Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Designing the World’s First Home Computers

Oscar Holland, CNN:

The invention of the microprocessor — Intel’s 4004 was the first to be made commercially available in 1971 — changed all that. Manufacturers were finally able to produce machines small enough to fit into customers’ homes.

Yet, the question was: Could firms persuade people to actually want one there?

The story of how computers infiltrated our homes is not one of technology, but one of marketing and design, according to writer and journalist Alex Wiltshire, whose new book, “Home Computers: 100 Icons that Defined a Digital Generation,” tells the industry’s early history through its most influential models.

I dispute what I assume is Holland’s blanket reframing of the home computer revolution as a matter of design over technology — the web created a compelling technological argument for many, but not all. It took both to make the home computer a commonplace item: the technology provided a foundation, but it needed people with an eye to design, ease-of-use, and contextualization to give it purpose.

Nitpicks aside, I adore the idea behind this book, and the photography commissioned for it. You can see a few more examples on the publisher’s website.