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Commodore 64

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World’s most Popular Personal Computer The Commodore 64 sold over 15 million units and remains the most widely-purchased personal computer model of all time. Period: 1982-1994

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Commodore
  • CPU Type: MOS 6502
  • CPU Speed: 3 MHz
  • Memory: 64KB

Commodore VIC-20

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First Computer with 1 million+ Sales. Aimed primarily at the games and educational markets, it was the original low-cost computer with colour graphics as standard. Unlike its contemporaries, it was sold in supermarkets and toy shops rather than in authorised computer dealers thereby contributing to its mass market success. Games were available on ‘plug-in & play’ cartridges rather than just the slow-to-upload cassettes. Marketing included a series of catchy adverts featuring William Shatner (‘Captain Kirk’ of Star Trek) with the message “Why Buy Just A Computer Game?” aimed at encouraging parents to recognise its non-games applications of programming languages, practical applications software such as word-processing and a pioneering modem that allowed users to communicate externally using the telephone line to access external computers hosting online newspapers, electronic mail services and special interest groups Period: 1980-1985

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1980
  • Company: Commodore
  • CPU Type: MOS 6502
  • CPU Speed: 1.02 MHz
  • Memory: 5KB

Dragon 32

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Named after the symbol of Wales its country of origin. Launched in 1982, this home computer initially sold well. But its inferior graphics capabilities (compared to contemporaries such as the BBC micro) and lack of lower-case letters only meant that it soon lost out to its competitors.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Dragon Data
  • CPU Type: Motorola 6809E
  • CPU Speed: .89 MHz
  • Memory: 32KB

Sinclair ZX81
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World’s First ‘Cut Price’ Computer In 1980, the Sinclair ZX80 was sold for under £100. It had 1KB RAM and could be connected to a television set (text only) for viewing and to an audio-cassette recorder for storing programmes.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1981
  • Company: Sinclair
  • CPU Type: Zilog Z80
  • CPU Speed: 3.25 MHz
  • Memory: 1KB

Atari 2600

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This legendary console is recognised as popularising the concept of plug-in games. Was sold with two joysticks and a games cartridge

  • Type: video games console
  • Year: 1977
  • Company: Atari
  • CPU Type: MOS 6507
  • CPU Speed: 1.19 Mhz
  • Memory: 128 bytes

Nintendo 64
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The last of the fifth generation home video game consoles and the last Nintendo machine to use ROM cartridges to store games (it switched to a MiniDVD-based format for the latter GameCube). Most popular game: Super Mario 64. Sold c33 million units worldwide.

  • Type: video games console
  • Year: 1996
  • Company: Nintendo
  • CPU Type: NEC VR4300
  • CPU Speed: 94.75 MHz
  • Memory: 4MB

Amiga

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World’s First Multimedia Computer. The Amiga’s advanced animation, sound, graphics, & video technologies, Favourite in games/video sectors. The artist Andy Warhol showed the now famous digital art rendition of Debbie Harry at the launch of Amiga

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1985
  • Company: Commodore
  • CPU Type: Motorola 68000
  • CPU Speed:
  • Memory: 256KB

Acorn Atom

A home computer made by Acorn Computers Ltd from 1980 to 1982 that was a predecessor to the company’s legendary BBC Micro. Unlike many of its competitors such as ZX81 and Apple 11, the Atom could be bought in kit form. At its launch in March 1980, the company demonstrated a local area network known as Econet, with eight networked units allowing files to be shared and screens to be remotely viewed.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1980
  • Company: Acorn Computers
  • CPU Type: MOS 6502
  • CPU Speed: 1 MHz
  • Memory: 2KB

Oric-1

First colour computer to be sold in Britain for under £100. Sold c210,00o units in 1983. Ceased production in 1984

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1983
  • Company: Oric Products International
  • CPU Type: MOS 6502A
  • CPU Speed: 1MHz
  • Memory: 16KB

Compaq Portable

The ‘Suitcase’ computer’ was the world’s first IBM PC compatible portable computer & ancestor of today’s laptop. Compaq was an abbreviation of ‘Compatibility’ (with IBM PC) and ‘Quality’. It came standard with a 9″ green screen, dual 5.25″ floppy drives and a keyboard that could be folded inwards to take the shape of a suitcase. An upgrade version came with a 10MB hard disk and one floppy drive.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Compaq
  • CPU Type: Intel 8088
  • CPU Speed: 4.77 MHz
  • Memory: 128KB

