Required Viewing: The Machine That Changed the World


Andy Baio of has begun posting digitized versions of a 1992 documentary about personal computers entitled The Machine That Changed the World. Narrated by Frontline veteran Will Lyman, the WGBH Boston documentary is "the longest, most comprehensive documentary about the history of computing ever produced," according to Baio. The documentary is great fun -- featuring extensive interviews with major computer pioneers, it covers a broad spectrum of computer history and trivia.

From Baio's description of this episode:

In 1971, the invention of the microprocessor led to affordable computer kits like the Altair 8800. Groups of computer hobbyists like the Homebrew Computer Club led to a cottage industry of hardware and software startups, including the founders of Apple Computer. Their Apple I in 1976 and the Apple II in 1977 were huge hits. The success of the personal computer, including the Commodore PET, Atari 400/800, and TRS-80, inspired IBM to enter the market with the PC in 1981. They soon dominated the industry. Inspired by the work at Xerox PARC, Apple responded with the Macintosh, the first successful mass-produced computer with a mouse and GUI.

If you like this part, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, and Part 5. There's also a 3.1GB high-resolution version available via BitTorrent if you're down with that kind of thing.

Further information: read more about the documentary, view The Machine That Made Us (about the Gutenberg Press).