Archive for the ‘1980s’ Category

Texas Instruments TI-99

Texas Instruments TI-99/4A

Texas Instruments TI-99/4A

Texas Instruments has always been a leader in microprocessor technology. After a few years as a top manufacturer of electronic calculators using their custom microprocessor technology, and a foray into minicomputer systems using their 16-bit TI-990 processors, Texas Instruments decided to throw its hat into the ring of the home computer market in 1979 with the TI-99 computer system. Continue reading Texas Instruments TI-99…

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Atari 400 and 800

Atari 800, courtesy of Justin Knight

Atari 800, courtesy of Justin Knight

Atari began development of the 400 & 800 in 1977, using the code names Candy (400) and Colleen (800).  Rumor has it that these names came from some “hot” secretaries there at Atari.  Candy was originally intended to be the next generation of the video game system, to replace the VCS.  Colleen was intended to be the true home computer with all the bells and whistles that would make it superior as a computer to Candy, including peripheral ports and expansion capability.  Some people may not know that there was actually a third machine being designed at the same time called ‘Elizabeth,’ which was the Colleen design but with a built- in 13 inch color monitor. Continue reading Atari 400 and 800…

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Sinclair ZX80

Sinclair ZX80 Ad

Sinclair ZX80 Ad

What happens when you strip most of the metal from those earlier homebrew computers, toss in a third-party Z-80 clone CPU, and have what’s left expertly bound together by a disciple of a miniaturization luminary? You get the compact ZX80 personal computer!

The Sinclair ZX80 was released in 1980 and was arguably the first British personal computer, though the company had previously released the MK14 in 1977, and Acorn had released a similar product, the System 1 in 1979. However, both of those were simply single-board computers and the ZX80 was complete in a case. It was named after its CPU, along with an “X” for “the mystery ingredient.” Clive Sinclair (now Sir Clive) willed it into existence at Science of Cambridge, his company later be known as Sinclair research. It was targeted to individual, ordinary users, and it was the first British micro to go on sale for under £100. It was available in kit form for £79.95, and as a ready-built version for £99.95. Some 50,000 would be sold before the ZX80 was discontinued in 1981. This was significant, and the UK lead the world in personal computer ownership throughout the 1980s. It was succeeded by the barely different ZX81 in 1981, which was also sold in the US as the Timex Sinclair 1000. The ZX series of computers went on to sell over 1.5 million units by 1984, before being discontinued. A large cottage industry of programs, magazines and products arose around it. This commercial success made Sinclair Research one of Britain’s leading computer manufacturers and earned a fortune and the eventual knighthood for the company’s founder. Continue reading Sinclair ZX80…

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Kaypro

Andrew Kay was the son of Russian immigrants and grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from MIT in 1940 with an engineering degree, then he moved to California to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena before moving to San Diego County in 1949 to join Bill Jack Scientific Engineering. In 1952, he invented the digital voltmeter to precisely measure electrical current. A year later, he founded Non-Linear Systems. In 1981, Non-Linear Systems decided to design

Kaypro II

Kaypro II

a personal computer to compete with the popular Osborne 1 portable. Though briefly called the “Kaycomp II,” the “Kaypro II” was actually the first marketed model of the computer. This was because in 1982, a daughter company was organized called the Kaypro Corporation and thus the computer was rechristened with the same name.

Continue reading Kaypro…

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