Chronology of Personal Computers (1984)



July 3

  • Tramel Technology Ltd., headed by Jack Tramiel, buys a controlling interest in the Atari home computer and video game division from Warner Communications, for US$240 million in long-term notes. Warner retains Atari’s coin-operated game division and home communications venture Ataritel. [9] [30] [355.14] [360.15] [410.5] [482.D1] [713.294] [2608.15] [2635.95] [2636.268]
July 9

  • The National Computer Conference is held in Las Vegas, Nevada. [951.94]

  • ComputerLand agrees to stock Apple Macintosh computers at its stores. [930.184]
  • Six months after its introduction, 100,000 Macintosh computers have been sold. [203.65]
  • IBM introduces a new keyboard for the IBM PCjr, offering a free upgrade to all that want it. [357.79] [930.189]
(month unknown)

  • Morrow unveils the Tricep multi-user computer. It features 68000 processor, S-100 bus, Unix System V, 512 kB RAM, 16 MB hard drive, one floppy drive, 4-user capability, for a base price of US$9000. [934.9]
  • Jim Button decides to leave his US$50,000 per year job at IBM to work full-time at his US$500,000 per year Buttonware shareware hobby-turned-business. [618.245]
  • IBM announces two new IBM PC XT configurations, one with one floppy drive and no hard drive for US$2270, the other with two floppy drives and no hard drive, for US$2570. [1128.86]
  • Commodore International shelves the 364 computer. [804.18]
  • Percent of homes with computers: Great Britain 11%, United States 7%. [1209.8]
August 14

  • IBM announces the IBM PC/AT computer. It features 6 MHz 80286 processor, PC-DOS 3.0, 5.25-inch 1.2 MB floppy drive, 256 or 512 kB RAM, optional 20 MB hard drive, monochrome or color monitor. The XENIX operating system from Microsoft is also awailable. Price ranges from US$4000 to US$6700, depending on configuration. Code-name during development was Bigtop. Code-name for the computer at Microsoft was Salmon. [6] [9] [35] [41] [75] [108] [116] [120] [203.25] [346.266] [778.112] [1149.342] [1299.266] [1350.D1]
  • IBM announces the Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA), supporting up to 640×350 resolution in 16 colors. With 64K, the card costs US$524. For 640x350x16 mode, a US$200 64 kB RAM expander is required. [81] [120] [1299.268]
  • IBM announces the Enhanced Color Display monitor with 640×350 resolution, priced at US$850. [81]
  • IBM announces its PC Network local area network. Price is US$695 per computer. Code-name during development was Ringmaster. Code-name at Microsoft was Octopus. [9] [81] [1299.266] [1350.D1]
  • Microsoft releases MS-DOS 3.0 for PCs. It adds support for 1.2 MB floppy disks, and bigger (than 10 MB) hard disks. [117] [130] [146] [748.29] [1299.268]
  • Atari files a lawsuit against Amiga, claiming graphics chips used by Amiga were developed under contract for Atari. [1352.D16]

  • IBM introduces the PC/IX operating system for the IBM PC AT. The software is based on UNIX System III from AT&T.; [81]
  • IBM announces TopView, a DOS multitasking program. [35] [383.14] [618.273] [1299.269]
  • IBM announces the Professional Graphics Controller card, for US$3000. The card takes up two adjacent slots of a PC, and includes an 8 MHz 8088 chip and 384 kB of memory. [81]
  • IBM announces the Professional Graphics Display monitor, for US$1300. The 14-inch monitor will display up to 256 colors (from 4096) simultaneously at 640×480 resolution. [81]
  • Bill Gates receives the Vollum Award for achievements in science and technology from the Reed College in Portland, Oregon. [1299.251]
  • Visicorp sells VisiOn to Control Data. [484.D3] [1299.245] (August 1983 [2605.15])
  • Commodore pays off Amiga’s loan to Atari with $1 million, and purchases Amiga Corporation for $4.24 per share. [6] [9] [341.6] [713.297] [804.18] [1352.D1] [2634.139]
August 27

  • Atari announces it will soon introduce new personal computers, 8-bit to 32-bit systems, to be introduced in January. [1351.D1]
(month unknown)

  • Micro Computer Technology introduces the SpeeDemon card for the Apple II. The card makes the Apple II operate three times faster. [1209.14]
  • Sierra On-Line changes its name to Sierra. [1209.9]

