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World’s First PC Rediscovered by Accident in UK House Clearance

The Commodore 64 one of more than 60 computers including world's 1st PC rediscovered
House clearers in the UK rediscovered two Q1 microcomputers, which are thought to be the world’s first single-microchip PCs. Image: Commodore 64. credit: Kingston University

House clearers in the UK made a rediscovery of two Q1 microcomputers, believed to be the world’s first single-microchip PCs. This finding adds to the world’s count of surviving units, now totaling three.

Brendan O’Shea, the founder of Just Clear, explained that his team stumbled upon the Q1s while clearing a property on December 18th. These computers, dating back to the 1970s, were tucked away under various boxes. They were previously utilized by an oil drilling company. Another unit of the same model is speculated to be located in Scandinavia.

Initially, the employees at Just Clear were puzzled by their discovery. After consulting with an expert, Brendan O’Shea learned that these devices were groundbreaking. They were the world’s first fully integrated desktop computers powered by a single-chip microprocessor.

O’Shea said, “Our teams find all sorts of things while clearing houses on a daily basis, some with historical significance, but never did I imagine that we’d find something so important to the field of technology and the history of computing.”

“Occasionally, we encounter items deemed important enough to preserve and archive for the future in an auction sale or, in this case, an exhibition. I’m told that these models are extremely rare, so to find a pair of them is beyond exciting.”

Q1 was the world’s first computer to run on a single chip

The Q1, manufactured by the American Q1 Corporation in 1972, stood out with its industrial build, featuring an orange and black design along with a plasma display. It is hailed as the forerunner to today’s desktop computers.

This computer marked a big step forward in computing history. Before the Q1, computers used multi-chip microprocessors. However, the Q1 was revolutionary, as it was the first to run on a single chip, specifically the Intel 8008.

“There would be no PCs, no Macs, no Apple or Android phones without the Q1 Corporation,” remarked Paul Neve, a computing professor and exhibition co-creator at Kingston University in the UK.

“The early pioneers in the 1970s and 1980s laid the foundation for today’s ‘everything’ device—the modern computer, which is so ubiquitous in everyday life,” said Neve.

The exhibit features sixty different computers and gaming devices, such as Atari, Sinclair ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Sinclair QL, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad, Commodore, and the Dragon 32.

After the free exhibition at the university’s Penrhyn Road campus in Kingston upon Thames concludes, the Q1 computers may be auctioned off or sold privately, as reported by Daily Mail.

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