Fast-growing new hobby: Real computers you assemble yourself
Low-cost microcircuits bring tremendous computing power to thousands of homes.
By Ed Endelso
The hobby of home computing has arrived, and its prospects are as dazzling as the display that Bob Arning, who runs The Computer Store, nestled somewhat incongruously amidst the sandwich joints and lofts of New York's garment district, has been showing me.
I could have plunked down about the same amount I would pay for a color TV set and walked out with an assemble-it-yourself kit, ready to build my own computer. Thousands of Americans have been doing that lately.
"What can you do with a home computer?" says David Ahl, the publisher of Creative Computing magazine in response to my question. "Well, it can keep your Christmas card list for you. You can write and edit letters on it. You could use it to make out your shopping list by keeping a running record of kitchen supplies. Once you've had a computer for a while, you'll ask yourself, `How did I ever get along without one?'"
Home computers are so useful because they are real computers, not toys. Pointing at the home computer on a table, Stan Viet, owner of The Computer Mart on New York's Fifth Avenue, says, "That has more power than the early IBM 360 model 30." If you know computers, you'll remember that the 360 was considered revolutionary when it appeared in the 1960s.
The company that usually gets the credit for starting the microcomputer revolution is Intel Corp., a California-based semiconductor outfit. In the late 1960s, Intel helped a Japanese firm develop LSI chips for pocket calculators. Instead of using several chips for the circuitry, Intel created a single chip equal to the complete central-processing unit for a computer.single page
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