[vcf-midatlantic] Inventor of the first personal computer dies - and it's not who you think

Jim Scheef js at sdf.org
Sat Apr 22 19:49:23 EDT 2017

I think you're arguing with yourself. The NYT used the F-word somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Everyone knows that Whirlwind I was the original personal computer capable of being used by one person at a console. [just kidding - don't respond]
Quoting Macintosh: "Never trust a computer you cannot lift."

-----Original Message-----
From: vcf-midatlantic [mailto:vcf-midatlantic-bounces at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org] On Behalf Of Evan Koblentz via vcf-midatlantic
Sent: Saturday, April 22, 2017 11:16
To: Vcf <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org>
Cc: Evan Koblentz <evan at vcfed.org>
Subject: Re: [vcf-midatlantic] Inventor of the first personal computer dies - and it's not who you think

>> Noticed this in the NYT and thought that I've never heard of this guy, but he is mentioned in "Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer" by Scott McCartney. The NYT article is "Harry Huskey, Pioneering Computer Scientist, Is Dead at 101" https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/20/us/harry-huskey-dead-computer-pioneer.html His G-15 computer was 'personal' because it could be operated by one person.

I posted about him (and ARPA/PARC's Bob Taylor) last week on VCForum and Cctalk. They were both under-appreciated pioneers.

Harry was (probably) the last person alive who worked directly on ENIAC.

Of course, we strive to avoid the F word -- "first" -- when giving museum tours. "Early", "Tube generation", etc. are better choices. ENIAC was not the "first computer" unless you add several qualifiers. Anything is first if you use qualifiers... these are THE FIRST SOCKS (that I'm wearing today).

"Personal computer" is subjective. :)  The late Wes Clark was adamant that his LINC was (ahem) "the first personal computer" in the mid-1960s -- a decade after the Bendix G-15. I regret that I never asked Wes why he didn't consider the G-15 as equally personal if the criteria is a machine designed to be used by one person.

The real answer is probably, "Because history is written by winners." Most prominent historians of the Xerox/homebrew era worship Clark.

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