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View Poll Results: Top 70s & 80s 8-Bit Home Computer Manufacturer

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  • Acorn - Atom, BBC Micro A & B, Electron

    12 16.44%
  • Amstrad - CPC, PCW

    4 5.48%
  • Apple - Apple II, Apple IIe, Apple IIc

    4 5.48%
  • Atari - Atari 400, Atari 800

    4 5.48%
  • Commodore - Commodore PET, VIC-20, Commodore 64, C128

    26 35.62%
  • Dragon Data - Dragon 32, Dragon 64

    3 4.11%
  • Jupiter Cantab - Jupiter Ace

    1 1.37%
  • Oric - Oric 1, Oric Atmos

    2 2.74%
  • Sinclair - ZX-80, ZX-81, Spectrum

    22 30.14%
  • Tandy Radio Shack - TRS-80, TRS-80 Color Computer, TRS-80 Model III, etc.

    1 1.37%
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Thread: Top 70s & 80s 8-Bit Home Computer Manufacturer

  1. #1
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Top 70s & 80s 8-Bit Home Computer Manufacturer

    I initially learnt to program 8-bit computers at school on a Research Machines 380Z, and progressed at home through a TRS-80, BBC Micro and Commodore 64 which for me was the ultimate home computer before the 16-bit Amiga came along.

    The poll above is listed by brand mainly due to the ten item limit, and most home computer owners seemed to be more loyal than I was. There are some notable and not so notable omissions from the list so apologies if your preference is missing.

    My vote narrowly goes to Commodore over Acorn, pretty much entirely due to the C64 SID chip, but it's a close run thing.

    What was your favourite, and why?
    Last edited by Mr Curta; 7th July 2019 at 15:16.

  2. #2
    Master zelig's Avatar
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    Acorn for me - I still have my BBC Model B somewhere in the loft...

    z

  3. #3
    Master Mouse's Avatar
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    None of the above I'm afraid Matthew :-(

    I only had a Sinclair Spectrum, but didn't find it very useful or impressive, so I couldn't call it a favourite. Sold it after a few months when they were the 'big thing' for Xmas, and I had people begging me to sell it to them for more than I paid!

    After that there was a break of quite a few years until I really got into things with MS-DOS PCs.

  4. #4
    Craftsman
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    Don't remember any of those .

  5. #5
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    My progression was: ZX-81, Electron, Model B, Master, Master 512 internal second processor, Atari 520STFM, then a 386SX PC, and PCs ever since.

    I still think that BBC Basic and Clarion Professional Developer (on DOS) were the most productive programming languages I have ever used. And BBC Basic was definitely easiest to get it into.

  6. #6
    Mine was BBC B then Sinclair QL for a short while. Still got both of them in the loft.

    Programming was a lot simpler in those days.

  7. #7
    Master
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    Atari 8 bit for me, followed by an Amiga 500. Great for games!

  8. #8
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    No idea about programming although I did copy in a BASIC game of MASH from a mag on my original Dragon 32. Unfortunately it kept crashing - the helicopter that is!

    When Dragon went bust I bought a Spectrum 48 as it had the best games. I wouldn't like to use that keyboard for programming though.

    So my vote went to the Spectrum.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

    My Speedmaster website:

    http://www.freewebs.com/neil271052

  9. #9
    Master
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    ZX81 for me, then Spectrum, then the Commodore 64.

    Manic Miner :-)
    Last edited by Devonian; 7th July 2019 at 17:03.

  10. #10
    Craftsman Matt London's Avatar
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    Sinclair Spectrum 48k. I played a few games on it, programmed it to display the Union Jack while playing God Save the Queen.

    I really wasted my parents money on that thing!

  11. #11
    Craftsman
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    Dragon 32 for me.
    That first Christmas spent typing in page after page of code from “Your Computer” magazine - I think the end result was a Dig Dug game or something similar.
    Months of my youth spent playing Defender.

