Even in the early days of 8 bit computer the origins of the personal computer were already being blurred in myth. Much of the confusion is around the definition of personal computer. My personal definition of a personal computer is becoming less common as many other devices previously not thought of as a personal computer actually met with the criteria of personal computers. Yet, this blog is my personal opinion so this is my picks for the first three personal computers.
As a story about the first 3 personal computers of 1977, my posts will not be a comprehensive history of personal computers. For a far more complete history of computers check out the http://www.computerhistory.org/
In the linked article the Apple II was the first personal computer, yet the Commodore PET is completely missing: http://www.pc-history.org/ Some pre West Coast Computer Faire references to the Apple II were to the Apple II kit, as Steve Jobs thought selling a computer without a power supply and keyboard was a personal computer.
The next linked article goes down many roads to find the first personal computer, with a very surprising winner. http://www.blinkenlights.com/pc.shtml My opinion differs from this. While the article is one of my favorites, IMHO a personal computer need to be inexpensive and have a particle way of disturbing software.
While the Apple Computer’s Apple II made it’s first appearances at the first West Coast Computer Faire in April 16, 1977 the Commodore PET was first demonstrated earlier then that. Commodore PET – The Worlds First Personal Computer For a timeline in need of a graphic update go here:Chronology of Personal Computers
I think the first software was just as important as the first personal computers. Visacalc was one of the first programs that convinced people to purchase a personal computer. In 1977 accounting was a laborious job when done with a calculator. With a personal computer and Visacalc an accountant could do a weeks worth of calculations in one day. While computers with CP/M, Unix, and others were available, they were expensive with very little software. Yes, the accountants did the math and the personal computer became the new device became the essential tool for any number cruncher. Originally available on the Apple II the new accounting software was essential for sales and was soon on all the first personal computers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VisiCalc
Computer peripherals were important, too. If I recall correctly Apple had the first floppy disc drive and Commodore had the first personal computer printer.
There were many great other first and one of my favorites is yet to be, the first successful 3D printer.