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Home Computers

Many a parent introduced their children to computers in the early 80's hoping it would help with the homework or turn them into computer programmers, imagine their dissapointment when they proved to be great for playing games. Still the mass invasion of spectrums some 5 million of them and several million Commodores ensured the UK grew up with computers in their homes ready for the computer dominated world we have today.

(1977) TRS-80 Tandy Radio Shack

First released a good 3 years before the spectrum the TRS-80 was one of the first home computers. With the release of a device called the Expansion Interface it had many of the features still present even in todays modern PCs such as expandable memory (16 or 32kb RAM), storage medium (tape and later disk), a printer port, a floppy disk controller, a serial port and a real time clock.

1979 PET Commodore

Commodore's first computer featured a 1 mHz proccessor and 4k RAM and one of the first computers to have its own built in monitor. More popular in the US but there are still a few to be found around today, working models are getting harder to find.

(1980) ZX80 Sinclair

After making calculators and digital watches Clive Sinclair designed the ZX80, originally it came in kit form and was a electronic hobbyists dream. Boasting a whopping 1k of memory expandable to 4k with add on.

(1981) ZX81 Sinclair

A Year later the ZX81 was released based on the same Z80 processor Clive Sinclair effectively created the UK computer market in the 80s. This was probably the first widely available home computer selling at outlets such as Whsmiths and Boots.

(1981) T1-99 Texas Instruments

Perhaps more famous for Speak and Spell the T1-99 was Texas Instruments offering to the home computer market. Features a cart slot and of course a speech synth add on.

(1981) Vic 20 Commodore

Very popular with Commodore selling more than 1 million. Its name comes from its video chip VIC (Video Interface Chip) and its memory size (5 kb RAM + 15 kb ROM = 20 kb).

(1982) ZX Spectrum

Many peoples first introduction the world of computing, despite a lack of a proper keyboard , rubber keys, poor sound and limited colours the Spectrum was a revelation that saw kids across the country coding simple games typed out from magazines, some of the best games companies around today started producing games for the spectrum such as Rare and CodeMasters.

(1982) BBC Micro Acorn

A very popular computer here in UK as it was widely used in schools, but it didn't really make much of an impact in the home market. Notable games such as Elite proved it wasnt just an educational toy.

(1982) Oric 1 Oric

At one point this seemed like a serious rival to the Spectrum but it could never compete with the likes of the C64 and Spectrum. 16 KB of memory and a very similar look to the spectrum.

(1982) Dragon 32 Dragon Data Ltd

Another attempt to rival the Spectrum and Commodore 64 the Dragon 32 from Dragon Data also quickly fell by the wayside. Not even its massive 32k of memory could save it. One of its characteristics is partial compatibility with the Tandy TRS 80 Color Series.

(1983) MSX Various

Early attempt to establish a single standard in home computing. It was designed by a company called ASCII in Co-operation with Microsoft who provided a firmware extended version of Microsoft BASIC. See MSX Page for more info on msx versions.

(1984) CPC464 Amstrad

Popular because of Amstrads typical low price although it required its own monitor rather than a standard tv connection like most other home pcs at the time. Also used the Z80 processor.