First Computer Store

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Fri Jul 24 13:51:48 CDT 2015

On 07/24/2015 11:00 AM, Richard Loken wrote:

> I am sort of curious about whether a computer store in 1975 sold only parts
> and kits or whether assemble self supporting packages were starting to
> appear.  Was this still the era of the front panel and the S100 bus or had
> they move onto stuff like the Kaypro and the Apple ][?

I vaguely remember (it's been 40 years) that there was a complete MITS 
system for demonstration and that you could order and purchase board and 
system kits.  I wasn't terribly interested in Apple, so don't remember 
much of them.  In early 1976, their offerings were pretty thin, but they 
attracted a lot of interest.

I do recall that other outfits such as Jade Computer Products had retail 
stores--there was one on El Camino in Sunnyvale, for example.  Around 
1982-83, I recall visiting them trying to decide between a 
Compupro/Godbout S100 8086  or 85/88 setup and the then very new NEC 
APC.  (I ended up going to San Jose and buying a IBM PC, which I thought 
was ridiculously overpriced).  I decided against the really awesome APC 
due to lack of technical documentation--for $100, I could get complete 
circuit diagrams and BIOS listings for the IBM PC.  My friend who ran a 
bicycle parts operation, settled on a Morrow MD3, which came with 
software and printer for much less than the PC.

All in all, it's remarkable to reflect back on the number of B&M retail 
stores that were set up to sell computer gear in the early 1980s.  TI 
had computer stores which also sold calculators (I recall one in the 
Stanford Shopping Center), Sears sold PCs as well as others from their 
computer stores; CDC had a retail operation; Xerox did also.  Then there 
were the general-purpose business retail operations such as Moore and 
Inmac.  Of course, Radio Shack sold their own brands also.  And that's 
not counting software sales outfits, such as Egghead.

Compared to what's around now, it feels a lot less crowded.  But the 
same is true for electronic surplus places, such as Halted, Haltek, ACE, 
Weird Stuff....


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