20th Century: 1976

On February 3, 1976, David Bunnell published an article by Bill Gates about software piracy in his Computer Notes Altair newsletter.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak demonstrate the first Apple computer at the Home Brew Computer Club in April 1976. The Apple I had a 6502 MOS 1 MHz processor, 8 kB of onboard memory, and 1 kB of VRAM for $666.66.

Apple I Board – ArnoldReinhold, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons.

The 8086 (also called iAPX 86) is a 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel between early 1976 and June 8, 1978, when it was released. The Intel 8088, released July 1, 1979,[4], is a slightly modified chip with an external 8-bit data bus (allowing cheaper and fewer supporting ICs). It is notable as the processor used in the original IBM PC design. The 8086 gave rise to the x86 architecture, which eventually became Intel’s most successful processor line. On June 5, 2018, Intel released a limited-edition CPU celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Intel 8086, called the Intel Core i7-8086K.

USR was founded in 1976 in Chicago, Illinois (and later moved to Skokie, Illinois) by a group of entrepreneurs, including Casey Cowell, who served as CEO for most of the company’s history, and Paul Collard, who designed modems into the mid-1980s. The company name is a reference to the fictional company U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, which featured prominently in the works of Isaac Asimov.

The Fairchild Channel F, short for “Channel Fun”, was the first video game console to use ROM cartridges, instead of having games built-in, and the first console to use a microprocessor. It was released by Fairchild Camera and Instrument in November 1976 across North America at a retail price of US$169.95 (equivalent to $763.58 in 2019). It was launched as the “Video Entertainment System”, but when Atari, Inc. released its Video Computer System the next year, Fairchild rebranded their machine as “Channel F” while keeping the Video Entertainment System descriptor. The Fairchild Channel F achieved only about 350,000 units before Fairchild sold the technology to Zircon International in 1979, trailing well behind the VCS. The system was discontinued in 1983.

    Fairchild Channel F – Evan-Amos

XMODEM is a simple file transfer protocol developed as a quick hack by Ward Christensen for use in his 1977 MODEM.ASM terminal program. It allowed users to transmit files between their computers when both sides used MODEM. Keith Petersen made a minor update to always turn on “quiet mode”, and called the result XMODEM.

XMODEM, like most file transfer protocols, breaks up the original data into a series of “packets” that are sent to the receiver, along with additional information allowing the receiver to determine whether that packet was correctly received. If an error is detected, the receiver requests that the packet be re-sent. A string of bad packets causes the transfer to abort.

XMODEM became extremely popular in the early bulletin board system (BBS) market, largely because it was simple to implement. It was also fairly inefficient, and as modem speeds increased, this problem led to the development of a number of modified versions of XMODEM to improve performance or address other problems with the protocol. Christensen believed his original XMODEM to be “the single most modified program in computing history”

Microsoft officially dropped the hyphen in Micro-soft and trademarks the Microsoft name on November 26, 1976.

In 1976 the first broadcast of The Muppet Show, I, Austin City Limits, Charlie’s Angels, Family Feud, The Gong Show, Laverne, and Shirley.

1976 in Software:

Mesa is a programming language developed in the late 1970s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in Palo Alto, California, United States. The language name was a pun based upon the programming language catchphrases because Mesa is a “high-level” programming language.

Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed reflective programming language. Smalltalk was created as the language underpinning the “new world” of computing exemplified by human-computer symbiosis. It was designed and created in part for educational use, specifically for constructionist learning, at the Learning Research Group (LRG) of Xerox PARC.

20th Century 1975

The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics comes out, proudly announcing the “World’s First Minicomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models…”, the Altair 8800. Altair had hoped to clear a few hundred orders to pay for the actual purchase of the needed parts to sell, but instead, the system was so popular from the article that it received over four hundred orders in one afternoon. The cover’s image was a mock-up due to the working model being lost en route to Popular Electronics.

The first microcomputer implementation of BASIC by Bill Gates and Paul Allen was written for the MITS Altair, which led to Microsoft’s formation later in the year.

Gordon French hosts the Homebrew Computer Club’s first meeting in his garage on March 5, 1975.

Microsoft was founded on April 4, 1975, by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sony introduced the Betamax video cassette tape recorder on May 10, 1975.

May 31, 1975: The European Space Agency is formed.

EPSON entered the US market in 1975.

1975: The first broadcast of Starsky & Hutch, Baretta, Barney Miller, Fawlty Towers, Good Morning America, One Day at a Time, Saturday Night Live, Space: 1999, The Jeffersons, Welcome Back, Kotter, Wheel of Fortune, and Wonder Woman.

1975 Software:

Altair BASIC is a discontinued interpreter for the BASIC programming language that ran on the MITS Altair 8800 and subsequent S-100 bus computers. It was Microsoft’s first product (as Micro-Soft), distributed by MITS under a contract. Altair BASIC was the start of the Microsoft BASIC product range.

Ikarus is a type of design and production software developed by URW foundry for converting existing typefaces and logos into digital format for computer-driven printing, plotting, and sign-cutting devices.

Appearing in Version 7, Unix was originally written by Stephen C. Johnson of Bell Labs in 1975. Douglas McIlroy later improved its accuracy, performance, and memory use and described his work and spell in general in his 1982 paper “Development of a Spelling list.”

1975 Game Companies:

Cinematronics Incorporated was an arcade game developer that primarily released vector graphics games in the late 1970s and early 1980s. While other companies released games based on raster displays, early in their history, Cinematronics and Atari, Inc. released vector-display games, which offered a distinctive look and a greater graphic capability (at the time), at the cost of being only black and white (initially). Cinematronics also published Dragon’s Lair in 1983, the first major LaserDisc video game.

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game holding company and entertainment conglomerate, best known for its Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts role-playing video game franchises, among numerous others.