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This Week in Tech History: Electric Washing machine & First IBM Personal Computer

On this edition of "This Week in Tech History", Chris takes us back to early in the 20th century for the first electric washing machine. Also featured, the first IBM personal computer.

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mimeographThis week in 1876 – Thomas Edison of Menlo Park, NJ patented the mimeograph machine. He described it as a method of preparing autographic stencils for printing. We don’t use mimeographs much these days, thanks to paper copiers and computers. The mimeograph worked by first creating a master which was placed on a large rotating drum. A purple ink would then print out on paper. Duplication has changed a lot in 140 years.Edison_and_phonograph_edit1

Just one year later in 1877 – Edison finished figuring out his first phonograph. He handed the model of his invention to John Kreusi with instructions on how to build it. Kreusi bet the inventor $2 and said that there was no way that the machine would ever work. He lost the bet.

1896 – Harvey Hubbell of Bridgeport, CT received a patent for the pull-chain, electric-light socket! Pull the chain, the light goes on. Pull it again, the light goes off.

washing11910 – Alva Fisher of Chicago, IL received a patent for an invention that moms, grandmas and single guys certainly came to appreciate: the electric washing machine. Previous to Fisher’s invention, washing machines were cranked by hand  — or you used a washboard.

1981 – IBM introduced the personal computer with their 5150 model. The IBM PC ran on the Intel 8088 microprocessor at 4.77 mHz. It had 16 kilobytes of memory, no built-in 2009-08-20-clean-IBM-ATclock or video capability — it was available however, with an optional color monitor. Prices started at around $1,500. The IBM PC was a smashing success and IBM quickly became the #1 microcomputer company, dropping Apple to #2. That was 35 years ago.

Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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