August 12, 2013

Image of the Week: Looking Back at the First Personal Computer

by Christine Hoekenga

On August 12, 1981, IBM introduced the first personal computer, the Model 5150.

On August 12, 1981, IBM introduced the first personal computer, the Model 5150. Image courtesy: Ruben de Rijcke (CC)

Today marks 32 years since IBM introduced its first personal computer, the model 5150. Developed in just one year (a record for the company), the 5150 featured a glowing green screen, 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, and a whopping 16 to 256 kilobytes of memory (enough to process up to 262,144 characters of text, or one good sized book).  Although it looks like the electronic dinosaur now, the 5150 was quite advanced for its time, and the basic model fetched $1,565.

It’s amazing to think how far technology has come in just a few decades.  Now, phones we carry in our pockets dwarf the memory and speed of the clunky machines that made headlines in the 1980’s.  Perhaps more importantly, though, modern computers–whether desktops, smartphones, tablets, or laptops–have the capability to connect us instantly with people around the world and more information that we could possibly absorb.

Modern technology presents endless opportunities to learn and teach, from apps that can help teachers map their lessons to the Next Generation Science Standards to massive online learning academies like Coursera.  We hope that Visionlearning’s (newly revamped) online modules, Classroom feature, and science glossary app are among your favorite digital learning tools, and we are always interested in hearing from users about how you use technology for science education.

Please let us know how you like the new site and what you would like to see us develop in the future.

Christine Hoekenga

Written by

Christine is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist, specializing in science and nature. She holds an Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Media Studies and a Master's of Science Writing. She has been working in science communication and education for nearly a decade as a journalist, an organizer for conservation groups, and a museum educator. Before joining the Visionlearning team, she served as the New Media and Online Community Manager for the Webby award-winning Smithsonian Ocean Portal. Christine is assisting Visionlearning with developing new modules and glossary terms, managing the blog, and outreach through social media.