20 most influential PCs of the last 40 years. (PC Mag)

Curious, that since many on this board seem to be early adopters/obsessives, how many on this list you have used/owned?

The 20 Most Influential PCs of the Past 40 Years | PCMag

I have had 7 of them :crazy_face: , starting with…

The Compaq Portable PC- That was actually a work provided, shared device that was used by my group when we had to make extended trips in the field.

PC’a Limited Turbo PC- Dell before it was Dell. my first work provided desktop PC

NEC- UltraLite- I didn’t purchase it myself but won it at a trade show. Easily one of the most promising, and also frustrating devices I’ve ever owned. I ended up selling it to my boss after about 4 months, and he used it for almost two years until it was stolen.

Poqet PC- I got one of these on an open box closeout from a local PC dealer that went out of business (a sadly common thing at that period) for about 1/3 of retail.

Apple PowerBook 170- IMHO the first truly great laptop portable with an outstanding monochrome display. I stupidly went into serious debt to buy it, but OTOH i had it and uses it constantly for nearly 4 years.

Surface Pro- multiple iterations starting with the Pro 3 up to the current work provided Pro 9 5g. IMHO one of the genuine radical innovations in portable PCs

iMac- I didn’t buy the very first Bondi Blue version, but the 2nd gen Tangerine as a family computer for my kids, which I still have today and still works as a classic gaming device, especially one of my all-time favorite games, Dark Castle.


Lessee, I had:

  • GRiDCase III Plus — essentially a GRiD Compass PC-compatible — one of the nicest things I’ve ever owned
  • 128KB Apple Macintosh — really should have upgraded it to a 512KB “Fat Mac” and bought a hard drive for it — but they were expensive
  • PS/2 Model 50 — a used one from a computer store I was working at for a while until I gave it away
  • NEC Ultralite — was fortunate to be able to return it for store credit when the backlight went out
  • NeXT Cube — a gift from my brother-in-law, had both the original 25MHz motherboard (which I never got around to cutting a trace on to use as a print spooler) and the 33MHz motherboard upgrade — still have it, and an assortment of monitors and other NeXT slaps, including some color machines, as well as a laser printer, and (still in the box it came in after being refurbished) a NeXT Color inkjet printer — the only hardware I don’t have is the single speed CD-ROM — replaced it w/ a faster Apple unit (but at one time, I had one of everything, and light would warp in that corner of the family room). Also have a Sparcstation which I installed OpenSTEP on. I really need to find time/space to dig all this stuff out, set it up, and see what still boots or no.
  • Apple iMac — used one at work for a brief while — it was so fast at first, one of the reasons I was using it was I was one of only a few people who could cope w/ how fast the font menu scrolled

Still wish I’d picked up a Surface Pro, but it didn’t seem a sufficient upgrade from the Fujitsu ST-4110 I was using at the time, esp. w/ the latter’s transflective display.


Fun topic.

1984: Apple Macintosh (“Fat” one in late 1984)

1991: Apple PowerBook 100 / 140 / 170 (180)

2007: Asus Eee PC

2012: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

… And that’s it. Can’t count the Surface Pro since I started with the second one. I had the PowerBook 180, not listed, but it was close after the others so I count it. I almost bought the 128KB Mac with free upgrade offered at Businessland, but I chose to wait a couple months for the 512KB.

I’m sure everyone has favorites that weren’t listed. For example, starting the list with the IBM PC leaves out important early computers, and the writer explains why. One can argue for other milestones but it is what it is.

My adoption is sparse because I was Mac from 1984 to 1998 then I built my own Windows desktops exclusively till that Eee PC caught my fancy in 2007.

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Ah the good old days! :slight_smile: For those wondering why the C64 etc aren’t on the list, they clarified it in the comments:

This piece was only about PCs covered in PC Magazine. We generally covered computers running OSes by Microsoft, and Apple’s Macintosh models. So we did not cover the Amiga, Apple IIgs, Atari ST, or other OS platforms

I owned the original IBM PC, the AT and the Surface Pro on the list. I had access to the Compaq “portable” at work.

The Grid, however, was the first object that gave rise to my technolust. At the time, I was using a Tandy 102 as a portable device. I think the Grid was close to $5,000.00 dollars. My love for the design led me to buy a Zenith Z181 the day it was released. From then on, it was notebooks/portables for me.

The one device I would add to the list would be the 12" Thinkpad 201t, the first really functional notebook/tablet for me and the start of the quest for the perfect handwriting device.


Yeah maybe somebody like ARS or Wired could do the top 20 of all time, all inclusive.

I’d certainly put the original Amiga, the Apple II and the Tandy TRS 80 and T100,and Toshiba t1100 on that list.


I agree 100% with your additions @Desertlap, especially the T1100 which was a laptop game changer. For me, I had only five:

IBM PC/XT (and subsequent AT)
PC Limited Turbo PC
Dell XPS 13
Microsoft Surface Pro


I only owned the Surface Pro 1 from that list as influential device. Also almost bought the Acer R7 (the one with the ezel hinge and nvidia 750m) but backed out at the time because the cpu was getting outdated and its successor had no discrete gpu.


I am on the younger end of the spectrum so many in the article admittedly predate my birthdate by a good margin, but for me, I’d say…

IBM PS/2: My father had a latter release in my earliest years growing up and it was my first time exposure to a real hearty and happening PC.

Apple iMac: My school district was inundated in Apple. We had an Apple lab with vintage early 90s models in one wing during my elementary years (complete with Number Muncher as well as the original Midnight Rescue from the Super Solvers series) and I recall it being upgraded to iMacs. I also saw the iMacs in middle school and high school in the school libraries.

ASUS Eee PC: This was my first laptop and man was it a wonderful little computer for playing music, web browsing and just tinkering and brainstorming away.

Microsoft Surface Pro: Admittedly, I never touched the OG, but I eventually got the Surface Pro 2 and that was my first foray into professional tablet PCs, the meat after the milk to get weaned off a $99 Dell Venue Pro 8 that I had been using from the highly publicized Microsoft Store Christmas doorbuster sale that finally gave up the ghost.