During the history of hardware we have seen a large number of computers appear, most of them repeating each other, but from time to time a PC appears that revolutionizes the market and makes everyone follow in his wake or are too ahead of his time. That is why we have compiled a small list of the most unrepeatable PCs in history.
In the world of hardware, innovating is difficult, doing it well means taking the glory and becoming a benchmark for at least years in a market that is as competitive as it is fast. Although you can have the most revolutionary idea in history in the form of a product and be a true commercial fiasco, therefore, among the latter are the most unrepeatable PCs in history.
The PCs that are unrepeatable
When making our selection of unique PCs, we have taken into account two very simple selection criteria.
- The first of the selection criteria is that every computer selected for this short list must be a personal computer, which means that supercomputers and time-sharing terminals are completely excluded from the list. Those based on electronic agendas and the like are also ruled out.
- The second of the selection criteria is that they have to have elements that would make it unique compared to other computers of the time, regardless of whether they had marked a general line to follow or other computers that were totally different, but later, they had taken elements years after.
We have tried to make the computers on the list as unknown as possible to the general public, but at the same time, in comparison with their contemporaries, to be unique and incomparable pieces. Hopefully the list is to your liking.
Xerox Star 8010
The first on our list of unrepeatable PCs is the Xerox Star 8010 and if there is one thing that is true that hurts the most staunch Apple veterans it is the fact that the graphical user interface that we use today was not invented by Apple. Steve Jobs, seeing how Xerox did not know the potential they had before them, decided that in the Lisa and Macintosh projects, Apple engineers would copy the idea from Xerox, which he had already developed in the 70s with his Alto, but it was not until 1981 that they released their Star 8010 to the world.
In the same year that IBM launched the 5150, the folks at Xerox released their Star 8010, the first personal computer that not only had a graphical interface, but also had a network connection and an operating system that supported programming-oriented programming objects with Smalltalk and the ability to send emails. So it was even superior to the computers that Apple released a few years later.
In what was also higher was in price, 17,000 US dollars from 1981 is 50,000 today due to inflation and therefore we are facing one of the most expensive personal computers in history. What did he carry inside? Well, all its hardware had been designed from the first to the last piece by Xerox and this makes it something unique and extremely rare.
The second of our unrepeatable PCs is what we could consider the first PC hardware-based workstation to be created for computer graphic design, a discipline that in the early 1980s was somewhat removed from a personal computer. The reason is that they did not have the necessary hardware and tools. That is why in 1984 the Mindset was launched, a computer that we could call the first x86 hardware-based workstation in history.
The Mindset was a modified version of Radio Shack’s Tandy 2000 with an Intel 80186 CPU and yes, we are not wrong, there was a single 186 that IBM did not adopt for their PCs. Although what stood out the most was its graphics card, with a palette of 512 colors, the AT PC with EGA from the same year had 64, and the ability to put 16 on the screen. Although what stands out is the fact that it is the first home computer with a Blitter, a hardware unit that was a key part of the boom in graphic design in personal computers that years later would popularize the Amiga.
Apple Macintosh PowerBook 100
While the previous two that we have shown you are rather dark and unknown computers, the third of the unrepeatable PCs is a contradiction in itself, since it has been repeated a thousand times as it is the father of current laptops. We have to say that if there is something that has always surprised us with respect to Apple, it is that it is not recognized for having been the ones that have been marking the form factor in PC laptops for many years and that is that although the 1991 Macintosh PowerBook it seems to us a generic piece of hardware, it was the first computer that defined how laptops should be from that moment on.
Designed in partnership between SONY and Apple, the PowerBook 100 was a design marvel that made the market forget those hideous old suitcase computers with a monochrome screen inside almost as small as a Game Boy’s. It was so revolutionary that since then all laptops copied the design of this computer, so it can be said that it was not only unique in its day. Unfortunately, like many of Apple’s innovations in its day, it is not remembered, despite being one of the most unique computers in history due to the influence it had on the rest.
Its CPU was a 16 MHz Motorola 68000, 2 MB of RAM and it had a 20 MB hard drive. The size of your screen? 9 inches with a resolution of 640 x 400 pixels, but this did not have color support and was therefore monochrome.
SEGA TeraDrive / Amstrad MegaPC
The fourth and last of the unrepeatable PCs on the list is based on the concept of joining a video game console with a computer. It can be said that today the PC video game industry is one of the most millions moving in the world, but at the beginning of the 90s there was still the PC mentality to play games and its hardware was not so prepared for it. and most fans preferred other platforms.
The Japanese SEGA, which in the early 90s was having incredible success with its 16-bit Mega Drive, Genesis console in the American market, decided to merge said console with a PC and the result was the Tera Drive. A compatible PC that was only sold in Japan and whose CPU was an 80286, which caused enormous disinterest on the part of users in the Japanese country, especially due to the fact that it was already possible to get an 80386 at the same price and therefore with very similar specifications.
Its western counterpart was manufactured by Amstrad in 1993, but this time equipped with an 80386 as the main processor in the computer part. Unfortunately it was the 25 MHz trimmed version of the processor and again. Of course, the hardware was out of date again and despite the interestingness of the concept, this term was also a failure and the version based on the Cyrix Cx486SLC was not even manufactured.