lecture9 - Lecture 9 The Computer Hobby Movement Informal...

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Lecture 9. The Computer Hobby Movement Informal and unedited notes, not for distribution. (c) Z. Stachniak, 2011. Note: in cases I were unable to find the primary source of an image or determine whether or not an image is copyrighted, I have specified the source as ”unknown”. I will provide full information about images and/or obtain reproduction rights when such information is available to me. Introduction In the last lecture we looked at the world-wide activities aiming at designing inexpensive microprocessor-based computers for personal use and ownership. The companies such as the Canadian MCM, French R2E, and American Scelbi were among the first firms to announce and manufacture such com- puters. While these early microcomputer manufacturers were able to attract small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, agencies, and educational insti- tutions, they were unable to attract the general public to their products (to both, computers and software). The main three reasons for that failure were: early PCs were too expensive for an average individual (in 1974, the cost of an MCM/70 in basic configuration was approximately $4,000 which would suffice to buy a new Ford Mustang and a few other items); general public was not well educated about computers and their ben- efits; the early PC manufacturers were not interested in computer lit- eracy programs; instead, some companies, such as MCM, insisted that their computers are ”as easy to use as pocket calculators”; none of the early PC companies could offer a ”killer” application that would make their computers a highly-desirable consumer electronic gadget (note that there was no computer gaming market!!). 1
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The hobbyists The historical mission of explaining computers to the general public, of stim- ulating the development of the personal computer industry, and of helping to introduce computers to homes was fulfilled by a movement initiated in 1974 by the North-American electronic hobbyists interested in computers. This movement is referred to as computer hobby movement . Fig. 1. Computer hobbyist Howard Franklin constructed his first computer in Toronto in 1974. Photograph by Z. Stachniak, 2004. Who were the computer hobbyists? In short, these were enthusiasts of elec- tronics interested in computers. Some of them were electronics profession- als, others were high-school students interested in build-your-own-gadgets – most were just curious about electronics and what it had to offer. The hob- byists were flocking around popular electronics magazines, such as Radio- Electronics and Popular Electronics which were important catalysts in the formation of the microcomputer hobbyists’ movement. 2
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These magazines offered not only information about electronics novelties but also, and frequently, detailed construction projects such as: ”build your own calculator”, ”build the first Low-cost ALL-SOLID-STATE TV Camera!” Of course, not everybody was interested in everything and only some embarked at these construction projects.
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  • Fall '12
  • ZbigniewStachniak
  • Microprocessor, Personal computer, hobbyists

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