Early computers were mostly text-based machines. Yet design is a highly visual activity. To help bridge that gap, companies developed specially designed graphical workstations.
Research groups and universities built the first workstations, such as MIT’s 1970s LISP Machine. Large corporations were key customers for graphical workstations, using them for electronic and mechanical design because personal computers were too slow and lacked sophisticated graphics.
As personal computers grew more powerful, however, the rationale for dedicated workstations eroded. In the 1990s software companies began adapting design applications for PCs using Windows.
This publicity photo shows a “Real Time VAX” being used to acquire data in a laboratory. Other applications included automation of manufacturing plants and control of particle accelerators in physics labs.View Artifact Detail
Apollo’s first microprocessor-based graphical workstation shipped in 1981. Later machines used a proprietary bit-slice processor. Applications included simulation, VLSI design and AI. Apollo suffered from having used proprietary operating systems and networks and was eventually acquired by HP.View Artifact Detail