Compaq LTE

One of the first computers to be the size of a paper notebook, spurring the use of the term ‘notebook’ to describe a smaller laptop. It was also amongst the first laptops to include both a hard disk and floppy drive as standard

  • Type: laptop
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Compaq
  • CPU Type: Intel 80C286
  • CPU Speed: 12 MHz
  • Memory: 640KB

Omni Reader Scanner

Launched in 1985, the OMNI-READER from Oberon International was the one of the first low-priced desktop Optical Character Recognition/Reader (OCR) or scanners. An A4 text page was scanned by a read head unit mounted on a transparent plastic ruler (for alignment) which had to be moved by hand from side to side. The device scanned the text, translated it into ASCII-coded characters and sent it to software on a computer through a RS232 serial port. It normally took two to three minutes to input an A4 page into a computer . However the Omni-Reader only recognised four different type styles, namely Courier 10, Courier 12, Letter Gothic 12 and Prestige Elite 12 which though represented eighty percent of the most commonly used type faces in business during the mid-1980s. It was priced at circa £460 in Britain and $699 in the USA.

  • Type: scanner
  • Year: 1985
  • Company: Oberon International
  • CPU Type:
  • CPU Speed:
  • Memory:

Compaq Portable III

Nicknamed the ‘lunchbox’, the Compaq Portable III represented a great advance for personal mobile computers being lighter (20 pounds), smaller with a basic higher memory and a larger hard disk drive (20 Meg) than its predecessors. It had screen pivots for adjusting the viewing angle of the screen.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1987
  • Company: Compaq
  • CPU Type: Intel 80286
  • CPU Speed: 12 MHz
  • Memory: 640KB

Microfiche Reader

A type of photographic film that contains micro reproductions of images and text that was commonly used until recent times by libraries, banks and other archival establishments to store documents such as books, research papers and magazines. This storage medium consists of single sheets of film that are usually just a few inches long and wide which can hold information in a size too small to be seen by the naked eye. It was the first medium that could store material in a microcosmic reproduced format allowing large amounts of data to be kept in very small spaces. These sheets could be viewed through a special device that worked like a magnifying glass. The microfiche reader had a glass covered plate, onto which a microfiche sheet was placed. A lamp and a magnifying lens projected the focused image onto a screen similar in size to a computer monitor. Microfiche is a highly stable archival format. It is estimated that, in the correct environment, the medium could store information up to 500 years Microfiche was invented in 1961 by an American Carl O. Carlson.

  • Type: microfiche
  • Year: 1961
  • Company: Bell & Howell
  • CPU Type:
  • CPU Speed:
  • Memory:

Powerbook 180

Part of a series of Apple laptops introduced in 1992. It used a ‘Trackerball’ user interface that was originally developed by the Canadian navy. It came standard with a 1.44 MB floppy disk drive and 80 MB

  • Type: laptop
  • Year: 1992
  • Company: Apple
  • CPU Type: Motorola 68030
  • CPU Speed: 33 MHz
  • Memory: 4MB

Macintosh

The Apple Macintosh launched in 1984 was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface or icons rather than a text-based and typed commands interface. Broadcast at the annual NFL’s Super Bowl, its TV commercial ‘1984’ became an instant success and is still one of the most best-remembered product promotions of all time. Directed by the famous Ripley Scott (Aliens, Blade Runner, Gladiator), its message borrowed heavily from Georg Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, portraying Apple as the young good-looking idealistic innovator liberating mankind from the cold uncaring authoritarian blandness of the ‘Big Brother’ computer establishment.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1984
  • Company: Apple
  • CPU Type: Motorola 6800
  • CPU Speed: 8 MHz
  • Memory: 128KB

Apple iMac G3

The computer that returned Apple to the all-in-one design concept of the original Macintosh and represented Steve Jobs return to the helm of the corporation that he founded. The trendy egg-shaped translucent candy coloured iMac capitalized on the growth of the internet, naming the computer with the prefix ‘i’ to symbolise a personal system able to easily access the Internet for browsing the web and writing emails. It abandoned the diskette (3.5″) drive recognising the future lay with recordable CDs, networks and the Internet. Apple became, after a decade in the doldrums, once again relevant and the great pioneering in personal communications technology.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1997
  • Company: Apple
  • CPU Type: PowerPC G3
  • CPU Speed: 233 MHz
  • Memory: 32MB

