Chronology of Personal Computers (1976)




  • David Jackson founds Altos Computer Systems. [163.58]
  • Paul Terrell begins signing dealership agreements, allowing Byte Shop franchises to open elsewhere in the US. [266.189]
  • IMS Associates raises the price of the IMSAI 8080 computer from US$439 to US$499, so that resellers could be given a greater discount (15 percent). [1702.33]
  • Ric Weiland completes writing 6800 BASIC for Micro-Soft. [1299.88]
January 24

  • IMS Associates fires 17 employees, nearly half of its workforce. [1702.20]
(month unknown)

  • Micro-Soft licenses 6800 BASIC to MITS for a flat fee of US$31,200, to be paid US$1300 per month over two years. [1299.95]
  • MITS unveils the Altair 680b, based on the Motorola 6800 microprocessor. [192.42] [548.303]
  • Steve Wozniak offers his new computer (Apple) to Hewlett-Packard, who reject it as a non-viable product. [930.34]
  • Hewlett-Packard begins Project Capricorn, to build a computer-like calculator. (The result will be the HP-85 computer.) [266.264]
February 3

  • David Bunnell publishes in his “Computer Notes” Altair newsletter an article from Bill Gates, complaining of software piracy. [346.30] [389.28] [1149.102] [1299.91]

  • Bill Gates writes software routines for BASIC on the Altair to use diskettes for storage. [346.28] (January [1299.90])
  • Lee Felsenstein and Bob Marsh deliver the first Processor Technology Sol computer to Popular Electronics magazine publisher Les Solomon. [353.242]
(month unknown)

  • MOS Technology ships the 6502 microprocessor. The 6502 was developed by Chuck Peddle. [556.11]
  • MOS Technology announces the KIM-1 Microcomputer System, with 1 MHz 6502 CPU, 1 kB RAM, 2 kB ROM monitor, 23-key keypad, LED readout, cassette and serial interfaces, for US$245. [193.14] [261.304] (1975 [9])
March 1

  • Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs finish work on a computer circuit board, that they call the Apple I computer, which uses a standard keyboard for input, and standard television for output. [46] [1886.64] [2605.5]

  • IMS Associates raises the price of the IMSAI 8080 computer from US$499 to US$599, so that resellers could be given a greater discount (25 percent). [1702.33]
March 26

  • The First Annual World Altair Computer Convention is held, at the Airport Marina Hotel near Albuquerque, New Mexico, over three days. This is the first such convention for the microcomputer industry. At the conference, Bill Gates explains his position on software piracy. In the hotel’s penthouse suite, Processor Technology holds its own “booth” to promote their 4 kB memory boards for the Altair. [123] [266.46] [346.31] [1149.104] [1299.93]

  • Paul Terrell incorporates Byte, Inc. [266.189]
  • Intel introduces the 5 MHz 8085 microprocessor. Speed is 0.37 MIPS. It uses 6500 transistors, based on 3-micron technology. It supports an 8-bit bus, and operates on a single 5-volt power supply. [62] (1978 [120])
(month unknown)

  • Bill Gates offers to sell all rights and ownership of his 8080 BASIC to Ed Roberts and MITS for about US$6500. Roberts declines the offer. [1149.102]
April 1

  • Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Gerald Wayne incorporate the Apple Computer Company, on April Fool’s Day. Ownership is split 45/45/10, respectively. [9] [46] [140] [218] [606.18] [1112.138] [1298.187] [1886.64] [2245.14] [2605.6]

  • Paul Terrell orders 50 fully assembled Apple computers for $500 each from Steve Jobs, for his Byte Shop. [2605.7] (July [266.213])
April 6

  • Steve Jobs arranges a 3-month loan for Apple Computer of $5000. [2605.7]
April 12

  • Apple Computer co-founder Ron Wayne sells his share for US$800. [1112.138] [2605.7]

  • Stephen Wozniak demonstrates the Apple I at the Homebrew Computer Club. [266.xv] [1886.64]
  • David Bunnell’s Computer Notes Altair newsletter publishes Bill Gates’ “A Second and Final Letter” article on software piracy. [346.32] [1149.106]
  • Microsoft hires its first permanent programmer, Marc McDonald. [346.34] [1149.108] [1299.96]
  • National Semiconductor releases the SC/MP 8-bit microprocessor, providing early advanced multiprocessing. [32] [556.11]
April 28

