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Computers… in the home? The family of the future (1978)

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TRS-80 computer

Computers in the homes? Wave of the future is now!

by Kevin Haney

It’s a weekday evening, sometime in the near future.

This Bucks-Mont family has just finished dinner and is settling into its normal weeknight routine. The children go to the VDTs in their room to work on their homework. Tonight’s assignment is in Levels 1 and 2 BASIC.

apple-ii-computer-adMom putting the dishes in the dishwasher and programs the central processing unit to do the dishes and, while she’s at it, gives the unit new climate control instructions. Meanwhile, Dad is on his way to the store to buy that much-needed additional 2K memory he and the wife have been meaning to get.

Now wait a minute!

2KB memory? VDT? Levels 1 and 2 BASIC? What is this mish-mash?

What it is is the family of the future — completely equipped with its own personal computer.

A science-fiction world

The world that many thought could only exist in a dream or a science fiction, the world that others, such as George Orwell feared, is finally here.

Computers, those ingenious devices which have helped put men on the moon, revolutionized science, medicine and business, caused people as Orwell to fear for the worst, and perplexed millions of ordinary citizens, are finding their way into the home.

The breakthrough came last year when several firms started marketing home computers — usually composed of a typewriter panel, a television screen and a cassette recorder.

The machines now being marketed cost no more than a high quality stereo, and require little more than reading an instruction manual to learn how to operate. The home models presently available can store recipes, do math problems, and even record telephone calls when a person is not home.

But that is only for starters, say those in the computer business. Someday the machines will be doing everything from the wash to income tax returns.

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Donald French, merchandising manager for the Tandy Corporation, said his company’s market research shows a “very good” potential for home computer sales.

>> Will the personal computer go mass-market? (1977)

Notably, the larger computer firms have yet to market any computers for household use, and instead are concentrating their efforts on business use.

French said other firms would probably start marketing home computers as the costs decrease.

According to industry sources, there are about half a dozen firms now marketing table-top computers for use in the home. And many people involved in the industry are predicting computers will become the ultimate home life status symbol.

commodore-pet-computer-2001-from-1977A recent computer convention in San Jose, California, drew over 14,000 people and the same show is scheduled for Philadelphia later this year.

To show how a home computer can help conserve energy, a man in Illinois is building a solar-powered home which will be controlled by a computer now available for home use.

But that is of small consequence compared to what is predicted for the years ahead.

French said he and others in the industry are certain the home computer will revolutionize home life, making still more time available for leisure and other activities.

Is that R2D2 we hear in the background?

Top photo: Tandy TRS-80 computer (Picture by Dave Jones). Photo 2: Apple II computer, 1978. Photo 3: Commodore PET computer 2001, from the 1970s. 

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