IBM PS/2

IBM Personal System/2 or PS/2 was IBM’s third generation of personal computers and represented an attempt to regain preeminence in the PC market by introducing an advanced proprietary architecture. Thanks to the corporation’s considerable market presence, the PS/2 sold well. However the computer ultimately failed in its bid to return control of the PC market to IBM, due to it possessing a ‘closed architecture’, requiring other manufacturers to make royalty payments to IBM in order to develop and sell hardware compatible with the platform, which raised costs for equipment purchasers at a time when the an alternative architecture was leading to a dramatic reductions in price.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1987
  • Company: IBM
  • CPU Type: Intel 803286
  • CPU Speed: 6 MHz
  • Memory: 2MB

Digital VT180

Known as the ‘Robin, the VT180 was a VT-100 terminal with the addition of a interface board that allowed it to connect to external drives and run the CP/M operating system. It could still operate as a VT-100 terminal. Used the RX-180 dual diskette drive system.

  • Type: video terminal
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)
  • CPU Type: Zilog Z80
  • CPU Speed: 4 MHz
  • Memory: 64KB

Digital Rainbow 100

Represented the minicomputer giant DEC’s entry into the microcomputer market. The Rainbow had a distinct dual processor unit which allowed it to run both Z80 based CP/M and 8086 based MS-DOS and CP/M-86. It could also be used as a VT-100 terminal. However it entered the market to late to effect the dominance of the IBM PC.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)
  • CPU Type: Zilog Z80 and Intel 8088
  • CPU Speed: 4.012 MHz and 4.815 MHZ
  • Memory: 64KB

Epson HX-20

World’s First Laptop Launched in 1981, the Epson XH-20 represents a milestone in computer history as it is recognized as the world’s first laptop. It weighed only 3.5 pounds, had a built-in dot matrix printer, a mini-cassette tape drive for storage, a LCD screen, keyboard and a rechargeable nickel-cadium batteries. The notebook unit came in a neat plastic case. Very popular at the time and over 250,000 units were sold.

  • Type: laptop
  • Year: 1981
  • Company: Epson
  • CPU Type: Hitachi 6301 dual processors
  • CPU Speed: 614 Hz
  • Memory: 16KB

Minitel

Represents a key milestone in the story of online communications technology, as it was available a decade before the arrival of the World Wide Web. Launched in 1982 by French telephony company PTT (Poste, Téléphone et Télécommunication). Early exponent of interactive Videotex (Videotex) allowing users to access online information over a telephone line, & considered one of world’s most successful pre-World Wide Web online services. Information services accessed included travel reservations, shopping purchases, mail services and telephone directories. Millions of terminals were handed out free to telephone subscribers in France resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. Introduced to Ireland by Telecom Eireann (now Eircom) in 1988.

  • Type: videotex
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: PTT (Poste, Téléphone et Télécommunication)
  • CPU Type:
  • CPU Speed:
  • Memory:

Amstrad CPC 464

Amstrad, founded by celebrity entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar in 1968, entered the microcomputer market in 1984 with the Amstrad CPC range. Amstrad’s most successful range was the Amstrad PCW which was introduced in the following year.. Principally designed as a Word Processor complete with printer, floppy drives, monitor and LocoScript word processing software. In its first two years over 700,000 PCWs were sold, gaining 60s% of the UK home computer market, and 20% of the European personal computer market, second only to IBM’s 33.3% share

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1984
  • Company: Amstrad
  • CPU Type: Zilog Z80A
  • CPU Speed: 4 MHz
  • Memory: 64KB

Commodore Pet

Realised in January 1977, the Commodore Pet is labelled the world’s first ‘real’ computer with its range of advanced standard features: – built-in storage device (tape originally), monitor, numeric keypad, upper/lower case text, high resolution graphics, RAM expandability and expansion ports.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1977
  • Company: Commodore
  • CPU Type: MOS 6502
  • CPU Speed: 1 MHz
  • Memory: 4KB

Tandy TRS-80

One of the world’s first mass produced computers and was sold through a chain of international computer stores (Tandy/Radio Shack). Carphone Warehouse bought the British Tandy stores in 1999.

  • Type: personal computer
  • Year: 1977
  • Company: Tandy
  • CPU Type: Zilog Z80
  • CPU Speed: 1.78 MHz
  • Memory: 4KB