  • Steve Wozniak requests a release from employer Hewlett-Packard for his new Apple computer. [2605.8]
(month unknown)

  • The term “personal computer” first appears in print, in the May issue of Byte magazine. [1056.372]
  • Gary Kildall and wife Dorothy McEwen found Intergalactic Digital Research. (The name is soon shortened to Digital Research.) [266.xv] [346.51] [346.280] [994.ss48] [1149.175]
May 5

  • Hewlett-Packard grants a release to Steve Wozniak for his Apple computer. [2605.8]

  • In Japan, IBM Japan announces the IBM 5100 desktop system, with 5-inch monochrome display. Price is about US$10,000. [902.146]
  • Digital Research copyrights the CP/M operating system. [41]
  • The Trenton Computer Festival is held, in New Jersey. [266.180]

  • Western Digital introduces the MCP-1600 3-chip CPU. [32]
  • Texas Instruments introduces the TMS9900, the first 16-bit microprocessor. The microprocessor implements the 16-bit architecture used on the TI 990 minicomputer. [32] [556.11]
  • Wang Laboratories announces a word-processing system using advanced computer technology, rather than traditional electromechanical devices. The price is US$30,000, more than twice that of the most expensive competitor’s word-processor. [716.175]
  • At the PC ’76 conference at the Shelbourne Hotel in Atlantic City, Processor Technology unveils the Sol-20 microcomputer. The Sol-20 uses an Intel 8080 processor, and is sold in a kit form. [205.20] [266.116] [353.242]
(month unknown)

  • Microsoft licences 8080 BASIC to General Electric, for US$50,000. Half of the fee is paid to MITS. [1299.101]
  • In the USSR, the Elektronika S5-11 microcomputer is introduced. [949.356]
  • Advanced Micro Devices and Intel sign a patent cross-license agreement, giving Advanced Micro Devices the right to copy Intel’s processor microcode and instruction codes. [141] [659.7] [752.1]
  • Xerox management rejects two proposals to market the Alto computer. [716.174]
  • Wang Laboratories updates the Wang WPS word processor, adding a CRT display, a large disk storage, and a fast letter-quality printer. [33] [202.185]
  • At Xerox, John Ellenby proposes they build the Alto III, to be marketed as an advanced word processing system. The proposal is shelved. [716.206]
  • Processor Technology releases VDM, a video display module. It works on the Altair, IMSAI, Sol, Polymorphic computers, and any other with an S-100 bus. [266.133]
  • Dynalogic of Canada creates its own advanced microcomputer. [615.170]
  • Gary Kildall grants a license to CP/M to GNAT Computers for US$90. [346.51]
  • Kentucky Fried Computers is founded. [266.xv]
  • Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” TV show features the Sol computer, playing a game called “Target”. [353.243]
  • IMS is renamed IMSAI. [647.95]
  • John Martin sells Bill Millard on the idea of a chain of computer stores. Bill promises John shares in the company in exchange for the idea. (The chain later becomes ComputerLand.) [647.95]
  • U.S. Robotics is founded, in Skokie, Illinois. [235]
  • Chuck Peddle designs the Commodore PET. [713.29]
  • Steve Wozniak proposes that his employer Hewlett-Packard create a personal computer. The idea is rejected. [9] [2605.5]
  • Steve Jobs proposes that his employer Atari create a personal computer. The idea is rejected. [9] [2605.5]
  • Lore Harp and Carole Ely form Vector Graphic Incorporated in Los Angeles, California, selling memory boards for S-100 bus systems. [202.201] [930.124]
  • George Morrow founds the MicroStuf company. [266.xv]
  • The first issue of Dr. Dobbs magazine is published. [266.xv]
  • IMSAI begins shipping the IMSAI 8080 microcomputer. [266.48]
  • Polymorphic Systems introduces the Polymorphic 8800. It is the first microcomputer with an interface for a video monitor, a connection for a cassette tape recorder, and its basic operating system in ROM. [266.48] [714.83]
  • The bus of the Altair is named (or renamed) the S-100 bus. [266.48]
  • An IBM senior staff planning exercise forecasts the personal systems market in the 1990s would be worth US$100 billion. [606.83]

