This week computer and software makers are celebrating the PC-compatible computer’s twentieth birthday. It was 1981 when IBM first introduced its own personal computer, and back then Apple greeted the news with a memorable newspaper advertisement that read, “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” L.A. Times columnist Jim Heid looks back at those days and the place Apple has in the history of the personal computer in a new article entitled Apple at the Core of PC Revolution.
Despite some problems on Apple’s end in 1981, it was well on its way to creating the first Macintosh — that was the year that many of the original Mac engineers joined the team, according to Heid. 1981 was also an important year for Xerox, whose expensive 8010 Star Information System foreshadowed many of the innovations that would later be found in the Mac.
Heid posited that while the IBM PC was a modest effort designed from the ground up to accelerate the acceptance of personal computers in business, the Mac was an engineering triumph. And while IBM lost control of its platform when clone makers stepped in, Apple has managed to maintain control of the Mac, despite an effort to open the platform to other computer makers in the 90’s.
“The year 1981 was indeed a watershed in the history of computing, and the introduction of the IBM PC is one reason. But another reason is that 1981 was the year when graphical interfaces began the trek from the research lab to the desktop. It was a journey that would take several more years, but when it was complete, computers would never be the same,” said Heid.