In Pictures: Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice. The PC's origin story

Technology marches relentlessly onward, discarding the old to make way for the new. Today’s heroes quickly becomes yesterday’s news.

The dawn of the PC era By the early 1970s, all the pieces were in place, and a deluge of personal computers began to sweep in, each vying for the right to scream “FIRST!”

The Computer History Museum considers the $750 Kenback-1 to be the holder of that particular title. Packing 8 bits of fury and a whopping 256 bytes of memory—or roughly 1/4096 of a megabyte—the Kenback-1 relied on switches and blinking lights for input and output functions, but only 40 were ever made. Meanwhile, the $1750 Micral N (pictured) was the earliest commercial, non-kit PC available (it came to market in 1973), but it never reached U.S. shores.

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