Processor Technology’s Sol-20: ‘The Small Computer That Won’t Fence You In’

Sol-20 10-23-77

Press photo: October 23, 1977

sol computer 1977

The Sol-20 was introduced in the July 1976 issue of Popular Mechanics and released by Popular Technology Corporation in December of the same year.

The Popular Mechanics article breaks “video computer terminals” into “dumb” and “smart,” the Sol-20 being “one of the most advanced of intelligent terminals.” Why is it so advanced? Because it’s “possible for two SOL terminals to communicate with each other without human supervision.” Brilliant.

SOL-20 Article

Sol-20 Ad

The ad is great too.

A lot of semantic nonsense is being tossed around by some of the makers of so-called “personal” computers. To hear them tell it, an investment of a few hundred dollars will give you a computer to run your small business… and when day is done play games by the hour.

But the few PCs that can handle “meaningful work… don’t come for peanuts.” Interesting how the company uses “small” instead of “personal”—small actually means bigger in this case, like a small pizza is bigger than a personal pizza. And how many Americans today would understand the phrase “semantic nonsense”?

Also, plunking the computer down in a hostile environment does not make it more attractive. The desert is a wide open space without fences because it’s so dessicated that nothing can live there.

Anyway, the point of the ad is to justify the Sol-20’s price tag. There was a reason only pediatricians could afford this puppy. The Sol-20 retailed for over $2000 assembled, or about $1000 as a kit. $2000 in 1977 amounts to almost $8000 today.

Processor Technology failed to deliver a next generation, and by May of 1979 they were out of business.

Technology moved pretty fast at the dawn of the PC revolution. If you didn’t stop and rob a bank once in a while, you probably missed it.

(Images via eBay and

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