Various Computer Trends Throughout the Years
One of the earliest personal computers to hit the market was the Apple II, introduced in 1977. This innovative machine allowed consumers to complete various educational and business tasks, making it popular for schools, families, and companies. Back in the late-70s, however, PC functions were more or less limited to those functions; games back then contained very basic, if not crude graphics, at least by today’s standards.
The 1980s saw the rise of video games, for both consoles (Atari, Nintendo, Sega), and PCs. While Apple introduced the Apple II+ and Macintosh, competitors also unveiled the Commodore 64 and Tandy, among many others. Thanks to improved graphics, they also allowed gaming, with games like Pac Man, Q*Bert, and Asteroids becoming big.
While computers of the 80s became well known for gaming, many businesses still used them for company transactions, and more families added them to their homes, for children to complete schoolwork. By the end of the decade, more than nine million computers were sold in the U.S., up more than tenfold from 1980.
That nine million-plus figure more than doubled in the first half of the ‘90s. Both Microsoft and Apple revolutionized the market and helped drive those numbers up throughout the decade. Microsoft struck gold with Windows 95, while Apple found tremendous success with the Macintosh and iMac desktops, the latter of which was introduced in 1998.
The 1990s also saw an increase in people conducting business via laptop, which allowed consumers to work on the go, either in school, the office, library, or even on a plane.
In the 2000s, computer sales in the U.S. continued to grow, from 46 million in 2000, to 62M in ’05, and more than 85M by the end of the decade. Again, the rise in popularity of laptops probably helped contribute, along with the progress of the Internet during the 2000s. The introduction of netbooks, smaller, lightweight, not to mention less expensive laptops, also helped the numbers rise.
Although introduced in the late-2000s, tablets like the Kindle and iPad have become popular to the point that consumers use them instead of traditional desktops and laptops. These compact devices perform all the functions of a computer, and allow you to read, play games, and watch your favorite shows and movies. Many schools now use them instead of textbooks, and it is not uncommon for businesses to conduct online conferences using the same technology.
Smartphones come in handy for many for the same reasons, as they allow the same technology, albeit on a smaller screen. Now that we are nearly halfway into the 2010s, it will be interesting to see whether computer sales figures level off or even decline.