Opinion: Home Computer Waves from 1980–2020

This is an extremely biased rough historical outline of my experience with the evolution of home computing.

1.0: (the 1980s) When the Apple personal computer was an emerging technology it was a text-based device that allowed hobbyists to create what would become the future technologies we know today.

1.5: (the mid-1980s) Home video game consoles gained mass attention thanks to Atari and Nintendo. Early video games were the general public’s first introduction to computer “experience media” and this era brought it home.

2.0: (the 1990s) The rise of the Macintosh computer. This was a graphics and a text-based device that allowed for media creatives to transition to computers; designers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc.

2.5: (the mid-1990s) Previously for in the know scientists, VR/AR, and 3D animation become more noticeable in the public eye thanks to the film industry’s portrayal of it. Still, a serious outsider technology, VR/AR was reserved for the most adamant techies and mostly used at universities.

3.0: (the 2000s) The rise of the iPod, it allowed for the consumption of all the media creatives were making and launched the media consumption revolution. Technology companies used the lure of creating media and consuming it to power the next twenty years of computer upgrade incentives.

3.5: (the mid-2000s) VR/AR as a hobbyist computer. Apple has had little to do with this movement as they did with the first wave of home computers. People that use AR/VR are defining the future of “experience computing”.

4.0: (the 2010’s) The rise of the iPhone which took what we had learned from the internet and made a social computing device capable of sharing media with anyone, anywhere. It empowered people to be creative in mundane things, like photographing lunch. The iPhone eventually lead to media streaming services which made digital media collecting almost irrelevant.

4.5: (the mid-2010s) This time we saw VR/AR as less of a hobbyist venture and more of a tool for adventurous creatives. Big-name computer companies begin to allow us to create the next wave of digital “social experience media”.

5.0: (the 2020s) The rise of Glasses, this is the next wave of social experience media consumption and sharing. A highly social upgrade to VR/AR and creative making. The hope is that consumers will share their experiences of time and space like never before. New mediums and new types of creatives will emerge.

It’s an unfortunate fact that if one has money and power they can often get credit from the waves of innovation that have swept through time. Just think of all the unsung enthusiasts, amateurs, and supporters, of early computing in any form. People that have contributed to what would ultimately be taken as free advice by startups and corporations. People that write articles and posts about the topic, people in chat rooms, forums, and who email or call technical support with concerns, colleagues, friends, spouses, siblings, and parents. It makes you ask sometimes why we even have a history discipline when the elite don’t honor the people that inspire them.