[SIGCIS-Members] Reference//Growth of Early Personal Computer Industry

Evan Koblentz evan at snarc.net
Fri Mar 1 07:35:28 PST 2013

>> I was wondering if you could point me to good references on the early history of the personal computer industry. I'm looking for information for 1975-1985: # of firms, product introductions, # of units sold, that kind of thing. I'm trying to get some kind of quantitative handle on the growth in this area during this decade.


The best source of information for 75-76 is Stephen Gray's "Amateur Computer Society" newsletter, especially the last few issues. CBI has it, as does my user group based in NJ, but CHM has it online already:


The other thing you'll learn from reading ACS newsletters is that "the personal computer industry" did not start in 1975. Of course it depends on how you define "personal computer"...

For the later 70s and the 80s I recommend the online "museum" page on at http://www.old-computers.com/museum/default.asp -- there's a panel on the left where you can browse product launches by year. Very convenient.

Another good source is the book "Collectible Microcomputers" by former Byte editor Michael Nadeau. It was meant as a price guide, but its numbers are obsolete; it's best used as an encyclopedia / reference guide.

Magazine-wise, if you're willing to drive a few hours, our museum here in NJ (InfoAge Science Center) has nearly every issue from Vol. 1, issue 1, until Dec. 79, of Byte, Creative Computing, Dr. Dobbs, Interface Age, Kilobaud, and People's Computer Company. We also have many from Jan. 80 and newer but they're not organized.

- Evan

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