  • Paladin Software acquires VisiCorp. [1128.5]
  • Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh 512K for US$3200. It uses an 8 MHz 68000 processor, and comes with 512 kB RAM, and a 400 kB 3.5-inch floppy drive. [46] [75] [582.90] [593.350] [597.94] [930.201]
  • Microsoft begins work on the Windows version of Word. [1701.333]
  • Digital Research announces its Graphics Environment Manager (GEM) icon/desktop user interface for 8086- and DOS-based computers. [9] [1639.108] (October [346.266]) (November [477.159])
  • Apple Computer gives LaserWriter printer prototypes to Lotus Development, Microsoft, and Aldus, in hopes of their developing application support for it. [618.256]
  • Compaq Computer opens a subsidiary company in France. [2132.S3.4]
September 20

  • Data General introduces the Data General / One Personal System portable computer, compatible with the IBM PC. It features MS-DOS, CP/M-86, Unix, 128 kB RAM, and one floppy drive. Weight is 10 pounds; price is US$2895. It is the first portable computer with a full-size LCD display. [1353.D4]
  • Acornsoft releases the Elite space-trading game for the BBC Microcomputer in the UK. The game is one of the first to use extensive 3D graphics. The game is open-ended, spanning eight vast universes. [2501]
September 25

  • IBM makes a major software announcement of 31 programs for its personal computers. There are two series of programs, the IBM Business Management Series, for US$695 each, and the IBM Personal Decision Series, for US$150-250 each. [1354.D8]
(month unknown)

  • IBM Japan introduces the JX personal computer in Japan. It features color graphics, and runs Japanese or English software. The computer was made for IBM by Matsushita Electric Industrial company. [1384.D3]

  • Sinclair Research releases the Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ in the UK. Main improvement over the ZX Spectrum was an improved keyboard. [2584.14]
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Word 1.15 for DOS. [346.131]
  • Microsoft gives a demonstration of the final version of Windows to IBM. For the third time, IBM is not interested. [45]
  • Tandy introduces the Tandy 1200 HD. It features a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 processor, 256 kB RAM, 8 kB ROM, MS-DOS 2.11, 12-inch green monochrome monitor, 84-key keyboard, 360 kB 5.25-inch disk drive, and 10 MB hard drive. [880.106] [1146.36]
October 25

  • Osborne Computer announces the Vixen computer. It features 64kB RAM, 25-line display, and two 390 kB disk drives. Price is US$1298. [1355.D3]
  • Osborne Computer announces the Encore computer. It features 128kB RAM, and one 390 kB disk drive. Weight is under ten pounds; price is US$2195. [1355.D3]

  • Quote by Morton Handel, executive vice-president of Coleco Industries, “We are definately not getting out of the Adam business. We are there to stay.”. (Within three months, the company abandons the home computer market entirely.) [1362.D1]
(month unknown)

  • Commodore International announces the Educator 64, using old PET cases with Commodore 64 computers inside. [804.18]
  • Commodore International sells its Santa Clara manufacturing center and closes its Dallas Research and Development center. [804.18]
  • Gavilan Computer files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. [1358.D5]
November 1

  • Toshiba announces its development of a 1-Megabit RAM chip. [1356.D14]
November 12

  • Lotus Development officially announces Jazz for the Macintosh 512K, a five-in-one application suite incorporating spreadsheet, database, graphics, word processing, and communications functions. [346.159] [1149.285] [1299.D5] [1357.D5
November 14

  • The Comdex show is held in Las Vegas, Nevada, over three days. [1358.D5] [1361.D1]
  • At the Comdex show, Sperry introduces the Sperry 5000 series of four microcomputers, running the Unix operating system. Prices range from US$15,000 to US$150,000. [1358.D5]
  • At the Comdex show, Kaypro introduces its first IBM PC compatible, the Kaypro 16. It features 256 kB RAM, floppy drive, and hard drive. Weight is 35 pounds; price is US$3295. [1358.D5]
  • At the Comdex show, Texas Instruments intrduces the TI Pro-Lite computer, with 25-line LCD screen. Price is US$2995. [1358.D5]
  • At the Comdex show, Ashton-Tate announces revised versions of dBase II and Framework. [1358.D5]

