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- Sinclair release the ZX-80 home computer.
- Microsoft pays Seattle Computer Products US$50,000 for the rights to the QDOS operating system. This
becomes PC-DOS and MS-DOS.
- Bill Atkinson at Apple writes LisaGraf, which will become QuickDraw, the heart of the Macintosh's display
- The first IBM PC is launched, put together by a team led by Bill Lowe, and later, Don Estridge. It uses a
16-bit processor, the Intel 8088, has 16K RAM (expandable to 40K), 160K disk drive, and uses Microsoft's
PC-DOS operating system. 50,000 are sold in four months.
- The Xerox Star is introduced, the first marketed computer to use icons, menus, and windows, and had
a bitmapped screen. It uses the desktop metaphor, having icons for filing cabinets, telephone, in- and
out-boxes, wastepaper basket etc. It had software which allowed the user to combine text and graphics in
the same document. It costs US$16,595.
- Sinclair release the ZX-81 computer. It has 1K of RAM (expandable to 16K with a plug in pack), and a
black on white display via a TV. Software is loaded from cassette, and it has a membrane keyboard.
- Rod Canion, Jim Harris and Bill Murto start Compaq Computer.
- BITNET ("Because It's Time" Network) started by Ira Fuchs of City University of New York and Gleydon
Freeman of Yale University.
- Donkey Kong coin-op, written by Sigeru Miyamoto, is released by Nintendo. It is the first appearance of the
- Sinclair release the ZX Spectrum home computer. It has 16K of RAM (upgradeable to match the later
48K version) and a Z80 processor. It has a 'rubber' keyboard, an 8 colour display via a TV, and loads
software from cassette.
- The first Compaq PCs are launched. 47,000 of the portable computers (US$111 million worth) are sold in the
- Bill Gates is amazed by demonstrations of VisiCorp's VisiOn GUI at Comdex.
- Joanna Hoffman writes Apple's Human Interface Guidelines, which detail how all Macintosh
applications should look and function.
- A personal computer is Time magazine's Man of the Year.
- Lotus 1-2-3 is launched, designed by Mitch Kapor, and programmed by Jonathon Sachs. It sells a record US$53
million worth in its first year.
- Susan Kare joins the Macintosh team at Apple. She designs the "look" of the Macintosh, its icons, buttons,
fonts, windows etc.
- The IBM PC-XT is launched.
- Nintendo's Famicom (known as the NES in other countries) is launched in Japan for the equivalent of US$100.
- The Apple Lisa is launched, costing US$10,000.
- Hewlett-Packard introduce the LaserJet printer.
- The IBM PC-AT is launched, with an Intel 80286 microprocessor, 1.2Mb floppy drive, and 20Mb hard
disk. It costs around US$4,000.
- Microsoft fails in its bid to buy Lotus.
- Atari is split up: The hardware division goes to Jack Tramiel for US$240 million and changes its name to Atari
Corp. The coin-op business goes to Masaya Nakamura and becomes a subsidiary of Namco, as Atari Games.
- 22 January
- Apple's 1984 ad, directed by Ridley Scott, runs during the US Superbowl, heralding
the launch of the first Apple Macintosh. It costs US$2,495, with 128K RAM. 250,000 Macs are sold during
- An Apple Macintosh is launched with 512K RAM, the Fat Mac.
- Microsoft Windows, first announced in 1983, is launched.
- Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner found the Media Lab at MIT.
- The Apple LaserWriter is launched.
- Steve Jobs, having left Apple, founds NeXT Inc.
- Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian mathematician and computer scientist at the Computer Centre of the
Moscow Academy of Science, writes Tetris on an Electronica 60 computer.
- Q-Link, the forerunner of America OnLine, and the first graphical online service aimed at the
mainstream consumer, is launched for the Commodore 64 computer. It is run by Quantum Computer
Services, which was formed by a management group from Control Video, a company which planned to
provide games via modem, just as the Atari games market collapsed.
- Bill Joy and Dave Patterson design the SPARC processor.
- At the Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo's NES makes its US debut (launched in 1983 in Japan as the
- 15 July
- Aldus launch Pagemaker for the Apple Macintosh.
- NSFNET (National Science Foundation Network) created.
- Compaq launches the first 386 based PC, the DeskPro 386.
- Adobe Illustrator is launched.
- The Apple Macintosh Plus is launched, with 1Mb RAM.
- Mitch Kapor resigns as chairman of Lotus.
- IBM's OS/2 operating system is launched.
- IBM's PS/2 computers are introduced: The 30 (with 8086 processor), 50, 60 (both 80286), and 80
- The Apple Macintosh II and SE are launched. The II is the first colour Mac, with a 16MHz 68020
- Apple's HyperCard, written by Bill Atkinson, is introduced at the Macworld Expo.
- Steve Jobs' NeXT computer system is introduced.
- Aldus FreeHand 1.0 is launched.
- Quark XPress 2.0 is launched.
- The Nintendo Game Boy is launched.
- The Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive) is launched.
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