  12. #12
    Master
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    Zx spectrum 48k.

    Beautiful, cheap and great games.

    Sent from my CLT-L09 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Master village's Avatar
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    I started of with a ZX-81 which had (deep breath) a 16k ram pack. I spent hours typing programmes into it with the hope that something mildly exciting would happen at the end.
    'Course,if a fly farted two counties over it would cause the ram pack to wobble and crash.
    Happy days.

  14. #14
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by village View Post
    I started of with a ZX-81 which had (deep breath) a 16k ram pack. I spent hours typing programmes into it with the hope that something mildly exciting would happen at the end.
    'Course,if a fly farted two counties over it would cause the ram pack to wobble and crash.
    Happy days.
    Hehe, yes. I had a third ram pack, possibly a Memotech (can't remember now). It came with velcro to help keep it fixed in place but, even so, it could still wobble and vape everything.

    Oh the torture, the delicious torture.

    And did I really type in long listings with that keyboard? I know I did but I can't quite believe it.
    Last edited by markrlondon; 7th July 2019 at 18:54.

  15. #15
    Craftsman
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    ZX81 and Spectrum for me. They are both in the loft. The trick was a full pack of blu tack to hold the RAM steady. Oh the days of missing a comma after typing in 4 pages of program out of a magazine.
    It would only load some games from the cassette player on the lounge stereo which made for a fun time with 18" leads and a portable B+W TV.

    Actually I wouldn't change them times for anything.

  16. #16
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    The least said about my experience with RAM packs the better. I spent one afternoon with a ZX81 and that was enough. Fortunately staff at our local Tandy seemed quite happy for school kids to spend their Saturday mornings demonstrating their rather more robust (and expensive) products for free.

  17. #17
    Master
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    I was a C64 man then upgraded to Amiga 500

    So many hours / days / months / years blown.

    Strange as I have a PS4 but no longer have the desire nowadays. Sure games were more fun back then :)

    Give me the Last Ninja, Commando, Treasure Island Dizzy etc over the latest greatest lol

    Though im quite partial to GTA on the rare occasion!!

  18. #18
    Master Caruso's Avatar
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    I had a ZX Spectrum, but always preferred the BBC Model Bs that we had at school.

  19. #19
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    My favourite (in that range, I was an Apple II+ type of guy, with 2 floppy readers, chat mauve card that doubled the RAM to 128 Kb(!) and had a peritel graphic interface etc) was the Jupiter Ace.



    I made my engineering project with it, instead of using the Uni’s computer as I would have had to punch cards...

    When the jury saw it working (from a cassette tape player ) I think the penny dropped and they realised their computer had exceeded it’s sell by date.
    Don't take my silence for agreement. I've just realised you're too stupid to argue with.

  20. #20
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    the Jupiter Ace.



    I made my engineering project with it, instead of using the Uni’s computer as I would have had to punch cards...

    When the jury saw it working (from a cassette tape player ) I think the penny dropped and they realised their computer had exceeded it’s sell by date.
    I had some friends who had a Jupiter Ace but its reliance on Forth meant they never really got into it.

    Well done for persevering with it!

  21. #21
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    I absolutely loved forth. Being a HP calculator fan, I was familiar with the gymnastics of RPN. Manipulating stacks came naturally, and it was so compact.
    Don't take my silence for agreement. I've just realised you're too stupid to argue with.

  22. #22
    Craftsman
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    I started with a zx81 then a C64 then an Atari ST. Taught myself basic, then assembler then C.
    After that it was PCs which were never as interesting.

    My personal favourite was the ST loved that it was just you and the memory with very few bolt on bits of hardware. It wasn’t as good objectively as an Amiga but it was more fun to work on. To me anyway.

    I also through work had exposure to the Atari falcon 030. That was pretty cool with a dsp coprocessor.

