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IBM 360

Sigma 5 Mainframe

Apollo Guidance Computer

Interface Message Processor

Kitchen Computer

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IBM System 360 installation, 1965
Credit: IBM Corporation

Significant Machines

Many commercial computers were available in the 1950’s, but the widespread expansion of computers into all phases of business and engineering occurred in the 1960s. The key to this proliferation were the improvements in technology that led to lower prices, higher performance, and increased reliability. Systems ranged from the room-sized general-purpose IBM System/360 mainframe that automated business processes, to the compact and highly specialized Apollo Guidance Computer that helped take men to the moon. Improvements in the hardware and a deepening understanding of how to program these more complex machines led to sophisticated systems capable of being applied to a large variety of tasks. But despite prototypes for a “Kitchen Computer”, there were still no practical computers for the home.

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