.311]
(month unknown)
  • Commodore introduces the Commodore 1700, a 128 kB RAM expansion module for the Commodore 128, for US$199. A 512 kB Commodore 1750 sells for US$299. [802.73]
May
  • Microsoft opens a subsidiary company in Japan. [1149.333]
  • Apple Computer creates KanjiTalk software to recognize two-byte characters required for Japanese language use with the Macintosh OS. [1295.9]
  • IBM ships TopView 1.1. [130]
(month unknown)
  • AT&T creates the first silicon fabrication of its CRISP architecture CPU, incorporating 172,163 transistors, and operating at 16 MHz. [660.6]
June 1
  • The Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held in Chicago. [805]
June
  • At the Summer CES, Commodore announces the Commodore 64C, bundled with GEOS. [804.19] [805]
June 10
  • IBM and Microsoft sign a Joint Development Agreement on operating system software development. (They announce the agreement in August.) [1299.285]
June 11
  • Paramount Pictures releases the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off to theaters in the USA. An IBM PC personal computer appears in a bedroom and in an office. [2344]
June 13
  • Activision makes the final payment in acquiring Infocom. [1524.24]
(month unknown)
  • NexGen is founded. [206.30]
  • Amstrad takes over the Sinclair Research computer operation, in England. [499.22] [2584.14]
  • Microsoft purchases Dynamical Systems Research, maker of a TopView clone called Mondrian, for US$1.5 million in Microsoft stock. Microsoft makes the purchase for TopView compatibility in Windows. [45] [1299.314]
  • Software Publishing introduces the Harvard Graphics presentation graphics software for DOS. It is the first such product in its field. [1059.100]
  • Inmos releases the T800 Transputer, a RISC processor with integrated floating-point capabilities. [556.24]
  • Aldus begins developing the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) specification. [777.371]
  • Adobe introduces Adobe Illustrator, a PostScript drawing tool, for the Macintosh. [618.226] (1987 [1077.136])
  • Toshiba releases the T1000 laptop PC. [909.230]
  • Ashton-Tate acquires the Decision Resources company. [650.74]
  • Gateway 2000 ships its first PC. [183]
  • NexGen begins work on the design of a fifth generation x86 processor, called the F86. [206.96] [659.9]
  • Work begins on the SCSI-2 device interface standard. [543]
  • The Small Computer System Interface (SCSI-1) standard is finalized as ANSI X3.131-1986. Performance on an 8-bit bus is about 3 MBps (asynchronous), to over 5 MBps (synchronous). [542.111] [543] [708.44] [1038.202] [1158.247]
  • AT&T produces a 32-bit CISC processor, the WE32100. [660.1]
  • The Massachussettes Institute of Technology releases the X v10.4 windowing system. [707.207]
  • Phil Katz creates the PKZip/PKUNZip programs for creating compressed file archives on PC computers. [1055.18]
  • At the World Microcomputer Chess Championship, the Coffeehouse Chess Monster software is deemed the best personal computer chess program. [241.72]
  • Data East files a lawsuit against Epyx, claiming Epyx's World Karate Championship game violates Data East's copyrights on Karate Champ. (In 1987 a court rules for Data East, but in 1988 an appeals court rules in favor of Epyx.) [817.21] [2636.368]
  • Activision acquires the Gamestar company. [817.34]
  • Microsoft buys Falcon Technology's assets for US$1 million, just to get the royalty-free DOS distribution license it was granted in 1982. [1149.342]
  • Microsoft releases QuickBASIC 2.0. [1299.324]
  • Commodore Business Machines releases Transformer software for the Amiga, which, along with the Commodore 1020 5 1/4-inch disk drive, provides limited MS-DOS compatibility. [2010.32]
  • Electronic Arts releases Deluxe Video desktop video software for the Amiga. [441.57]
  • Electronic Arts releases the Racing Destruction Set software for personal computers in the USA. [2229.118]
  • The MSX 2 personal computer is released in the UK. [2287.93]
  • The BBC Microcomputer models are discontinued in the UK. [2583.126]
July
  • Byte by Byte releases Sculpt 3-D for the Amiga, the first 3-D modelling program to ship for the Amiga. [442.35] [1145.35]
  • Apple Computer discontinues the Macintosh XL. [75]
  • In New York, IBM informs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer that TopView would no longer be part of CP DOS (OS/2). [1299.321]
  • Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development, resigns. [346.280] [548.429] [618.158] [2430.36]
  • Jim Manzi is appointed chairman of Lotus Development. [217]
July 22
  • Software Publishing introduces the PFS:Professional Series, consisting of a word processor (US$199), a database filing system (US$249), and a spreadsheet program (US$249), and the PFS:First Choice software incorporating basic versions of all three functions for beginners, for US$149. [1394.D4]
August
  • Intel ships the 80386 processor. [31] [108]
  • Microsoft announces Microsoft Works software for the Macintosh. [346.268]
August 22
  • IBM and Microsoft announce a Joint Development Agreement for operating system development. The agreement was signed in June. [1299.285]
(month unknown)
  • Home computer market share: IBM 12%, Commodore 31%, Apple Computer 16%, Atari 14.7%, Tandy 9.5%, Leading Edge 1%. [154.36]
September
  • Advanced Logic Research announces the first Intel 80386-based PC, the Access 386 PC. [16] [620.123] [909.231] [1256.145]
September 9
  • At the Palladium in Manhattan, New York, Compaq Computer introduces the Compaq Deskpro 386, the first 80386-based personal computer offered by a major computer manufacturer. The Model 40 features a 16 MHz Intel 80386 and 40 MB hard drive, for US$6449. The Model 130 has a 130 MB hard drive, for US$8799. [31] [41] [108] [117] [203.87] [346.197] [346.269] [620.123] [1149.347] [1256.145] [1397.D5] [1398.D5]
September 15
  • Apple Computer introduces the Apple IIGS computer. It features a 16-bit Western Design Center W65C816 microprocessor operating at 1 MHz or 2.8 MHz, 7 expansion slots, built-in ports, QuickDraw II in ROM, Apple Desktop Plus, and Apple 3.5 Drive. Compatibility with Apple II software is about 90 percent. Base price is US$1000, with a full system priced at US$1900. "GS" stands for Graphics and Sound. [46] [75] [120] [199.1] [218] [593.350] [1399.D1] [2605.19]
September
  • Quote by Jeffrey Ehrlich, a personal computer manager for the General Electric Company: "Apple is positioned for the future. The IBM machine is not.". [1399.D3]
  • Apple Computer releases AppleWorks 2.0. [218]
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Works for the Macintosh. [1299.328]
  • Apple Computer introduces the Apple 3.5 drive for the Mac and the Apple IIGS. [218].
