by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2017
One of the chronic surprises in 20th and 21st century living is which technologies catch on like wildfire and become world-shaking and which stay "Ho-hum..." or become "This is the technology of the future... always has been, always will be." Part of the surprise is how much early adopters shape the evolution of the technology. Here is an example.
Minicomputers were developed to be smart accounting machines for small businesses -- they would do what mainframe computers did, only faster, cheaper and better for smaller organizations such as small businesses. This first use meant that they stayed proprietary and quite closed in both their hardware and software.
Personal computers, in contrast, first caught on big-time with hobbyists, not businesses. The big difference this made was the popularity of open source hardware and software. This allowed the personal computer evolution to happen quite differently from the minicomputer evolution.