It took last year’s 30th anniversary of the personal computer for the IT community at large to discover its originator is a Canadian. Toronto-based inventor Mers Kutt holds the distinction of creating the MCM-70 microcomputer well before anything else came onto the scene.
The IT pioneer and past president of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), Kutt is also the creator of several IT inventions such as the “key edit,” a data preparation system which succeeded the IBM “punch card” in 1968. But it’s the PC that Kutt is finally getting recognition for.
The fact that knowledge of the MCM-70 toiled in relative obscurity until now can be attributed to various factors, Kutt said. After developing a data entry system and being forced out of one company, Consolidated Computer Inc., Kutt founded Micro Computer Machines. It was on September 25, 1973 when Kutt and Micro Computer Machines officially showcased the 20 lbs. personal computer powered by an Intel Corp. 8008 microprocessor. At the time, it was a groundbreaking notion to consider personal use computing, Kutt said.
Up until last year, it was the MITS Altair 8800 PC that had been recognized as the first PC. Not anymore. The MCM-70 was a breakthrough for the development of user-friendly and cost-effective microcomputing. About the size of a typewriter, the machine included a plasma screen, cassette drives and a keyboard. The computer featured two to eight kilobytes of RAM and 14KB of ROM; the operating system’s virtual memory function boosted the actual memory up to a whopping 102KB.
The $4,500 MCM-70 was intended to be extremely user-friendly, Kutt said. The microcomputer was initially geared towards accountants, actuaries and others desiring a desktop machine to run simple applications such as spreadsheets. Today, Kutt still invents, and with his Toronto-based firm All Computers Inc., is currently developing technology that he says will change the computing world as we know it.
And that would be a second time.