The Evolution of Computer Screens

The computer inside your mobile phone is insanely more powerful than the one that guided a rocket to the moon.

How much more? According to ZME Science, your iPhone could be used to guide around 120 million Apollo era spacecraft to the moon simultaneously. There is no doubt that technology has changed in a big way over the last 50 years. Computing power that once took over large rooms can now fit on the head of a pin. These original computers were certainly not laptops, weighing in at over a ton. At that time, the idea of a personal computer seemed an impossibility.

But as NASA started to work past the moonshot the scientific community around them began to pull off the impossible. These advancements in technology would shape the evolution of the personal computer and change lives forever.

Take a trip through time and experience the most noteworthy achievements in computer screens, from little known discoveries way back in 1968, to the heated battles between Apple and PC and beyond.

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"The Mother of All Demos"

Douglas Engelbart and his team from the Stanford Research Institute unveiled their On-Line System at a conference in San Francisco, later to be known as the “mother of all demos.”

There Engelbart debuted the graphical user interface (GUI) as well as editing, video conferencing, and word processing software.

Mouse icon

This demo also had the distinction of introducing the world to the mouse. In fact, the word “mouse” was coined by Engelbart’s team, although later, in interview, he couldn’t remember exactly who originated it.

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Apple II

This wasn’t Apple’s first computer, but it was their first competitive product in the computing space. Created by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, it sold from 1977 to 1993.

Apple II Command Line

The Apple II also introduced Visicalc, an application that revolutionized the business world - selling over 700,000 copies in six years.

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IBM 5150

IBM’s first reasonably priced personal computer, at $1,565 (about $4,100 in 2017) featured 16k on-board RAM and used an audio cassette to load and save data.

IBM icon

IBM hired Paul Allen and Bill Gates to create an operating system for this new PC. The pair bought one from Seattle Computer Products and used it as a template for the premiere of Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS DOS).

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The Macintosh

The innovative Apple Macintosh, introduced by Steve Jobs, was the first mass-market PC with a graphical user interface (GUI) known as Mac OS. The original cost was $2,500 (roughly $6,000 in 2017).


It came bundled with two programs to show off the capabilities of Mac OS, MacPaint and MacWrite.

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Windows 3.0

This was not the first Windows operating system, but it offered the first iteration of Microsoft Office for Windows — with Word 1.1, Excel 2.0, and PowerPoint 2.0. Like the Macintosh, it also had a GUI the ability to run 256 colors.

Solitaire icon

Card-playing favorite Solitaire was released in Windows 3.0 (Minesweeper wouldn’t come out until version 3.1).

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Windows 95

This OS was Microsoft’s most popular release ever. It premiered the iconic “start” button and introduced a taskbar at the bottom of the screen.

Internet Explorer original icon

Microsoft purchased the internet browser software Mosaic and rebranded it as Internet Explorer to compete with another popular browser, Netscape. Windows 95 soon came preloaded with Internet Explorer.

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Mac OS X

After Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 he revolutionized the look of the computer, introducing the iMac. He then turned his attention to the OS.

With OS X, Mac redesigned the entire look of the user interface, adding a dock at the bottom, windows with rounded corners, and other updates that gave it closer alignment to the sleek features of the new iMac.

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The first instance of Mac OS X was code named “Cheetah” and would begin a line of cat-named operating systems.

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When the first iPhone was released, it kicked off the mobile revolution. Apple essentially took their most popular product, the iPod, and paired it with another indispensable product: the phone. It featured a 3.5 inch screen and 128 MB RAM. (The iPhone 6 has 1GB RAM).

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The touchscreen technology on the iPhone wasn’t the first the world had seen. Apple acquired FingerWorks, the creators of the first multitouch keyboard, to help boost their technology.

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Windows 8

In an attempt to align their OS with mobile, Windows released an operating system featuring colorful boxes. It did away with the established “Start Menu” and replaced it with an expandable side menu.

Windows 8 Logo

To complete the rebrand, Microsoft released their new logo, dispensing with their traditional wavy flag and getting to something that more closely resembles a ...window.

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Apple Watch

Although the Apple Watch wasn’t the first smart watch to be released, it was by far the best-selling. Sony released their SmartWatch in 2012 and Samsung in 2013. In the same year, Pebble became the most successful Kickstarter campaign in history with their smart watch.

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Apple Watch’s computing power is equal to four original iPhones.

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