Inventing the Personal Computer

We leave the computer server room and travel outside where it is nighttime and a Chevy Nova is parked outside of a house in Menlo Park California with manicured hedges.   Inside the garage is a man building a personal computer.

Spaceship Earth scene of car outside of garage in the burbs

Spaceship Earth scene of a computer programmer working inside a messy garage

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in Cupertino CA in April ’76.  The first Apple computer deisnged by Wozniak was introduced at a meeting of hobbyist computer club in CA (1).  This computer club was the Homebrew Computer Club, founded in a Menlo Park garage by other electronics hobbyists.

Homebrew soon outgrew the garage and met in a Stanford auditorium, where engineers, hobbyists, entrepreneurs, activists, and social scientists gathered to share information, buy and trade electronics parts, and even form companies.  Homebrew was not unique. Spurred by the Altair, dozens of computer hobbyist clubs sprouted all over the country. (2).

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There are some AWESOME details in this scene that have been reviewed with exquisite rigor by the folks at Parkeology –

February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

What if everyone could have one of these amazing machines in their own house? There’s just one problem: They’re as big as a house. The solution comes in of all places, a garage in California. Young people with a passion for shaping the future put the power of the computer in everyone’s hands. Together we form a super network that goes with billions of interactions, and once again we stand on the brink of a new Renaissance.

  1. Campbell-Kelly,M., Garci-Swarz,D. (2015).  From Mainframes to Smartphones A History of International Computer Industry Cambridge & London, Harvard University Press