The Best Classic Computers
Welcome to my Vintage Computer review!
Do you remember the Commodore Vic-20 or the 64? Maybe you had an Odyssey 2 when you were younger. How about an Atari 400? If you don't recognize these you soon will, these were some of the first home computers ever released and I want to tell you all about them. Before they were called PC's they home computer had another name. The Microcomputer.
The most advanced piece of technology in your home! - The Microcomputer and how it affected our lives
Growing up with two older brothers, I couldn't help but be drawn into the world of computers from a very young age. Our first family computer was a Commodore VIC-20 and it was the greatest thing in the world.
These computers fell into the category of Microcomputer. By definition, a microcomputer usually has a microprocessor as the CPU. With the operating system hard coded, add a video adapter for your TV, sound features, a keyboard and BAM, you have a micrcomputer that starts up instantly ready to do your bidding.
Sure, there were video game systems back then: the Atari 2600 decked out in woodgrain, the Colecovision or even the Intellivision. All the way back to the Magnavox Odyssey. They were all fun, but microcomputers were just magic. The possibilities: limitless.
Those of you that grew up during the advent of the Microcomputer, may remember this:
Or did you ever try clearing your screen like this:
Perhaps you were a bit more industrious and fashioned yourself a Microcomputer programmer:
10 PRINT "WHAT IS YOUR NAME?"
20 INPUT A$
30 PRINT "HELLO "; A$
This was the time of the Microcomputer, 1970s-1986, and it was fantastic. Until these computers came out, the most advanced piece of technology in anyone's home was their TV.
Favorite Vintage Computer
What was your favorite Vintage Computer?
Great Vintage Computer Finds
For those of you who are new to vintage computers and to the veterans, here are a few items of interest available on eBay:
Computers and Early Internet Ideas
The Technology and Peripherals - Early Microcomputer Gear
The Commodore 64 still holds the record for highest quantity of one type of computer ever sold! Sales peaked at around 17 million units sold! Even today, no one has been able to match that number.
The Microcomputer was like magic: you just pushed a button and it was on, much like a light switch. No boot-up process or wait time, these computers just worked. (Most of the time)
My brother had purchased his own microcomputer using his hard earned money from the fast food restaurant he worked at while in high school. He purchased a Tandy TRS-80 CoCo 3. This was a Color Computer made by Radio Shack and really packed a punch. Although it wasn't compatible with all the software from the previous CoCo releases, it had better graphics, memory and processing speed, among other upgrades. It came with a fantastic game, Dungeons of Daggorath.
A D&D style vector graphic game with creepy sound effects. It was keyboard controlled and loads of fun. Since I was younger I had to have my brother in the room if I played because I would get scared when a monster popped up from around a corner! The computer had game cartridges, an external floppy disk drive and 2 joysticks. It easily beat out the family Vic-20 and soon everyone was using the CoCo.
As for my Vic-20, the primary mode of data storage was limited to data tapes and had a read/write speed of about 300 baud. 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drives eventually made their debut but were considered highly unstable and slow.
Most modems were typically connected to a coupler where your phone's handset was placed on top so the computer could dial the number. Internet? Pshawwww! BBS's (short for Bulletin Board Systems) were the place to go. Eventually we were given CompuServe, founded in 1969, and the world grew a little more interesting.
Other popular microcomputers included the Coleco Adam which came with a daisy wheel printer and tape drives. Atari made the great 400 and 800 series, which were famous! Several of my friends had the touch sensitive keyboard version, the Atari 400, since it was designed for a youth. Apple had a great set of computers out that were very popular as well, from the Apple II series up to the Macintosh.
Mattel, Sinclair, Phillips, Texas Instruments, Apple, Atari, Magnavox were just a few of the companies producing computers from the 70's to the early 80's. There were so many different kinds to pick from, I remember how much trouble we had picking one out. It came down to my father putting his foot down and making a decision based on adult logic. . . He picked the one that William Shatner was promoting. After all, he said, he is Captain Kirk and they have lots of computers on his space ship! Who can argue with that.
Commodore Vic-20 Commercial - William Shatner
A list of popular Microcomputers
Below you will find a list of some of the more popular Microcomputers and yes, I threw in a couple IBM machines for perspective during the same time period. They are listed in no particular order, simply grouped by manufacture.
Commodore PET -1977
Commodore 64 -1982
Commodore VIC-20 -1981
Amiga 1000 -1985
Coleco Adam -1983
Texas Instruments TI-99/4 -1979
Texas Instruments TI-99/4A -1981
Atari 400 -1979
Atari 800 -1979
Atari 520ST -1985
Atari 1200XL -1982
Atari 600XL -1983
Atari 800XL -1983
Atari 65XE -1985
Atari 130XE -1985
Magnavox Odyssey -1972
Magnavox Odyssey 2 -1978
Apple I -1976
Apple II -1977
Apple III -1981
Apple III Plus -1983
Apple IIc -1984
Apple Macintosh -1984
Radio Shack TRS-80 -1977
TRS-80 Color Computer -1980
TRS-80 CO-CO 2 -1983
TRS-80 CO-CO 3 -1986
Sinclair ZX80 -1980
Sinclair ZX81 -1981
Sinclair ZX Spectrum -1982
Mattel Aquarius -1983
IBM PC -1981
IBM PCjr -1984
There were many more computers and clones available, but these are the ones I remember. Many sold in regular department stores or local electronics shops, but all were pretty easy to obtain.
Apple IIc Commercial - 1984
Best Games on Microcomputers
I thought that this article would not be complete without a list of some of the best games from this era. Many of these went on for years and have modern day incarnations still in play!
If you are interested in Classic Video Game Consoles, then check out this link!
Cosmic Cruncher, Radar Rat Race, Avengers, Omega Race, AstroBlitz
Dungeons of Daggorath, Wildcatter, Space Wreck, Microbes
Boulder Dash, Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, Centipede, Congo Bongo, Defender, Donkey Kong, The Dukes of Hazzard, Galaxian, Pitstop, Q*Bert
Berserk, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids
Simply a small selection in a list of literally thousands of games!
Texas Instruments TI-99 - Bill Cosby
The Bottom Line - Why buy a Vintage Computer?
Well, the questions are whether or not to buy a vintage computer and what would I use it for?
For the fun in experimenting with older technology.
For the purpose of learning where our home technology evolved from.
For the great games we loved in years past.
For the nostalgia.
For the memories, both old and new!
I recently bought a nephew of mine a used Tandy TRS-80 CoCo 3 with a disk drive and loads of games. My brother thought I was nuts. But after my nephew opened it, assembled it and started to play, my brother apologized. In no time my nephew was programming and experimenting with the machine. I showed him the secret Easter Egg in the computer where you push the reset button along with CTRL and ALT and you will see a secret picture the original programmers wrote into the machine's memory. We keep the secret between us.
I'm now called Aunt Awesome!
Links to Personal Favorite Sites
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- Classic Video Game Consoles
Remember the Atari 2600, Colecovision or the Intellivision. How about Q*Bert or Space Invaders or Joust? Check out the best and worst of the original Video Game Consoles!
- Order and Chaos for iPad
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- Best iPad Apps for Students
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- Dynasty Space - Web Page Templates
Web page templates for all occasions!
- eBay Store How-To
A site dedicated to information on creating the perfect eBay store.
- City of Heroes Review
A great online game where you can be a hero or villain. A Nice change from all the fantasy games out there. Free to play.
Hey everyone! Did I miss one of your favorite computers? Tell us here so we can all join in and reminisce.