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Datapoint (originally named the Computer Terminal Corporation) was a ground-breaking business computerized information processing company.

Its most significant products was the Datapoint 2200, introduced in late 1970; the first mass-produced personal computer intended for ordinary people. It was originally notionally a programmable video terminal (so that a single hardware design, with appropriate firmware, could emulate many different kinds of terminals). However, customers quickly learned that they could program it, and it tapped into a hitherto unseen market.

The 2200 had an even bigger indirect impact, though: its CPU was initially intended to be a custom chip - what eventually came to be the microprocessor. None existed yet, so CTC contracted with Intel to produce one; that chip was the Intel 8008 (just about the first microprocessor ever). That evolved into the Intel 8080, from which the entire Intel x86 line developed. (Due to a funding crunch, the 2200's CPU was eventually actually constructed out of discrete SSI chips; the intent was to eventually replace the original CPU with the chip version, to reduce the unit cost.)

The company's business plan from the time the founders started out had always been to produce a personal computer, but that goal was left unspoken when the company started, lest it spook investors as too grandiose (the same reason that DEC initially manufactured Programmed Data Processors, instead of 'computers'). Their first product was the Datapoint 3300, a video terminal intended to replace Teletypes (hence the company's original name); it was moderately successful.

The company was ultimately unsuccessful because it failed to foresee and/or adapt to the evolution of the computer world to the ubiquitous IBM-compatible PC, which killed off all company-specific designs, and turned PCs into a commodity business.

Further reading

  • Lamont Wood, Datapoint: The Lost Story of the Texans Who Invented the Personal Computer Revolution, Hugo House, Englewood, Austin, 2012

External links