The 10 Most Important Computers From The Last 30 Years

ibm pc

[credit provider=”Wikimedia Commons” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ibm_pc_5150.jpg”]

30 years ago today, IBM released the 5150, marking the birth of the personal computer as we know it today.Modern computing exploded and suddenly there was a rush to see who could improve on the idea of a “personal computer.”

Plenty of people threw their hats into the ring, designing machines that were alternately duds and breakthroughs.

We like to focus on the breakthroughs, so we’ve collected the 10 most important computers since the release of the original IBM PC.

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”1981-the-ibm-pc-1″
title=”1981: The IBM PC”
content=”It broke all kinds of preconceived notions about computers — it was affordable, it was small, and it made the term ‘PC’ commonplace.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e45385c6bb3f70559000035″
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[slide
permalink=”1982-franklin-ace-100-2″
title=”1982: Franklin Ace 100″
content=”This machine is the cause of the first software copyright lawsuit — it was more or less a physical clone of the Apple II’s operating system and hardware. After an appeal, the courts found in favour of Apple, a decision that established that computer software could be copyrighted.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e454521eab8eabb0d000017″
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[slide
permalink=”1982-commodore-64-3″
title=”1982: Commodore 64″
content=”The Commodore might just be the most famous home computer. Between 1982 and 1993, almost 30 million of them were sold around the world.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e4537cb6bb3f70a5900002e”
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[slide
permalink=”1982-zx-spectrum-4″
title=”1982: ZX Spectrum”
content=”The Spectrum did for the UK what the Commodore 64 did for the US — it got people excited about computing and it got companies developing software for it. It was produced by Clive Sinclair, who earned a knighthood for services to British industry.

The Spectrum sold roughly 5 million units.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e453a1069bedd284c000027″
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[slide
permalink=”1983-ibm-pc-xt-5″
title=”1983: IBM PC XT”
content=”An update on the original IBM PC, the XT came with an internal 10 MB hard drive, something that just wasn’t done at the time. It quickly became the standard afterwards.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e45434a69beddf00e000015″
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[slide
permalink=”1983-apple-lisa-6″
title=”1983: Apple Lisa”
content=”The Lisa was the first consumer-grade computer with a graphical interface. The $10,000 price tag presented quite a barrier to consumers, though.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e453aa3ecad04191e000000″
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[slide
permalink=”1984-macintosh-7″
title=”1984: Macintosh”
content=”This computer was such a hit that today’s Apple computers are its direct descendants, nearly 30 years later. It had a graphical user interface just like the Lisa, but its reduced price tag made it much easier to sell.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e453e4869bedd616c000020″
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[slide
permalink=”1990-next-turbo-dimension-cube-8″
title=”1990: NeXT Turbo Dimension Cube”
content=”Yes, NeXT was the computer company that Steve Jobs started after getting booted out of Apple, but this specific computer is important for a different reason — it was the model used by Tim Berners-Lee to host the World Wide Web in its infancy.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e4538b7eab8eaa24a000026″
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[slide
permalink=”1996-deep-blue-9″
title=”1996: Deep Blue”
content=”After losing in chess to Garry Kasparov, IBM engineers got busy improving Deep Blue (renaming it ‘Deeper Blue’). It came back to beat Kasparov in 1997, demonstrating incredible processing capability.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e454f3d6bb3f75258000000″
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[slide
permalink=”1998-imac-10″
title=”1998: iMac”
content=”Up until the iMac, computers were boring beige boxes. Apple revolutionised the idea of what computers could look like when they unveiled a curvy, jaw-dropping new line available in a number of explosive colours.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e4545f16bb3f70016000035″
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[slide
permalink=”bonus-ipad-11″
title=”BONUS: iPad”
content=”A controversial idea, we know — the iPad is arguably a mobile device. But consider this: in 5 years, will computers look more or less like an iPad?”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4de8eb06cadcbb8211070000″
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[slide
permalink=”want-more-computing-history-12″
title=”Want more computing history?”
content=”Click here for the most important names in computing history that you’ve never heard >
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[/slideshow]