10 home computers at the start of the computer era

10 home computers at the start of the computer era 

The late 70s - early 80s of the last century became a period of the rapid development of home computers in the Western Hemisphere. The first "personal computer" is formally considered to be the IBM 5100, released in 1975, although in practice it was not: it was intended for scientific tasks and cost an unaffordable amount of money for individuals. The term  personal computer " or PC (PC) itself was coined by IBM and appeared with the release of the IBM PC (model 5150). Further, IBM itself released updated models, and third-party manufacturers released a lot of IBM PC-compatible ( IBM PC compatible) computers, architecturally similar to the IBM PC, allowing them to run their software. This is a topic for a separate material, but today we will stop and briefly recall the most popular home computers (incompatible with the IBM PC).
Early Computer Image

Commodore 64

Commodore 64 - one of the most legendary and best-selling computers of the time, was released in 1982 by the American company Commodore International and sold until 1994. It was significantly cheaper than its competitors IBM PC and Apple] [, but did not come with a monitor. This disadvantage was solved thanks to the presence of composite video output: the computer could simply be connected to the TV. In addition to the price, the popularity was also influenced by factors such as  16-color graphics and a separate sound processor, which the early IBM PCs and distribution not only in specialized stores could not boast of.
The computer was equipped with an 8-bit MOS 6510 processor with a frequency of 0.9 or 1.02 MHz, in later versions there were MOS 8500 and MOS 8510. The amount of RAM was 64 KB, the amount of which could be increased using a special slot. A special VIC II processor, displaying 16 colors, was responsible for the graphics, and the SID processor was responsible for the sound capabilities. To the  Commodore 64 it was possible to connect a  cassette recorder or a floppy drive as a storage device (eventually an external hard drive appeared) and joysticks, which made it possible to use the computer as a game console. huge amount of software and games have been released for the  Commodore 64.

ZX Spectrum

The main competitor of the previous hero of the article was the ZX Spectrum, which is also popularly known as Speccy, created in 1982 by the British company Sinclair Research Ltd. He and his numerous clones were more popular in Europe, and in the early 1990s - in the territory of the former USSR. Like the Commodore 64, it came without a monitor, connected to TVs, and was relatively inexpensive. The computer ran on an 8-bit Zilog Z80 microprocessor with a frequency of 3.5 MHz, the amount of RAM was  16 or 48 KB. By purchasing the 16 KB version, the user could upgrade the computer by adding another 32 KB.
The ZX Spectrum has a keyboard consisting of 40 rubber multifunction buttons. The computer could display 8 colors with two brightness levels and one-bit audio through the built-in speaker.  In the later model ZX Spectrum 128, a separate AY-3-8912 chip appeared for sound output. The computer used audio cassettes and floppy disks as a storage deviceA decent amount of peripherals were available, including a printer, storage, and gaming devices.

Atari 400 and 800

The American company Atari, specializing in games and game consoles, has released the Atari 400,  Atari 800XL  and  XE series computers since 1979,  based on the  8-bit MOS Technology 6502 processorLet's dwell on the classic models 400 and 800. The younger model was equipped with a  membrane keyboard and internal slots for memory, while the 800 had a full keyboard, user-accessible slots for RAM and ROM, and a slot for 8 KB cartridges. The amount of RAM was  4 KB in the 400 models and 8 KB in the 800, later it was increased to 8 and 48 KB, respectively. 
As with most computers of the time, it was intended to use the Microsoft BASIC programming language. The 6502 version was 12 KB and did not fit on an 8 KB cartridge, resulting in a slightly simplified version of  Atari BASIC. To connect peripherals, we used our own Serial Input / Output (SIO) connector, to which the devices were connected in series.


It is worth remembering the Amiga series of computers, in particular the first Amiga 1000, which was released in 1985 and became the world's first home computer capable of displaying more than 16 colors and running an OS that supported multitasking. Development began in 1982 by Amiga Corporation (originally called Hi-Toro, founded by former Atari employees), which was acquired by Commodore. The computer was equipped with a  Motorola MC68000 processor with a frequency of 7.14 MHz, the amount of RAM was 128 KB, then variants with 256 and 512 KB appeared.
The AmigaOS operating system was initially booted from a floppy disk, later ported to a persistent drive. It is conditionally divided into Kickstart (system software for loading the OS)  and Workbench  (graphical shell). Initially, the Amiga was equipped with one expansion slot, later the developers decided to make the computer as expandable as possible, for this the Autoconfig protocol was developed  -  automatic recognition by the system of plug-in cards (the progenitor of Plug and Play). The computer did not become particularly popular due to the small amount of software, which was mainly ported from other systems and did not fully use the capabilities of AmigaOS.