  • Altos Computer Systems introduces the Altos 186, a two-user system with a 10 MB hard drive. [880.112]
  • Altos Computer Systems introduces the Altos 486, a four-user system using the Intel 80186 processor. [880.112]
  • Altos Computer Systems introduces the Altos 986T, a nine-user system with an 80 MB hard drive, built-in tape drive, and XENIX operating system. [880.112]
  • Apple Computer buys 3.4 million shares of Adobe Systems, amounting to fifteen percent of the company, for US$2.5 million. (Apple will sell the shares for US$82 million in July 1989.) [618.220] [1299.385] [2130.D1]
  • Apple Computer launches the “Test Drive a Macintosh” promotion. About 200,000 take a Macintosh home for a free 24-hour trial. The promotion is a failure, with few new sales. [46] [2605.155]
  • Satellite Software International ships WordPerfect 4.0 for US$500. [330.108] [502.49]
  • The 2 millionth Apple II computer is sold. [46] [75] [346.267]
  • Jim Manzi is named president and chief operating officer of Lotus Development. [217]
  • Microsoft releases MS-DOS 3.1 operating system. It adds support for Microsoft networks. [130] [146] [346.254] [346.267] (March 1985 [748.29] [1897.128])
  • Atari announces that at the Consumer Electronics Show it will announce three new 8-bit computers, a 16-bit computer, a 32-bit computer, a 1200 bps modem, and a color printer. [139.137]
(month unknown)

  • NEC Home Electronics introduces the NEC PC-8401A notebook portable computer. It features 4 MHz Z80 processor, 64 kB RAM, 96 kB ROM, 68-key keyboard, 80×16 character LCD screen, 300 bps modem, CP/M operating system, word processor, spreadsheet, card filer, and telecommunications software. The system operates on four C batteries, for about 8 hours. Size is 11.8 x 8.4 x 2.8 inches; weight is 4.7 pounds; price is US$999. [139.70]
  • Datavue introduces the Datavue 25 portable computer. It features 4.8 MHz 80C88 processor, 128 kB RAM, 5.25-inch 360 kB floppy drive, IBM PC compatibility, 83-key keyboard, 80×25 character 8.8 x 3.8 inch LCD display, Microsoft DOS, and Microsoft BASIC. Size is 13 x 10.4 x 6 inches; weight is 15.2 pounds; price is US$2195. [139.85]
  • Radio Shack introduces the Tandy Model 200 notebook portable computer. It features 80C85 processor, 24 kB RAM, 72 kB ROM including Multiplan spreadsheet software, 59-key keyboard, 240×128 pixel 40×16 character LCD screen, 300 bps modem, Microsoft BASIC, text editor, telecommunications software. The system runs on AC power or four AA batteries, for 10-16 hours. Size is 11.8 x 8.5 x 2.2 inches; weight is 4.5 pounds; price is US$999. [139.64]
  • IBM introduces the IBM Quietwriter Printer. Performance is about 23 cps letter quality. Price is US$1395. [139.88]
  • Percom Data introduces the PHD-10 10 MB external hard drive for IBM PC, Apple IIe, and TRS-80 Model III. Price is US$1100 plus US$80-120 for interface. [139.101]
  • Ampere of Japan announces the Ampere portable computer. It features 80×25 character LCD display, 64 kB RAM expandable to 256 kB, 70-key keyboard, 300 bps modem, microcassette, 8 MHz 68000 processor, APL in ROM, multitasking, windowing, word processor, spreadsheet, database, telecommunications software, and three cartridge slots. Size is 12 x 12 x 3 inches; weight is 6.5 pounds. [139.137]
  • The assets of Gavilan are sold at auction for US$1.6 million. [139.14]
  • Forbes magazine declares ComputerLand chairman William Millard the 27th richest man in the US. Millard says “I am the biggest winner of all in the microcomputer industry.”. [1702.ix]

  • Radio Shack introduces the Tandy 1000, for US$1300. It uses an Intel 8088 processor and MS-DOS. [317.40] (November [880.106])
  • Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead found the Accolade software company. (Miller and Whitehead were co-founders of Activision.) [243.52] [1524.22] (January 1986 [814.35])
  • Apple Computer sells the 250,000th Macintosh system. [346.267]
December 31

  • Shipments of the IBM JX personal computer in Japan to date: about 6,000. [1384.D3]
  • Shipments of the Commodore 64 to date: 3.5 million. [1364.D5]

  • Shipments of AT&T; PC 6300 microcomputers during the year: 28,500. [1146.34]
  • World-wide shipments of Compaq computers for the year: 149,000. [113] [497.20]
  • Shipments of Macintosh computers to date: 275,000. [1368.D8]
  • Market share of personal computers for the year: IBM 63%. [203.27] (about 50% [606.55])
  • During the year, 55 personal computer magazines fail. [1146.8]
  • Worldwide spreadsheet sales for the year: 1,169,000 units. [627.73]


End of 1984. Next: 1985.

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