computer history


The First Portable Computers Were the Size of an RV

Why the first 'portable' computers, produced before integrated circuits, would really stretch the term today. Some portables needed a truck to move.
Ernie Smith

The Greatest Computer Network You’ve Never Heard Of

How the PLATO system, a pre-internet online platform that first came to life at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the 1960s, quietly fostered some of the first digital natives.
Ernie Smith
computer history

The First Text Adventure Game Ever Is Finally Open Source

‘Colossal Cave Adventure’ is due for an update.
Jordan Pearson

Jason Scott Is Archiving CD-ROMs and Floppy Discs From Closets Around the World

Game patches, spreadsheet software, FTP sites, software update files—the digital preservationist is saving rare bits of computer history that would otherwise be lost forever.
Jason Koebler

The Great Failure of Wang Laboratories, the David to IBM’s Goliath

The minicomputer maker Wang Laboratories ran an ad during the Super Bowl long before Apple did. So why did the company and its minicomputers become a footnote?
Ernie Smith
motherboard show

This Photo Shows How Computer Chips Were Made in 1975

Kickstarting the computer revolution involved using light to etch transistors in silicon.
Ernie Smith

How the Commodore Amiga Turned Andy Warhol into a Computer Artist

Commodore tried to upstage Apple by bringing out Andy Warhol and Deborah Harry for its Amiga launch event. It didn’t work, but Warhol showed genuine excitement for the platform.
Ernie Smith
motherboard show

Packard Bell Was the King of 90s Computing. What Happened?

When it was a radio-maker, Packard Bell had a reputation for quality products. When a PC clone startup bought the name, that reputation fell apart—fast.
Ernie Smith

The Year That the Entire Computer Industry Ran Out of Memory

For a few years in the mid-1980s, the RAM industry and the oil industry had a lot in common: Supply fluctuations could get severe. That’s why the most common kind of RAM was hard to find in the summer of 1988.
Ernie Smith

The Story of Shareware, the Original In-App Purchase

It wasn’t just about games. In the 80s and 90s, shareware democratized the way computer software was sold. Unfortunately, adware sort of dimmed its charm.
Ernie Smith

The Future of the World's Most Boring Software, the Word Processor

The word processor doesn't just deserve scolding. Here's an honest look at some budding word-processor innovation efforts. They're worth writing home about.
Ernie Smith
Microsoft Word

It Makes No Sense That Word Processors Are Still Designed for the Printed Page

For decades, word processors have continually gained new features that get in the way of the ultimate goal: writing. How do we get back to that goal?
Ernie Smith