Who Started the PC Revolution: A short history of the PC.

English: Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter, Vo...

Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 9, September 15, 1976 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the anniversary, on March 5, 1975, of the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club, the beginning of the personal computer revolution.

Apple’s founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, were members.

Apple was founded just over a year later, on April 1, 1976.

Apple first showed its personal computer kit publicly at the Homebrew Computer Club in December 1976.

The Homebrew Computer Club was started by Gordon French and Fred Moore because they were interested in hardware, developing small computers for individuals, instead of relying on whatever mainframe time they could get.

French had already developed the Chicken Hawk, a do-it-yourself computer, around a Motorola 8008 chip.

They had tried to and failed to be invited to be on the board of the newsletter, People’s Computing Company, which would eventually become Dr. Dobb’s Journal, a professional magazine for the computer industry that was published until 2009.

Moore believed in interactive, accessible, affordable computing and worked with Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, whose mantra was “access to tools.”

Moore embodied this openness and generosity by urging club members to “bring back more than you take.”

He is considered the patron saint of the Open Source movement.

Lee Felsenstein, another founder of the Homebrew Computer Club, was a designer for Adam Osborne, who founded Osborne Computer, which made the first portable computers.

Along with all this activity in Silicon Valley, kit manufacturers started to get into the game.

Heathkit announced their H8 microcomputer kit in July 1977.

For $400 and a soldering iron, you could build your own computer.

I toyed with the idea.

I wasn’t an engineer, but knew that building my own computer would move me far along in a new dimension of what I was doing during the day, programming in COBOL on mainframes.

As it happened, I never did buy the kit or learn to solder.

Eventually, my last job in the computer industry was for a hardware designer.

There I learned that if you tell an engineer about a problem, they will start designing the solution before you finish describing what you need.

I’ve owned Apples since 1981.

A few years ago, I was walking through a Bass Pro Shop, which had a number of vintage tools displayed in various spots.

A 10-year-old boy walked by one of these displays, an old typewriter.

He called his Mom over and said, “Look Mom, an old computer.”

When did you get your first personal computer?

Do your grandchildren have one?

Do your grandchildren use yours?

To you and helping your grandchildren understand the world BC, before computers.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru, Grandma to two awesome seven-year-olds.

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers



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