Chronicles Revisited Podcast 7 — Two Plane Crashes That Changed PC History

Zenith Data Systems (ZDS) was a company often featured on ‘Computer Chronicles’ for its innovative PC compatibles. ZDS was never a major presence in retail, but it enjoyed great success in the government, business, and educational computing sectors throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. But after closing its doors in 1996, the Zenith name effectively disappeared from the American computer landscape and faded into history.

Yet there’s another name–Heathkit–that is still fondly remembered today for its DIY electronic kits dating back to the 1950s. Heathkit was actually the progenitor of Zenith Data Systems. And the story of how the Heath Company traced its own history back to a pair of airplane crashes that occurred 23 years apart provides an interesting look at how the modern PC industry was shaped by human events that had nothing to do with microprocessors.

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