Tech Time Warp: Personal Computers at the Olympics - July 1984

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Jul 8, 2016 12:54:08 PM

Olympics.jpgThe Olympic Games have been going on for centuries, and with this Tech Time Warp we’re going to dive back into 1984. The Summer Olympics were coming up a little under a month, many were excited to see not only their favorite competitors go for gold, but also the cool new technological advances. The 1984 Olympics were held in Los Angeles, California, and it was the first Olympic Games that wasn’t sponsored by the government. It was also the Olympics where the PC made its grand debut.

Personal Computers at the Olympics

In the July 1984 issue of Computing Magazine, Karen Freifeld wrote “Personal Computers at the Olympics” to explore the exciting new development. With the help of IBM’s donation of more than 200 personal computers and the integration of software programs such as Multiplan (used for tracking purchase orders, budgets, and data via time-sharing), the 1984 Summer Games became revolutionary.

“With an unprecedented 50 million dollars’ worth of technological equipment, about the only thing that doesn’t seem to contain a computer chip are the athletes,” Freifeld wrote. The computers were used for monitoring, scoring, budgets and even bus schedules.   These computers added extra simplicity to the games that greatly reduced aggravations.Olympic_Quote.jpg

Technology in the 2016 Olympic Games

Now that the Summer Olympics in Rio are right around the corner, numerous technological advances are getting put in the spotlight. So, what are the most anticipated new gadgets debuting in the 2016 Olympics? Here are a few of our favorites.

With the threat of the Zika virus and now talk about contaminated waters, engineers from Philadelphia University created wetsuits for U.S. rowers that have two layers, one of which protects from viruses and microbes. Even cooler than that, is are the magnetized socks, headgear, and body suits will register contact during Taekwondo competitions. The body gear was originally introduced in 2012, but the socks and headgear are new additions that will transmit impact to the sensors over Wi-Fi.Tech-Time

For the swimming events, this year will be the debut of underwater lap counters from Omega. They will be used for multiple events from the 800m and 1500m. Also, this year GPS devices will help viewers follow canoe and rowing events. Plus, courtesy of Visa, both athletes and visitors will have the option of using contactless payment through a wearable water-resistant bracelet. All 4,000 POS systems will have this feature for easy payment between events.

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the cyclists! The U.S. Olympic Committee has exclusive early-access to a new pair of sunglasses from Solos Smart Eyewear. What makes these sunglasses so special? “The 'Pupil' display sits directly in the eyeline of the cyclist allowing them to see key metrics like speed, power, distance, evolution, cadence and heart rate, plus more data from any number of connected sensors,” explained Chris Smith in an article for With just a slight tilt of the head, wearers can take a moment to view this as they race.

Perhaps the greatest technological development at the Summer Olympics this year, though, is the VR (virtual reality) cameras Getty Images will be using. According to a ZDnet article, “With the equipment, Getty will be able to produce imagery at the Games from a unique perspective, including the ability to, for example, rotate 360 degrees in any direction from one position for a fully submersed photo.”

With all these great technological advances showcasing in the Olympics, we are getting more and more excited for opening ceremonies to kick things off on August 5.

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

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