“Home Computers: 100 Icons that Defined a Digital Generation”, Alex Wiltshire (2020)

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Today, people carry powerful computers in our pockets and call them “phones.” A generation ago, people were amazed that the processing power of a mainframe computer could be contained in a beige box on a desk. This book is a celebration of those early home computers, with specially commissioned new photographs of 100 vintage computers and a generous selection of print advertising, product packaging, and instruction manuals. Readers can recapture the glory days of fondly remembered (or happily forgotten) machines including the Commodore 64, TRS-80, Apple Lisa, and Mattel Aquarius―traces of the techno-utopianism of the not-so-distant past.

Home Computers showcases mass-market success stories, rarities, prototypes, one-offs, and never-before-seen specimens. The heart of the book is a series of artful photographs that capture idiosyncratic details of switches and plugs, early user-interface designs, logos, and labels. After a general scene-setting retrospective, the book proceeds computer by computer, with images of each device accompanied by a short history of the machine, its inventors, its innovations, and its influence. Readers who inhabit today’s always-on, networked, inescapably connected world will be charmed by this visit to an era when the digital revolution could be powered down every evening.

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