    Now I work with mostly ARM based stuff, weird processors that are ‘cost effective’ or phone/ web stuff.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  23. #23
    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    I absolutely loved forth. Being a HP calculator fan, I was familiar with the gymnastics of RPN. Manipulating stacks came naturally, and it was so compact.
    You are Leo Brodie and I claim my $5.

  24. #24
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Starting F was a bit of a bible... it was so long ago
    Don't take my silence for agreement. I've just realised you're too stupid to argue with.

  25. #25
    Journeyman
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    C64 was *the* thing to have back then. There were two opposing "camps" here, C64 owners and ZX Spectrum owners. Both were very influential, but I was a C64 owner and damn proud of it! :)

  26. #26
    I started programming at school in about 72 using Fortran on punched cards at the local polytechnic, Trent Poly. We used to write it out on coding sheets, hand them in and a week later the cards would come tied with an elastic band with the print out of the result attached. My dad ventured forth with Sinclair at home, hence my vote. I suppose it sparked an interest which persists to this day.

  27. #27
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catch21 View Post
    My dad ventured forth with Sinclair...
    Nah, it was the Jupiter ACE that ventured Forth

  28. #28
    Craftsman
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    None of the above for me. We had a Video Genie in the house in the very early 80s, but I was a bit young to make much use of it. If I recall it was a TRS-80 clone with B&W display through a 12" portable TV and had the luxury of a built-in cassette deck for loading programmes. My elder brother got quite good with it and has continued with a programming career to this day.

    That was replaced with an Amstrad PC1512, complete with twin 5 1/4 floppy drives - happy days, although I was for ever accidentally sitting on the disks and bending them beyond use which drove my old man nuts.

  29. #29
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvoje View Post
    C64 was *the* thing to have back then. There were two opposing "camps" here, C64 owners and ZX Spectrum owners. Both were very influential, but I was a C64 owner and damn proud of it! :)
    Ahem, BBC Micro was the superior option!

    ;-)

  30. #30
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markrlondon View Post
    Ahem, BBC Micro was the superior option!

    ;-)
    It just needed this :-)
    https://www.retro-kit.co.uk/page.cfm/content/BeebSID/

  31. #31
    Sadly, but perhaps predictably, MSX isn't even in the list :(

    I did have a ZX81 before that though. Mazogs is probably one of the most under-appreciated games of all time.

  32. #32
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    We didn't have a 'home' computer, but my little brother was understandably delighted to find this TW3 reminder for me in the local paper a little while ago (Apple IIe, the first one in NI, I believe).


    Last edited by nickk; 9th July 2019 at 09:39.

  33. #33
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    Hah! Ok, I admit, quite a cool idea.

  34. #34
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owl1 View Post
    Don't remember any of those .
    That's because you haven't lived.

  35. #35
    Master KavKav's Avatar
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    What I do remember is although this hardware is nothing nowadays, at the time it was fascinating and 16K of RAM was swagger material! How times move on!

  36. #36
    No Gameboy there?

    We had a C64 at home and BBC-B at school
    It's just a matter of time...

  37. #37
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onelasttime View Post
    That's because you haven't lived.
    I did have an Atari (didn't see it on the list at first )

  38. #38
    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KavKav View Post
    What I do remember is although this hardware is nothing nowadays, at the time it was fascinating and 16K of RAM was swagger material! How times move on!
    I can remember purchasing the 2 extra 256 x 4 bit RAM chips to double the standard 256 bytes of memory my Science of Cambridge MK14 was originally supplied with.

    If you are really missing the old style minimalist hardware you could always order yourself one of these kits.

  39. #39
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Anyone have an Altair 8800 back in 1974? I was 3 at the time so no, I didn't have one. ;-)

    It was the early 70s 'personal computers' like the Altair that set the scene for the 80s computing heavyweights that we've been discussing here.

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Omegamanic View Post
    No Gameboy there?
    Only just 80s, but yeah, Nintendo should probably be on that list. They were never as big in the UK as they were in the US until the Gameboy came out though. I've got a NES now, largely out of an interest in game design and those early games like Mario & Zelda were hugely influential. And in fact way ahead of almost all games of that era. Was completely oblivious to them at the time though.

