As someone who was born in the year 1986, I belong to the last generation of people who remember life before computers became an everyday necessity. At the same time, I'm too young to recall machines that lacked Internet access, a mouse, and a monitor. Most people my age or younger tend to assume that even the most rudimentary computers contained these elements, but a peek in our archives says otherwise.
In 1967, we invited one of our writers to live with a computer for several weeks so he could understand what the machine had to offer. Since this was during the time-sharing era, his computer looked less like today's desktops and more like a typewriter (in this case, a Teletype) hooked up to a phone line. Naturally, his report, "I Used a Real Computer at Home....and So Will You" proclaimed these terminals as the next big thing. We have nothing to fear about computers becoming a menace, he insisted. Because eventually, they'll become inextricable to everyday life.
If there's one thing we can say about our computer coverage between the 1970s and 1980s, it's that we made an impressive amount of accurate predictions. First, we insisted that the mouse would become a default addition to personal computers. Then, after watching an MIT professor simulate a driving program on his machine, we became convinced that people would one day store high-resolution graphic programs on discs. When staffers at Time showed us how they could edit images on a computer screen, we predicted that the era of ink bottles would soon yield to the era of digitized pictures and tech-savvy graphic designers.
Just think, twenty years ago, we couldn't imagine being able to access our online archive within seconds, let alone turn its contents into features for the web. If you're in the mood for feeling impressed at the progress of technology, click through our gallery for a look at the most popular computers between the 1960s and 1980s.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.