During the 1970s, computer technology took great leaps forward, and by the end  of the decade computers had become smaller and more available than at any time  in history. The ’70s gave birth to the personal computer, microprocessor, mouse  and two companies that would become giants in the computer world.

Advances in Hardware

  • During the 1970s, several companies successfully developed hardware that is  still used in computers today. Intel developed a new random-access memory (RAM)  chip capable of holding 1000 bits of information in 1970, and introduced the  first microprocessor, the Intel 4004, in 1971. Computer pioneer Douglas  Engelbart patented the first computer mouse in 1970, while Xerox released the  first laser printer in 1971. Toshiba introduced the first floppy disk drive in  1974, and the first 5.25-inch floppy disk was invented two years later, becoming  the industry standard by 1978.

Personal Computers

  • In 1977 owning a home computer became a possibility with the release of the  Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80. Sold exclusively at Radio Shack, the TRS-80 featured a  12-inch monochrome monitor, 4,000 bits of RAM, a keyboard, and a cassette deck  that stored and recorded information on cassette tapes. The TRS-80 was an  instant success, and sold over 10,000 units in the first month after its  release. In 1978, Apple released the Apple II home computer that featured a hard  plastic case, built-in keyboard, disk drive, color graphics and a RAM capacity  of 64,000 bits. The TRS-80 retailed for $600 when first released, while the  Apple II retailed for $1,298.