In the 1980s, the Japanese division of  Microsoft and  ASCII Corporation decided to create a single hardware standard for home computers, later called  MSX (Machines with Software eXchangeability). All hardware and software developments of the MSX standard from different companies were mutually compatible. The standard assumed the use of a Zilog Z80 processor with a frequency of 3.58 MHz, a Texas Instruments TMS9918 video controller with 16 KB of video memory, a General Instrument (GI) AY-3-8910 sound generator, and an MSX BASIC interpreter. The requirements for expansion cartridges and software were also clearly formulated.
MSX computers have been produced by a large number of well-known brands, including Sony, Yamaha, Goldstar (LG), and so on. Prior to the release of Nintendo's NES (Famicom), MSX was the main gaming platform for which many games were released, including by Konami. Since the mid-80s, MSX have been used in computer labs on the territory of the USSR, including export versions of Yamaha YIS-503 and YIS-805 computers with Yamaha Cyrillic characters (KUVT).

Apple] [

The Apple II (or Apple] [) was Apple's first and highly successful mass-produced computer, first introduced in 1977 at the West Coast Computer Fair and becoming one of the most successful computers of its time. It was delivered with a built-in keyboard, a connector for connecting a cassette tape recorder, and a supported color display in different modes ( text, graphic color with a resolution of 280x192 and 6 colors and low-resolution graphics, 40x48, 16 colors).
The computer was equipped with a MOS Technology 6502 processor with a clock frequency of 1 MHz, 4 KB of RAM expandable to 48 KB and 4 KB of ROM with a monitoring program and an Integer BASIC interpreter (Basic for integer operations). The sound was output to the built-in speaker, there were 8 expansion slots, 1 for additional RAM, the rest for external devices.

Tandy (RadioShack) TRS-80

In 1977, Tandy developed the TRS-80 computer. The implementation was handled by the RadioShack chain of stores, which Tandy has owned since 1963. Actually, the computer was sold under the RadioShack TRS-80 brand (later Model I). The processor was a Zilog Z80 with a clock frequency of 1.77 MHz (later -  Z80A). The amount of RAM was 4 KB, in later models -  16 KB. Monophonic compact cassettes were used as carriers, and a Radio Shack CTR-41 tape recorder was supplied.
The main advantages of the computer were a relatively low cost, a monitor included (black and white), relatively small size and a full keyboard. The main problem of the computer was the high level of radio interference it emitted, which eventually became the reason for its withdrawal from the market. Later, several more models were created, including those with a color monitor.

BBC Micro

British company Acorn, which created the Atom home computer in 1981, was working on an updated version called the Proton. At the same time, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began its BBC Computer Literacy Project about computers, in particular the TV series The Computer Program, for which they needed a computer with fairly broad (at that time) capabilities, including programming computer graphics, sound, work with text, control of external equipment and so on. Acorn Proton, later  BBC Micro, met these needs completely.
Like most computers of that time, it was equipped with a built-in keyboard, hit the market at the end of 1981, and was highly popular in its homeland. There were two main models, Model A and Model B (and its variation Model B +), which differed slightly in power. The computers used MOS Technology 6502A processors in Model A and  6512A in Model B clocked at 2 MHz. The amount of RAM was 16 and 32 KB, respectively (64 KB in Model B +). ROM: 32 and 48 KB, respectively. The keyboard consisted of 78 buttons, the Texas Instruments SN76489 chip was responsible for the sound.

BK electronics

It is worth remembering the creations of domestic engineers, in particular - the family of 16-bit computers BK (Household Computer) developed in the USSR, which were used for educational and home purposes and were compatible in the command system and partially in architecture with other compatriots of the DCK. In many ways, they inherited the  PDP-11 of the American company DEC. The models  BK-0010,  BK-0011 and  BK-0100 were released, each of which was produced in several versions.
They were distinguished by their internals, keyboard (film or full-fledged), the presence of  Focal and   BASIC- 86 interpreters (" BASIC Vilnius "), and so on. Models with the letter ะจ at the end were intended for educational purposes and KUVT (set of educational computer equipment) together with DVK-2MSh or DVK-3, which were used as a file server. Internals:  Processor: K1801VM1 (command system compatible with the overseas LSI-11/03 from PDP-11) with a frequency of 3 MHz (in BK-0011 / BK-0011M - 4 MHz), 32 KB of RAM and 32 KB of constant. The storage device was a cassette tape recorder.

DVK electronics

Last for today - above DCK (Conversational Computing Complex), as well as BC, architectural repeated  PDP-11 US companies DEC using advanced components and single-chip microprocessors. Produced in a number of models DVK-1, DVK-2, DVK-3, and DVK-4 (abbreviated names, full ones were of the form  Electronics H MS 01100.1).
Characteristics: microcomputer processors N MS11100.1 or MS 1201 (MS 1201.01) based on the aforementioned K1801VM1, 48 KB of RAM, 8 KB of ROM with interpreters of BASIC or Focal languages, alphanumeric display 15IE-00-013 or 15IE- 00-013-01 ( "Fryazinsky display", on which Tetris was developed ) and 15VVP80-002 thermal printer. The BK and DVK series were produced from the mid-80s to the early 90s.

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