Dell Computer Corp

dellCreated in 1984 by Michael Dell while enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, it was initially called PCs Limited. Working on his own, he ran the company from his dormitory, and sold IBM compatible PCs built from standard parts. After getting an investment from his family,  Dell dropped out of college to focus on the company full time.  The first Dell-designed computer was the Turbo PC,  with a price tag of $795. It used an Intel 8088 chip and ran at 8 Mhz. Originally advertised in magazines as custom assembled machines, PCs Limited became highly successful, grossing more than $73 million it’s first year.

In 1988, the company name was changed to Dell Computer Corp. and set up its first on-site service centers the following year. By late 88, Dell’s market share had soared to $80 million after an IPO, and Michael Dell became one of the great success stories of the computer industry. By 1992, Dell was on Fortune Magazine’s 500 world largest companies. After beginning to sell its computers on the Dell website, the company began expanding into other markets, including handheld devices, digital audio players, and printers. The company name was changed yet again in 2003 to Dell Inc. Today Dell is one of the most prominent PC manufacturers on the planet, and continues to be successful under Michael Dell’s direction.

X Windows

X_logoX Windows is the standard on Unix and Unix based systems for GUI interfaces. It is often referred to as X or X11, and was developed in 1984 at MIT where Bob Scheifler and Jim Gettys set out the early principles of the system. Providing the basic framework for graphical user interfaces on operating systems such as FreeBSD and Linux, version X11 was released in 1987. The X.Org Foundation leads today’s implementation of the project, and other early bitmap display systems included the Xerox AltoApple Lisa, and the Mac along with Unix flavors as well.

X gets it’s name from a pre-1983 window system called W, which X follows in the Latin alphabet.

Cisco Systems

ciscoFrom Cisco’s “Corporate Overview”

Cisco was founded in 1984 by a small group of computer scientists from Stanford University. Since it’s inception, Cisco engineers have been leaders in the development of Internet Protocol (IP)-based networking technologies. This tradition of IP innovation continues with industry-leading products in the core areas of routing and switching.

Today, with more than 34,000 employees worldwide, Cisco remains committed to creating networks that are smarter, thanks to built-in intelligent network services; faster, in their ability to perform at ever-increasing speeds; and more durable, with a generational approach to an evolutionary infrastructure.


neuromancer2When Neuromancer by William Gibson was first published it created a sensation. Or perhaps it would be more precise to say that it was used to create a sensation, for Bruce Sterling and other Gibson associates declared that a new kind of science fiction had appeared which rendered merely ordinary SF obsolete. Informed by the amoral urban rage of the punk subculture and depicting the developing human-machine interface created by the widespread use of computers and computer networks, set in the near future in decayed city landscapes like those portrayed in the film Blade Runner it claimed to be the voice of a new generation. (Interestingly, Gibson himself has said he had finished much of what was to be his body of early cyberpunk fiction before ever seeing Blade Runner.)

Eventually it was seized on by hip “postmodern” academics looking to ride the wave of the latest trend. Dubbed “cyberpunk,” the stuff was being talked about everywhere in SF. Of course by the time symposia were being held on the subject, writers declared cyberpunk dead, yet the stuff kept being published and it continues to be published today by writers like K. W. Jeter and Rudy Rucker. Perhaps the best and most representative anthology of cyberpunk writers is Mirrorshades., edited by Sterling, the genre’s most outspoken advocate.

Intel 80286

80286 The Intel 80286 (officially called iAPX 286) is a 16-bit microprocessor that allows up to 16 megabytes of RAM. On DOS machines these can only be used via extended memory emulation. The Intel 8086 by contrast is only able to address 1 megabyte of RAM. The clock speed is between 6 and 20 MHz. Its successor is the Intel 80386.  First released in 1982, the 286 was widely used in IBM PC compatible computers during the mid to late 1980s.


pcatThe IBM PC AT is the successor of the PC and the XT. IBM added a lot of new features including switching to the Intel 80286, which allowed for among many other things, 16 bit expansion slots.

It also used then-new MS DOS 3.0 which supported 1.2 MB floppies, 20 MB disks, and allowed file sharing. The keyboard also came with cursor keys and a key that could lock it. Two models were launched: the PC-AT model 1 (256 KB RAM, two floppy disk units and a color screen) and the PC-AT Model 2 (512 KB RAM, one floppy disk unit, one hard disk and a color screen).

This computer was revolutionary, but it was the last time IBM imposed a standard onthe PC clone industry. The next year, the first PC based on a 80386 was made by Compaq and IBM failed to capitalize on the PS/2 standard in 1986.

Apple Macintosh

macApple Computer debuted the Macintosh in 1984. It was the first personal computer to feature a graphical user interface, a system of operating a computer by manipulating windows, menus, and icons with a mouse. It’s much easier to use than the traditional system requiring precise text input, and revolutionizes the way people interact with computers.

Earlier PCs were not for those unfamiliar with a computer, as the interaction between user and machine was through a command line interface in which the user had to type explicit instructions that the computer could recognize. In 1963 the Stanford Research Institute established the Human Factors Research Center for the study of human-computer interaction. It was there that the mouse was invented by Doug Englebart, and the idea of a GUI was conceived.

The first company to build a GUI computer was Xerox, who created the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center led by Bob Taylor. The PARC team developed a desktop workstation featuring a composite of text and graphics. The result was the Xerox Star in 1981, which utterly failed because of a high price tag. At the time Apple CEO Steve Jobs had visited Xerox while it was under development, and he set in motion Apple’s first attempt at a GUI PC, the Lisa, which fails for the same reason as the Star.  The second attempt, the Macintosh, was a hit. On January 22nd, 1984 they ran a now famous commercial during the Superbowl, a marketing move still talked about today. The “Mac” as it was called, sold for about $2500 and did well. It’s impact on the computing world was that GUI would become an industry standard, quickly adopted by many other operating systems and changing the relationship between human and computer forever.

The original Macintosh sported a Motorola 68000 8 MHz processor and 128k of RAM. Later the memory was boosted to 512k, earning those models the nickname “Fat Macs”. It also included a black & white screen that ran at 512×312, had two serial ports, a printer port, and external floppy port.

Sony Corporation

From Sony’s “Corporate Fact Sheet”

Sony Corporation of America, based in New York City, is the U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its music, motion picture, television, computer entertainment, and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. The co-developer of the CD, DVD, and SACD; the developer, manufacturer, and marketer of PlayStation® game consoles.

The inventor of a wide range of consumer audio-visual products, such as the FD Trinitron® WEGA® television, Mavica® digital camera, Digital8® Handycam® camcorder, Walkman® personal stereo, MiniDisc player/recorder, and the Memory Stick®IC flash media; IT products, including VAIO® personal computers, FD Trinitron® computer display, the 3.5-inch floppy disk, and CLIÉ™ handheld; and professional products, highlighted by the HDCAM® 24-P, Digital Betacam® and DVCAM® VTR and camera formats