Who Invented the PC?

By Timothy Sexton

  • Overview

    Surprisingly few inventions can actually be credited to just one man, and the personal computer is not an exception. A number of claims continue to be made to the title of the inventor of the computer for personal use, but the evolution of the technology eventually makes it necessary to spread the wealth around a bit.
  • Edward Roberts

    Edward Roberts gave the world the first Do-it-Yourself computer kit, called the Altair. Roberts' claim to being the inventor of the PC is often overlooked because the Altair bears very little resemblance to personal computers as they have been known by most owners. It lacked a monitor as well as any input or output devices. The Altair user worked the machine by entering a program and flipping toggle switches.
  • The Two Steves

    The two men usually credited with inventing the personal computer are Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They began work in their garage and eventually created what became known as the first Apple computer. The desire of the two Steves was to expand upon the Altair's limited capabilities, and they succeeded by giving the user the ability to input data.

  • Apple II

    Jobs and Wozniak's first personal computer that actually looked like what was to come was the Apple II. This PC arrived with an actual keyboard that looked like the familiar typewriter, as well as a monitor. The Apple II really brought consumers into the consciousness of having a computer inside their home.
  • Paul Allen and Bill Gates

    Two other big names that are often tossed around as the inventor of the personal computer are Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Like the two Steves, Allen and Gates were basically looking for a way to make the Altair more user-friendly. They achieved this by writing a version of the BASIC software program that became the dominant language for the PC.
  • Gary Kindall

    One of the most often overlooked names in the story of who invented the PC is Gary Kindall, who worked for Digital Research and invented the first computer operating system, CP/M. Although MS-DOS overtook this as the primary computer operating system by the late 1980s, CP/M set the template--and if Kindall had only been willing to sign the same non-disclosure agreement that Bill Gates eventually signed with IBM, CP/M might well have changed the course of PC history.
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