History: December 26, 1982: First Ever Non-Human Time Man of the Year

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A Brief History

On December 26, 1982, Time Magazine broke with tradition and for the first time ever named a non-human as its “Man of the Year”  (MOY) when they named the Personal Computer the cover model of its iconic issue.

Digging Deeper

Of course, the “Man of the Year” title is somewhat dated, as since 1999 the “award” has been officially called “Person of the Year” (POY) and the tradition goes back to 1927 when the magazine named aviator Charles Lindbergh as its first person recognized as most influential in the world, whether for good or for bad.  In fact, not to be confused with an award, the Time designation is merely recognizing the relative importance of the person or (since 1982) object or idea as “Person of the Year.”

Certainly many highly esteemed people have gotten their picture on the cover of Time’s annual MOY or POY issue, such as Franklin Roosevelt, Mohandas Gandhi, George Marshall, Winston Churchill and the like, as well as many US presidents and corporate titans, but goofs such as Stalin, Hitler and Ayatollah Khomeini have also been named.  The magazine has also named groups of people or a type of person instead of an individual, such as American Women (1975), The Peacemakers (1993), The American Soldier (2003), The Protester (2011) and The Ebola Fighters (2012).

In keeping with the tradition of including non-human subjects for consideration, in 1988 Time named The Endangered Earth as their POY.  In 2006 the selection committee at Time made one of their most controversial selections by naming “You” as its POY.

The selection of the Personal Computer in 1982 marked a technological benchmark in human history, acknowledging the ascent of computers into the lives of private individuals instead of only in the hands of big business and governments.  First invented in 1965 by Olivetti (Italian office machine and typewriter maker), Hewlett-Packard and IBM soon followed with their own entries into the market and Apple first sold its Apple I circuit board and computer kit in 1976.  The first mass market home computer was the Commodore PET in 1977, quickly followed by the Apple II and Tandy TRS-80.  The rush was on, and a new market was being developed.

At first these home computers were used for word processing and data storage, keeping track of personal finances and the like, as well as for playing the early video games rapidly being developed for them.  The precursors of the Internet were barely available until the start of what we would know as the “Internet proper” in 1988, and the World Wide Web in 1991.  Now, of course, the home computer is a mainstay in nearly every household, in one form or another.

The 2015 Time Person of the Year is Angela Merkel, PhD, chancellor of Germany, recognized for her leadership in the European economic crisis (Greece) and the massive refugee problem due to war in the Middle East.

So who or what do you predict will be the Person of the Year for 2016?  Give us your best guess, and tell us why you think so.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Time Magazine January 3 1983 Machine of the Year the Computer Moves On (Paperback)


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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.