This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Society Transformed

computer-machine-of-the-year-1982December 26, 1982: Computer Named “Man of the Year”

Time Magazine awards its “Man of the Year” award to the personal computer, calling it “Machine of the Year,” the first non-human to receive the award since its creation in 1927.

In the article, “The Computer Moves In”, Time writes that in the fairly near future 80% of Americans expected that home computers would be as common as television sets. And that its capabilities would be almost indefinitely multiplied by connecting to a network of other computers which could access electronic databases or send electronic mail. Imagine that!

Altair 8800

Altair 8800

The Computer beat out other candidates such as Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher. Time stated that, “There are some occasions, though, when the most significant force in a year’s news is not a single individual but a process, and a widespread recognition by a whole society that this process is changing the course of all other processes.”

24,000 PC’s were sold in 1980. This figure doubled in 1981 and doubled again in 1982. Anybody paying attention at the time recognized that the PC was transforming society.

Apple II

Apple II

When Time put out this issue the PC revolution was still young.  Most homes did not have a PC.  But looking back, the article captures not so much the beginning of the PC area but the end of the beginning. It wasn’t that young: The MITS Altair 8800, the first PC that mattered, came out in 1975. In 1977, it was followed by the

Commodore PET

Commodore PET

Apple II, Commodore’s PET 2001 and Radio Shack’s TRS-80, the first truly consumer, ready-to-use machines. And another half-decade of evolution occurred before TIME commemorated the PC’s arrival so memorably.

Radio Shack TRS-80

Radio Shack TRS-80

Will someone please tell me what a personal computer can do?

By the Millions it is beeping its way into offices, schools and homes Time Article:



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