Peoples Computer Company


This is the place to upload all your PCC memorabilia.

Note that we will also have separate pages for ComputerTown, USA!, Dr. Dobb's Journal and perhaps other PCC projects and spinoffs. Since this is a 'working page' and not the final exhibit you can put any PCC related files, images or comments here and we'll move them as necessary.

HCLE does respect old-style copyrights. If you contribute copyrighted material, tell us what you know about its status. If we can't get appropriate permissions to republish it we will take it down. Of course, any stories or commentaries you write about PCC are your work and posting them here implies your permission for us to use them. It will be helpful if you add a Creative Commons Copyright notice to anything you own.

PCC Major Players:

  1. Bob Albrecht
  2. Dennis Allison
  3. Joanne Koltnow/Verplank
  4. Howie Franklin
  5. Dean Brown
  6. LeRoy Finkel
  7. ...
  8. ...

PCC Newsletter

  1. PCC Magazine - Thanks to our new (2014) arrangement with Stanford University Libraries Special Collections, you can now see the first issues of the PCC Newsletter!
  1. Dr. Dobb's Journal
  2. Peoples Computer Center
  3. ComputerTown, USA!
  4. ...
  5. ...
  6. ...

One of the Stanford Librarians blogged about PCC soon after the newsletters were scanned. Doris got most of her piece right but she incorrectly categorized PCC as a hobby club. Actually, it was a publication, not a club. Later, the publishers started an educational center in Menlo Park called Peoples Computer Center. It's little mistakes like this that "change history". A goal of HCLE is to have as much of the story told by the people who were there as possible. Scroll down to read about the beginnings of PCC from the dragon's mouth (that's Bob Albrecht).

Speaking of Copyright issues,

HCLE and Stanford University Libraries Special Collections wanted to obtain the right to republish People's Computer Company. We contacted the originators for permission. After several email exchanges Bob Albrecht sent us the following commentary. Stanford decided this was adequate documentation to go ahead and make the files public.

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Once upon a time there was a non-profit corporation in Menlo Park, CA called Portola Institute ( It began with Dick Raymond, Bob Albrecht, and Bob's wife Mary Jo Albrecht. Soon they were joined by Leroy Finkel, who took a sabbatical from teaching at Woodside High School so that he could work with Bob and Mary Jo at Portola Institute to promote the use of computers and calculators as tools and toys for learning and teaching.

Bob, Mary Jo, and Leroy obtained a contract from Hewlett Packard to write "teach yourself" instructional stuff for HP's new programmable calculator, the HP 9600 (I think) that cost $4900 (I think). This contract changed Portola Institute's cash flow to flip from negative to deliciously positive and allowed Portola to rent space for Stewart Brand, who ... but that's another story for another time.

Bob was able to obtain loans of programmable calculators, notably Wang Laboratories, who made a programmable calculator that "time shared" four keyboards by direct wired connection. High school students Marc LeBrun and Tovar heard about these marvelous machines, wandered into Portola, and asked if they could play with them. Bob's immediate response -- as his eyes lit up -- was yes, yes, yes. Bob loved kids who were smarter than he was.

One day Marc LeBrun suggested that we call ourselves Dymax, in honor of Bucky Fuller's Dymaxion World. We did and became the Dymax division of Portola Institute.

Gaia turned. The Dymax bunch split from Portola and moved to a warehouse in Redwood City. Stewart Brand exploded the Whole Catalog onto the world.

Jerry Brown, Jane Wood, and Tom Albrecht (Bob's son) joined the Dymax team. Bob wrote and the team published My Computer Likes Me: When I speak in BASIC. Alakazam! Judy Wilson from John Wiley and Sons walked into our place and asked us to write BASIC: A Self-Teaching Guide. That too is another story for another time.

Bob yearned to be editor of a periodical for anyone, everyone about learning how to use computers, using computers to help learn and teach math and science and other stuff, playing games on computers, et cetera, et cetera. Leroy said that we could do it if we could do it cheap.

We began with a 16-page newspaper-format periodical called People's Computer Company, inspired by Big Brother and the Holding Company.

The first issue was volume 1, number 1 October 1972. The masthead said:

We did this issue

Bob Albrecht
Mary Jo Albrecht
Jerry Brown
Leroy Finkel


Marc LeBrun, Jane Wood, Tom Albrecht



IS a newspaper

about having fun with computers
and learning how to use computers
and how to buy a microcomputer for yourself or your school
and books ... and films ... and tools of the future ...


is a place
... a place to do things that People's Computer Company talks about
... a place to play with computers -- at modest prices
... a place to learn how to use computers

AND NOW HARRY, here are some words I think you will like:

We (Bob Albrecht, Mary Jo Albrecht, Jerry Brown, and Leroy Finkel) who created People's Computer Company, the periodical, intended that it be public domain.

Mary Jo, Jerry, and Leroy are diseased. Only I remain. When People's Computer Company, the non-profit corporation was formed, we gave People's Computer Company, the periodical to People's Computer Company, the non-profit corporation, with the understanding that People's Computer Company, the periodical would continue to be public domain. [This does not include People's Computers and Recreational Computing]

Hey! The above covers ONLY the time that I was editor and the periodical was called People's Computer Company.

Phyllis Cole became editor and changed the name of the periodical to People's Computers. Please contact her about copyrights -- if any -- for issues beginning after my tenure.

Reality expands to fill the available fantasies.

Bob & George

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