The Dawn of Personal Computing

 

The Dawn of Personal Computing refers to that period when complete computers became available to individuals on an exclusive basis. Aside from the benefits of applying computing resources to more and more fields of work, this led to an explosion in the number of people who had intimate knowledge of computers, how they worked and what they could do. Computers were no longer the preserve of a technical elite, and a community of computer enthusiasts could begin to develop.

Two developments in the early 1970s ushered in the dawn age for personal computing:

  • First was the development of the microprocessor, which in turn led to the introduction of small business computers and dedicated hobbyist home computer systems. Small business computers brought a professional style of hardware and software to individual users while the home computers of the 1970s allowed enthusiasts to gain a close understanding of the design and construction of microprocessor based systems.
  • Second was the movement of obsolete 1960s computer hardware into the hands of schools and enthusiasts. This allowed the recipients to gain experience and knowledge of professionally engineered hardware and software.
This site presents just a few examples of such systems and machines, examples that happen to be of personal interest.

Computer Catalog

 

Ai Electronics

Ai Electronics is one of many little known non-US developers of early personal computers. The Ai's ABC series are a good example of the high quality of work that was done outside the US. The ABC machines had advanced hardware design, were built to a high standard and had a very extensive software library.

There is very little information available about these machines in the English language internet and this site seeks to gather and preserve what may be found, to accompany DoPECC's two machines from the ABC series.

The original software environment for these ABC machines is missing. Anyone with any information or any items of original Ai software is urged to make contact with DoPECC.

 

NCR Computers

NCR was an early entrant into the postwar computer and data processing business. The combination of prewar business that understood the electromechanical cash register market and wartime technology transfer led NCR to early success in business data processing.

During the 1960s NCR developed a number of computers that fit with DoPECC's interests, in particular the machines based on the 605 small-scale IC processor.

DoPECC has acquired an NCR 725 which is a nice example of an early 1970s computer and is based on the 605 processor. The 725 is therefore a good candidate for restoration and preservation.

The NCR 725 is presented here as a potential restoration project and DoPECC is currently searching for people who may be able to contribute information.

 

Monroe Litton

Monroe was a large and successful US mechanical calculator company and was able to recognise the significance of electronic logic and data processing as these technologies developed in the 1950s. Monroe's electronic calculators are described on this site.

Monroe also successfully developed small commercial computers, no doubt recognising that their mechanical calculator business was also under severe threat by computer technology.

The Monrobot XI was one of Monroe's small business computers. This was one of the first machines that the author had experience with and it has naturally left a considerable sense of nostalgia. Monrobot machines seem to have been lost and the author is unaware of any survivors of any model.

The author's own collection of documents are presented here, for general interest and for the particular interest of anyone who may still have an example of this machine.

DoPECC is keen to know of any further examples of hardware, software or technical data for Ai and Monrobot machines. If any readers have information they may send a message via the About link.