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Twenty Years Ago, Part 1 - The QX-10

Most of us have heard that the rate of technological progress has increased exponentially, and when we think about it, we can see that there have been many changes in the last few decades. A common example of rapid growth of technology is powered flight, which began in 1903 with a flight of about 100 yards; less than seventy years later Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. While much of that particular technology was developed in relative obscurity, and its practical application - passenger airlines - came into common use while most of us were either very young or not yet born, the development of the computer has been very much a part of our lives.

Nearly every aspect of the computer has changed and improved in the past few years, and the capabilities of any off-the-shelf personal computer exceed those of the biggest mainframe of only a few decades ago. Today's PC is smaller, faster, tougher, more reliable, and easier to use than anyone other than science fiction writers would have imagined.

In the world of computers, there are many possible "birthdays" to celebrate: first computer, first personal computer, first whatever. Although I don't remember the exact date I bought my first computer, it was about twenty years ago, so I'm arbitrarily declaring this the twentieth birthday of the personal computer in my own life. In the next few columns, I'm going to recall what things were like in the good old days, and talk about what has changed since then.

My first computer was an Epson QX-10. This was really quite the computer, with features and software that would not be available on the IBM PC for a long time. Unfortunately for the QX-10, it was a high point in the life an operating system that was about to die. The inferior IBM PC, introduced a short time later, relied on IBM's reputation to quickly become the de facto standard, displacing the Apple and all other existing personal computers.

Following are vital statistics for my first computer, and what one might expect to buy today. In both cases, the package includes computer, printer, operating system, and software.

Epson QX-10 

2003 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA,
on the web at www.CSI-MSP.org


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