With the invention of the microchip, many electronic devices, including computers, became a lot smaller.
Computers shrank further when the microprocessor was invented in 1971 and reduced the size of the computer’s central processing unit (CPU). (The CPU is the computer’s brain — it’s the part of the computer that performs what the computer program tells it to do.) For the first time, computers became small enough for home use.
The term “personal computer” was first used in 1975 by Ed Roberts, an American engineer, when he invented the first commercially successful personal computer.
Many early personal computers, including Roberts’s, had to be
built by the users themselves from kits they ordered by mail. They were popular, but mostly just among people who had a technical background.
Then companies began to manufacture computers, with each new model faster or better than the one before. The first portable personal computer was demonstrated in 1981.
It weighed more than 10 kg (23 lb.) — as much as a large bag of potatoes — so wasn’t very convenient. It looked like a keyboard with a tiny screen built in.
Now there are more than 1.5 billion personal computers worldwide, and experts estimate that number will double in just a few years.
The dream of a computer in every home was once thought to be impossible, but it’s quickly becoming a reality.
Personal computers made computing power available not just to governments and big corporations but also to small businesses and individuals. Computer manufacturers began designing with these new buyers in mind.
They made computers faster and more powerful, and Web designers began to create a blizzard of websites to provide entertainment, convenience and more.
Computers have come a long way. Now tablet computers are small enough to slip into your pocket, so you can stay connected no matter where you go.