    There is a plausible theory that the reason the UK punches above its weight when it comes to IT and computer science is that while the Japanese and Americans were all playing Mario on their Famicoms and NESes, we had to type in Basic listings from the back of magazines to get some disappointing version of Missile Command (later possibly involving some gorillas).

    Having an obscure computer like the MSX was in a way, beneficial, as it made it a lot harder to get hold of decent games.

  41. #41
    Gameboy was a games console not a computer.

  42. #42
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    Gameboy was a games console not a computer.
    Indeed, this why Nintendo games consoles didn't make the list. I bloody loved Tetris though. As an aside, "Tetris: From Russia with Love" is an excellent and entertaining BBC documentary about the creation and subsequent wrangling over the rights.

    Quote Originally Posted by robt View Post
    Having an obscure computer like the MSX was in a way, beneficial, as it made it a lot harder to get hold of decent games.
    Sorry about the MSX. Along with the likes of the Grundy New Brain, Camputers Lynx and Toshiba HX10 it didn't make the cut. I taught myself to program assembly language and BASIC on the 380Z and TRS-80 because the software that I wanted simply didn't exist.

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    Gameboy was a games console not a computer.
    That distinction is debatable, but fair enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    ...Toshiba HX10 it didn't make the cut.
    That was probably the most common MSX in the UK, but not the only one. I had a Sony. I suppose if you included all the MSX makers the list would get quite long, as there were something like 20 of them. It was actually an architecture, a bit like the PC, except it was intended to be an open standard from the start. It's one of the more interesting things to have come out from that time and a bit of a shame it was ultimately such a commercial failure (despite being a huge commercial success by some measures).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    I taught myself to program assembly language and BASIC on the 380Z and TRS-80 because the software that I wanted simply didn't exist.
    Technically off the main topic since I didn't have one at the time, but I picked up a TRS-80 model 100 not long ago and it's bloody brilliant. It's pretty incredible that those were around in 1983.

  44. #44
    Grand Master TheFlyingBanana's Avatar
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    I had a ZX81, then CBM-64, then Amiga.

    The Commodore was simply astonishing at the time, and way ahead of the Speccy in terms of the graphics and particularly the sound. The SID chip was a revelation (3 channels + white noise). What the programmers did with 58k of usable Ram back then was incredible - sampled speech, full sprite graphics with smooth parallax scrolling, rotoscoping humans.

    And Rob Hubbard was a sonic god.
    So clever my foot fell off.

  45. #45
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    I remember we had Commodore 64s at school which I didn't really take to, preferring my typewriter. When I first got into IT at work we had Research Machines 286s but I've always had a grudging respect for the Acorn Achimedes so that's where my vote goes.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    I remember we had Commodore 64s at school which I didn't really take to, preferring my typewriter. When I first got into IT at work we had Research Machines 286s but I've always had a grudging respect for the Acorn Achimedes so that's where my vote goes.
    Wasn't an 8-bit computer though...

  47. #47
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    Wasn't an 8-bit computer though...
    If you want to split hairs you'll note that the poll is about the manufacturer and not the device.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    If you want to split hairs you'll note that the poll is about the manufacturer and not the device.
    That's true but I imagine the OP was thinking we would vote for the manufacturer of our favourite 8-bit computer.

  49. #49
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    I just needed a way to reduce it to a list of ten due to the poll restrictions TBH. If someone’s favourite home computer of the era was something else like the impressive TI-99/4A I’d still like to hear about it.

  50. #50
    Journeyman
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    Used Commodore Pet at school. Then BBC B. Had an Acorn Electron at home. Dad had a video shop that also sold and rented video games so the shop had a Spectrum, Commodore 64 and a Dragon 32 (with various upgrades that he used to sell as well). Plus an Atari VCS. Happy, happy days!

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