  • The Apple I computer board is sold in kit form, and delivered to stores by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Price: US$666.66. [46] [218] [593.350]
  • IMS Associates releases its first single-sided disk drive, the FDC 1. [1702.45]
  • Zilog releases the 2.5 MHz Z80, an 8-bit microprocessor whose instruction set is a superset of the Intel 8080. [32] [202.168] (early 1975 [9]) (1975 [556.11]) (1975 December [346.257] [1038.150])

  • Paul Terrell receives his order of 50 Apple computers. [266.213]
  • iCOM advertises their “Frugal Floppy” in BYTE magazine, an 8-inch floppy drive, selling for US$1200. [9]
  • In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Personal Computing Festival is held. Several computer hobbyist clubs hold their first convention there. [185.111] [266.181]
  • Steve Wozniak begins work on the Apple II. [266.218]
  • Steve Wozniak has a working prototype of what will later be the Apple II. [2605.9]
(month unknown)

  • Steve Jobs shows the Apple II prototype to Commodore Business Machines representatives, offers to sell company for $100,000 cash, stock, and $36,000 per year salaries for himself and Steve Wozniak. No deal can be reached. [2605.9]
September 21

  • Computer Shack is incorporated, created by William Millard. (The name is later changed to ComputerLand, due to objections from Radio Shack.) [266.xv] [1702.48,233] (ComputerLand is incorporated [647.95])
October 1

  • Harry Margolis, Robert Dunnett, and Ondrej Kojnok formally incorporate IMSAI Manufacturing Corporation. [1702.49]

  • Commodore Business Machines buys MOS Technology for US$800,000. [261.304] [266.49] [548.302] [624.172] [824] [1299.100] [2605.10] [2636.248] (1978 [1061.D6])
  • Mike Markkula, ex-marketing wizard at Intel, visits Steve Jobs’ garage, to see the Apple computers. [266.215] [930.34]
  • Steve Wozniak decides to remain at Hewlett-Packard, but is soon convinced that he should leave and join Apple Computer permanently. [266.218] [2605.10]

  • The tradename “Microsoft” is registered. [123] [389.28]
  • ComputerLand opens a pilot store in Hayward, California, as a retail outlet and a training facility for franchise owners. [266.194] [346.258] [548.433]
  • Paul Allen resigns from MITS. [266.50] [346.35] [1149.110] [1299.103]
  • Paul Allen begins full time work at Microsoft. [346.35] [1149.110] [1299.103]
(month unknown)

  • At Xerox, the Display Word Processing Task Force recommends that Xerox produce an office information system like the Alto. Code-name for the project is Janus. The result will be the Star computer. [716.230]

  • Bill Gates drops out of Harvard, to devote his full attention to Microsoft. [346.35] (January 1976 [1149.110])
December 3

  • Pertec Computer signs a letter of intent to acquire MITS for US$6 million of stock. [1299.101]

  • Ed Faber leaves IMSAI Manufacturing. [1702.90]
  • Michael Shrayer completes writing the Electric Pencil word-processing program for microcomputers. [9] [266.148] [346.258] [662.33] (1975 [1112.144])
  • Shugart Associates announces its Model SA400 5.25-inch “minifloppy” disk drive for US$390. Disk capacity is 110 kB. The disk size is based on a cocktail napkin which a customer requested, rather than the usual eight inch size. [9] [346.29] [363.46] [264.50] [346.258] [1084.396]
  • Dick Wilcox demonstrates his Alpha Micro, a multi-user CPU board, at a meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club. [266.116]
  • Don French and Steve Leininger are given official approval to develop and sell a microcomputer for Radio Shack. [266.197] [548.413]
  • Steve Wozniak and Randy Wigginton demonstrate the first prototype Apple II at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting. [353.254]
December 31

  • To date, MITS has shipped over 10,000 Altair 8800 kits. [208.67]

  • Personal computer market share: MITS 25%, IMSAI 17%, Processor Technology 8%, SWTP 8%. Smaller companies include The Digital Group, Polymorphic, Ohio Scientific, Cromemco, MOS Technology. [1299.101]


End of 1976. Next: 1977.

1947-1968 1969-1971 1972-1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
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