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In the year 2007, it is easy to forget what the field of personal computers looked like back in the early days of home computing (assuming that you were even alive and a computer user then). My first PC (circa 1983) was a Sinclair ZX-80 model that had a membrane keypad, used a cassette tape deck for storage, and connected to a television display via a video converter.
My first program beyond the obligatory "Hello World!" variety was one that plotted a sine wave and cosine wave on the screen. From there, I moved on to a VIC-20, and finally to my first "real" PC, an ATT 6300 (in 1987, while at the University of Vermont, working on my BSEE). The ATT6300 came with two, 5-1/4" floppy disk drives and no hard drive. It was a real step up when I installed a whopping 10 MByte internal HDD, and then even added an 8087 math processor to assist the 8086 processor. Its green monochrome monitor had a really weird resolution that almost NO software was designed for, so it could cause display problems. UVM required all engineering students to buy one from them, at around $3,000, as well as an HP dot matrix printer that cost around $450. It was common up until about 1990 for colleges to mandate computer models because of the large incompatibility between designs. We love to hate Windows, but Win 95 sure did fix a lot of the incompatibility problems.
While working as an electronics technician at Westinghouse, in Annapolis MD, I did some HP Basic programming on an HP machine whose model number I cannot recall. With it, I wrote programs to control an impedance meter via the HPIB, and that really psyched me up for programming. The rest, as they say, is history.
The table below was made from information that appeared in a 1981 edition of Mechanix Illustrated. You can find information and photos of most of them simply by doing a Google search.
|Imagination Machine||$399||6800||Typewriter||TV-8 colors||Yes||9k/17k||14k||Built-in|
Apple II Plus
|$1,380||6502||Typewriter||TV-16 colors||Applesoft||16k/64k||16k||Not incl.|
|$898||Z80||Typewriter||TV-256 colors||Yes||32k/64k||24k||Not incl.|
|$540||6502||Plastic touch Typewriter||TV-16 colors||Atari BASIC||8k/16k||10k||Not incl./Opt.|
|$1,080||650||Plastic touch Typewriter||TV-16 colors||Atari BASIC||8k/48k||10k||Incl./Opt.|
|$1,195||Z80||Calculator||Built-in B&W||Yes||4k/32k||12k||Not incl.|
|$299||6502||Typewriter||TV-16 colors||PETBASIC||4k/32k||27k||Not incl.|
|$2500||Z80||Typewriter||B&W monitor||Microsoft BASIC||32k/48k||16k/48k||Not incl.|
|$1,695||2/Z80||Typewriter||B&W monitor||HBASIC||8k/64/i||8k||Not avail.|
|$2995||8080A||Typewriter||Color monitor||Microsoft BASIC||16k/32k||16k/24k||Not avail.|
|$219||n/a||Calculator||TV-color||To come||4k/32k||4k/16k||Not incl.|
|$529||6502||Typewriter||TV-B&W||Microsoft BASIC||8k/32k||10k||Not incl.|
|$1,795||Z80A||Typewriter||Built-in B&W||CBASIC, Microsoft BASIC, CP/M||64k||16k||Not avail.|
|Pers. Micro Comp.
|$645||Z80||Typewriter||TV-B&W||TRS-80 BASIC||16k/48k||12k||Not incl.|
|$399||6809E||Calculator||TV-9 colors||TRS-80 BASIC||4k/16k||8k/16k||Not incl.|
|$699||Z80||Calculator||TV-9 colors||TRS-80 BASIC||4k/48k||8k||Not incl.|
|$610||6502||Typewriter||LED display||Yes||1k/48k||16k||Not incl.|
|$199||ZX80||Plastic touch||TV-B&W||Yes||1k/16k||4k/16k||Not incl.|
|$649||9900||Calculator||TV-16 colors||TI and Extended BASICs||16k/32k||26k/56k||Not incl.|
|CyberVision 2001||$329||1802||Plastic touch||TV-8 colors||No||2k/32k||1k||Built-in|