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The 25 Greatest PCs of All Time


Bow Down to the King
Political User
IBM's first PC, announced on August 12, 1981, was far from the first personal computer--but when it arrived, there was near-universal agreement that it was likely to be a landmark machine. It was. And 25 years later, it still ranks among the most significant computers ever.

Like the IBM Personal Computer, Model 5150, the greatest systems have always had ambitions to boldly go where no computer has gone before. Without these innovative machines, the PC revolution would have been a lot less...well, revolutionary. So we decided to celebrate the IBM PC's 25th birthday by identifying the 25 PCs that have mattered most--from any manufacturer, and from any era.

No single characteristic makes a computer great. But we managed to boil down an array of winning qualities into four factors, all of which happen to begin with the letter I.

  • Innovation: Did the PC do anything that was genuinely new? Did it incorporate the latest technology?
  • Impact: Was it widely imitated? Did it become part of the cultural zeitgeist?
  • Industrial design: Was it a looker? Did it have clever features that made using it a pleasure?
  • Intangibles: Was there anything else about it that set it apart from the same ol' same ol'?

Armed with this scale, we considered dozens of PCs--which meant that we also had to consider the question "What is a PC, exactly?" Ultimately we decided that a PC is anything that's recognizably a desktop or portable computer in design--or, alternatively, anything that runs an operating system originally created for desktops and laptops. After a lot of nostalgic debate, we selected our winners. Which systems we picked--and didn't pick--for our Top 25 may be controversial. If one of your favorites didn't make our roster, check out our list of 25 near-great PCs.

Just to drum up a little suspense, we'll reveal the Top 25 starting with number 25, and then work our way backward to the single greatest PC of all time. (Spoilsports can skip ahead to number 1; we won't be any the wiser. You can also jump to the complete list of our Top 25 picks.)
  1. 1977 Apple II
  2. 1986 Compaq Deskpro 386
  3. 1981 Xerox 8010 Information System
  4. 1986 Apple Macintosh Plus
  5. 1992 IBM ThinkPad 700C
  6. 1981 IBM Personal Computer, Model 5150
  7. 1985 Commodore Amiga 1000
  8. 1983 Tandy TRS-80 Model 100
  9. 1982 Columbia Data Products MPC 1600-1
  10. 1991 Apple PowerBook 100
  11. 1998 Sony VAIO 505GX
  12. 1975 MITS Altair 8800
  13. 1984 IBM Personal Computer/AT Model 5170
  14. 1979 Atari 800
  15. 2001 Shuttle SV24 Barebone System
  16. 1977 Tandy TRS-80 Model I
  17. 1987 Toshiba T1000
  18. 1993 Hewlett-Packard OmniBook 300
  19. 2002 Apple iMac, second generation
  20. 1996 Gateway 2000 Destination
  21. 1998 Alienware Area-51
  22. 1993 Hewlett-Packard 100LX
  23. 1997 Apple eMate 300
  24. 2006 Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650
  25. 1982 Non-Linear Systems Kaypro II
Full Article: PCWorld.com

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