Years 1970-1975 of Computer History

Computer Apps

Table of Contents

~The RCA
~TV Typewriter and Micral
~The Silver Arm
~The Alto
~SDS (Scientific Data System)
~VDM (Visual Display Module)


Over the 6 years, many things that happened during that time period that were popular aren't really used today anymore.



SRI International developed the first mobile robot controlled by artificial intelligence named Shaky. It used sensing devices,a tv camera, a laser range finder, and bump sensors to collect data. It also only moved at a speed of 2 meters per hour.


Xerox produced many inventions that changed computers such as the Ethernet, the laser printer, and object-oriented programming. Although they could not market it, other companies such as Apple, 3com, and Adobe could.



Advertised for $750 in Scientific American, the Kenbak-1 was the first personal computer. It was designed by John V. Blankenbaker. The Kenbak relied on switched for input and lights for output from its 256-byte memory. But Kenbak Corp. shut down after selling only 40 of those computers.


The company RCA was founded in 1919. IN the 1970's, it was having trouble competing with IBM. Making their machines IBM compatible didn't even work as strategy towards them. They sold their business to Sperry-Rand after announcing they would no longer be selling computers.



An engineer named Al Alcorn was hired to create a car driving game, but it was too ambitious for the time so he was told to create the ping pong game known as Pong for the Atari system. The game first became popular in Sunnyvale, California where it was released November 29, 1972 for testing to find out how popular it would become.


The HP-35, is a fast, extremely accurate electronic slide ruler, with a memory very similar to a computer's memory. It has the ability to perform logarithmic and trigonometric functions and to store intermediate solutions for later use. They also display entries similar to standard scientific notation form.


TV Typewriter and the Micral

The TV Typewriter was designed by a man named Don Lancaster. It used $120 worth of electronics components as outlined in the September 1973 issue of Radio Electronics. Another computer, named the Micral, was the earliest commercial, non-kit personal computer based on a micro-processor.
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IMSAI was a new company founded by a man named Bill Millard who left his old job in management to found the IMS (Informational Management Services). About a year later, while he was working on a client's project, he developed a small computing system using the new Intel 8080 microprocessor. He later combined them and called it the IMSAI 8080 and shipped about 20,000 units.


The Silver Arm

The Silver Arm was designed by David Silver at MIT. The arm's movements actually copied the movements of human fingers. It was used to assemble small parts using the feedback from pressure and touch sensors

The Alto

Xerox designed the Alto. It was the first work station with an input that a built-in mouse was used for. It stored files in windows, let you use menus and icons, and could link to local area networks. It was never sold commercially, but instead was given to universities. Its features were later used in other personal computers and work stations by engineers.



Xerox acquired SDS (Scientific Data Systems) and changed some of its well-known Sigma line of computers. It was struggling with trying to compete with IBM and shut down in 1975. Most of the rights to its machines were sold to the company Honeywell later.


Designed by Lee Felsenstein, the VDM (visual display module) prototype marked the first implementation of a memory-mapped alphanumeric video display for personal computers. It was first introduced in Albuquerque at the Altair Convention on March 1976. It was also used for interactive games on personal computers.