  • In the UK, Acorn Computers introduces theBBC Master Compact computer, with built-in 3.5-inch floppy drive. [2651.18]
  • IBM announces the IBM PC-XT Model 286, with 640 kB RAM, 1.2 MB floppy drive, 20 MB hard drive, serial/parallel ports, and keyboard for US$4000. [35] [109] [116] [117] [120] [1311]
  • IBM debuts a new desktop model of the IBM RT Personal Computer. [1311]
September 18
  • Motorola announces the Motorola 68030 microprocessor. It incorporates about 300,000 transistors. [16] [423.136] [1400.D2]
October
  • WordPerfect ships WordPerfect 4.2 for US$500. [330.109] [502.49]
  • Microsoft releases MS-DOS 4.0 to Wang Laboratories in the US, and to ICL outside the US. It features multitasking of two applications within 640 kB RAM. (This is not the same as DOS 4.0 released by IBM in 1988.) [1299.324]
  • The first AmiEXPO trade show is held, in New York City. [442.37] [1145.37]
  • Ashton-Tate ships the one millionth copy of dBase. [346.269]
October 27
  • In New York City, Microsoft announces Microsoft Word 3.0 for the Macintosh. [346.139,269]
(month unknown)
  • Batteries Included releases the PaperClip II word processor for the the Commodore 64. Price is US$79.95. It includes spell checker and telecommunications capabilities. [2000.65]
  • Software Publishing Corporation introduces Harvard Presentation Graphics for the PC. [109]
November
  • The COMDEX trade show is held. [222.24]
  • At the Comdex show, Borland International announces Turbo BASIC. [1299.327]
  • Lotus Development releases a French version of Lotus 1-2-3 v2.0 in France. [346.118]
  • Computer Reseller News names Bill Gates the "Most Influential Executive". [909.230]
November 26
  • Paramount Pictures releases the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home to theaters in the USA. An Apple Computer Macintosh Plus is used to graphically depict a complex metal formula. A person from the future who travels back to 1986 tries to talk into the mouse of the computer. [1577.31] [1886.67] [2086]
November
  • The lawsuit of Seattle Computer Products versus Microsoft over its royalty-free MS-DOS distribution license goes to trial. (After three weeks in court, Microsoft settles out of court, paying US$925,000 to buy back the license.) [1149.342] [1299.313] (1985 [41])
(month unknown)
  • At Microsoft, Steve Ballmer tries to convince Bill Gates to abandon Windows and put full emphasis on Presentation Manager for OS/2. Bill Gates decides against it. [1149.348]
  • The 4th World of Commodore show is held, in Ontario, Canada. 38,000 people attend. [1116.8]
December
  • Number Nine introduces the Pepper Pro1280 graphics card. It features a 50 MHz Texas Instruments TMS 34010 processor, and 1.25 MB of video RAM. [1084.189]
  • WordPerfect ships the WordPerfect software for the Apple IIgs for US$180. [330.109]
December 16
  • Microsoft agrees to buy back seven licensing agreements from Seattle Computer Products for US$925,000, in an out-of-court settlement. SCP had sought US$60 million in damages. [1401.D4] (December 15 [1299.314])
Year
  • Market share of personal computers for the year: IBM 40-44.3%, Compaq Computer 16.5%. [203.27] [1299.348]
  • Current installed base of personal computers in the US: 30 million. [1897.128]
  • Percent of US homes with personal computers: 16.6%. [214]
  • Shipments of Commodore 128 computers: 1 million. [814.6]
  • Worldwide spreadsheet software sales: 1,293,000 units. [627.73]
  • Market share of spreadsheet software for the year: Lotus 1-2-3 62%. [627.73]

End of 1986. Next: 1987.

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.