Glimpse of Small Business Computing in the 80s


Prior to the marketing of cloud and artificial intelligence there was the potential of personal computing. What was marketed to a small business owner in the 80's is more practical and achievable now than it was then. Finally there is a dependable stable operating system whether it's macOS, Windows, or Linux.

Imagine if you were a small business owner in the 80's who needed to prepare your direct mailing list, write a report, a letter, or prepare a estimate for your new client. A time when laying out a document was similar to writing html markup. Creating a spreadsheet involved typing commands and pressing key combinations. You begin to wonder if anyone received any return on investing from a personal computer at the time. Maybe only the most competent individuals managed to do anything productive. For the rest personal computer was possibly a show piece or a toy to play games on. In retrospect most of us take personal computers of today for granted.

Decorating cakes

For example a cake baker will need to plan for expected expenses for ingredients, deprecation of equipment, and other supplies. These projections would have to be made based on past sales and purchases. A personal computer would be suitable for this and you visit a local computer store.

Visiting a local computer store

For preparing a document for print you couldn't simply open App Store, or do a Internet Search, purchase, and download the required software. You had a series of discs to shuffle through while typing at a command prompt.

Preparing and printing a chart

Gif animation clip from a popular commercial at the time is purely marketing. The ease of adding a chart to a document and printing at a moments notice is more possible today than it was then. Since in the 80's switching software required switching discs.

Switching discs

As you further ponder and compare the recent past of personal computing to present. You begin to properly place practical prospects of new innovations in computing technology. Maybe a practical use for Augmented Reality is to display 3D signs on top of a directional street map on your phone. Taking fast measurements visually is possibly another practical usage for augmented reality. While Virtual Reality isn't worth the expense to digitally blindfold ourselves from the real world.

Further Reading and References

"60-Second IBM Commercial - Charlie Chaplin (Billy Scudder) and Millie Bunch:" (

60-Second IBM Commercial - Charlie Chaplin (Billy Scudder) and Millie Bunch:

"1984 IBM Personal Computer commercial." (

1984 IBM Personal Computer commercial.

"Instructions for Word Perfect" (

Instructions for Word Perfect

"Wacky Wonderful place" (

Wacky Wonderful place
Z Data Tech Last modified: October 13, 2019
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