The Start of a Revolution


I just finished watching In Search of the Valley, a documentary by a group of Brits who seek to understand the essence of Silicon Valley via a road trip (worth watching-also for the unique way it is distributed; buy and download it DRM free here).

One of the best moments is an interview with Lee Felsenstein, an early PC hardware developer who designed the first portable computer-the Osborne 1.  He dates the beginning of the personal computer revolution to the photo above.  It was the lead article (“Build a TV Typewriter/Put Your Message on the Screen”) of the September 1973 edition of Radio Electronics.

In the article, Don Lancaster explained how you too could build a machine that would put words on your TV screen.  Actually, in fact you had to buy the magazine and then pay $2 to get the schematics.  A typical schematic would sell perhaps 20 copies-over 10,000 requested this one.

You can check out the schematics here.  I love reading their description of what you could use the computer for (shockingly similar to today):

Obviously, it's a computer terminal for timesharing services, schools, and experimental uses.  It's a hame radio teletype terminal.  Coupled to the right services, it can also display news, stock quotations, time and weather.  It's a communications aide for the deaf.  It's a teaching machine, particularly good for helping preschoolers learn the alphabet and words.  It also keeps them busy for hours as an educational toy.

Monday, March 5, 2007

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