'microcomputer' Episodes

IBM Gets Personal

     11/2/2020

This episode is not about the IBM PC. In 1981 the Personal Computer would change the world. Really, it's hard to talk about home computing without diving into it. But I've always had an issue with the traditional story. The PC didn't come out of left field, IBM had actually been trying to make a home computer for years. In 1981 those efforts would pay off, but the PC wasn't revolutionary hardware for Big Blue, it was evolutionary. So today we are looking at that run up with SCAMP, the 5100, and the Datamaster.

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What's With The Wedge? Part 1

     8/8/2021

Early home microcomputers have a very distinctive shape to them. From the Apple II and the ZX Spectrum, to the Commodore 64 and the Amiga, wedged were the order of the day. I've always wondered why that shape became so popular, and where it came from. Today we start a deep dive into that question, slowly tracing the origins of the first wedge shaped computer.
Selected Sources:
http://www.leefelsenstein.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/TST_scan_150.pdf The Tom Swift Terminal, or a Convivial Cybernetic Device
https://archive.org/details/levy-s-hackers-heroes-computer-revolution "Hackers", by Levy
http://www.s100computers.com/Hardware%20Manuals/Processor%20Technology/VDM-1%20Manual.pdf VDM-1 manual


What's With The Wedge, Part 2

     8/22/2021

This concludes my series on the distinctive shape of early home computers. In this episode we finally cover the Sol-20 itself, the first system on the market to be shaped like a wedge. More generally, we try to figure out if the Sol-20 was the progenitor of hundreds of machines that followed, or if the wedge was inevitable. For such a simple question, this has become a surprisingly complicated topic.
Selected sources:
http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2012/10/102702231-05-01-acc.pdf - Lee Felsenstein, oral history at CHM
http://www.leefelsenstein.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/I_Designed_the_Sol.pdf - Article about the Sol-20's design process
http://www.leefelsenstein.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Felsenstein-Tabloid-BW.pdf - Tom Swift Lives!
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(OldComputerPods) ©Sean Haas, 2020