6 Computers That Remind You Of The 1980s

Posted on by (DanQuixote)
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The 1980s. Some say it was crap, some say it was good, but most agree it was the decade after the 1970s. The music charts were full of electronic music that sounded like R2-D2 in one of his long depressive and contemplative moments, and the cinema had films showing us we could make money by ripping off old people and their pensions and enjoy wearing shoulder pads large enough for a Concorde to land on.

Life was simple in the 1980s. If you were cheeky you would get a clip ;round the ear from a policeman, teacher, postman, or social worker. You could make your hair as big as you wanted and not worry about the ozone hole forming above your head... and computers were really slow and bulky. Here are 6 computers straight out of the '80s. Enjoy the time warp and hug your PC when you're done reading.

1. His Royal Highness, The Commodore 64

The coolest kids had the Commodore 64. Didn't matter if you had an Atari, Vic 20, Apple, or Cray sitting at home, no one cared unless you had a C64. Why? Well, not because it looked sexy, but because of the huge amount of games you could buy for it. 10,000 titles were made available for this creamy brown cinder block. Did you own one of these gaming beauties? Did your friends always choose your house to visit even though you didn't have a hot mom? Do you remember titles such as "Popeye Gets Frisky With Olive," "Drippy Drainman," or "Septic Merkin"? No, because I just made them up. But it did have awesome games like "International Karate," "Ghostbusters," and "Boulder Dash." Produced from 1982 until 1994, the C64 was the iPad of its day and shifted around 15 million units.

2. The Right Royal ZX Spectrum

The "Speccy." Just looking at the photo can bring tears to a grown man's eyes. Whereas the C64 was chunky and not too pretty, the ZX Spectrum was sleek, smooth, and had a better "go faster" rainbow stripe on it, to show off the impressive 3.5MHz CPU that roared through it like a tiger with a toothache. This was the grown up version of the ZX81...it had colour. Even now, in the hidden valleys of the Amazon rainforest, there are lost Peruvian tribes listening to the excruciating noise the cassette player made as it loaded a game. 20,000 titles were released for this powerhouse of 1980s computing, but most of them were frankly crap. Classics included "Elite," "3D Deathchase," and "Dizzy." Watch those colours clash into each other! Over 5 million ZX Spectrums were sold around the world and it was the one true rival to the C64.

3. The Honourable Atari 8-bit Series

The poor man's 64. The Atari had a great start - the company was already famous thanks to its successful foray into arcade machines, so it made sense for them to enter the home computing market. But they needed an edge. The C64 was already popular and the Speccy was popular with gamers and programmers, so what could Atari bring to the table? A cartridge slot, of course! Genius. Except it wasn't really. Apart from being the perfect place for a small child to shove any random item in it, the cartridges were quite hard to get hold of...as were cassette games for the Atari. Developers just didn't take to the Atari 8 bit series, such as the 800XL. But it was a much beloved machine with devoted followers. If the C64 was Lady Gaga, then the Atari 8 bit was your granny singing showtunes from the 1950s. Not great, but aww God bless her. Atari managed to sell over 2 million units before getting hammered by the Amiga in the 16 bit wars. Damn you, Commodore!

4. The Reasonable Apple IIe

That's right kids. Before Apple ruled the world and made everyone hold their breath to see what their next iPoo product was going to be, they churned out these gorgeous machines, the Apple IIe. Stunningly ugly, this was the Apple Mac Pro of the 80s. With memory that had the potential to be increased to a whole 1 MB, it was an attractive purchase for people who hadn't bought a home computer before and was the genesis of "MacSnobism": "Yeah, a PC is OK, but they just don't have the design ability and applications that the Mac has, and of course everyone knows you can only DTP on a Mac." Around 6 million 1980s Apples were sold. Every time one was purchased, a Microsoft fairy died.

5. The Not Very Good Amstrad CPC

The Amstrad CPC sold over 2 million units, mostly in the European market, yet there are still only 56 people in the world who will officially admit to owning one. Why? Because they had an Amstrad CPC, which had one game, a Star Trek game that wasn't too bad but was impossible to warp anywhere without having to wait for hours. OK, so there were more games, but that's what an Amstrad CPC owner felt like. Going to the game shop was depressing: 6 racks of C64 games, 6 racks of Speccy games, a rack each for the Atari and Apple, but for the Amstrad? A cardboard box under the counter with the word "sucker" written on it. So it had some green, red, and blue keys and a built-in cassette deck. It even had a dedicated monitor. But everyone was in love with the C64, including the developers, so even though in reality the Amstrad CPC was quite good, without the games, the kids didn't want it. It's like your mom buying you a Kindle instead of an iPad.

6. The Bottom of the Barrel-Scraping BBC Micro

The BBC is world famous for quality products, especially TV shows, documentaries, and radio. Naturally, the BBC figured if they were so great at making TV and radio, then computers would be a cinch. So they created the cleverly named BBC Micro (apparently short for Microcomputer; who would have guessed?). If the Amstrad was neglected, this machines was deeply unloved, mainly because the BBC, being the nation's aunt (in the UK, that is), were arrogant enough to believe that this was the perfect educational tool for the go-getting students of the 1980s. They flogged 1.5 million machines, many to schools and other educational institutions, where they were duly heavily abused and destroyed by bored teenagers. Only the true 1980s computer geek could show genuine affection to something that gave so little pleasure to so many people. Kind of like MTV.

Which was the greatest, the C64 or the Speccy?

3492 views & 9 votes

Debate It! 1

Oh man. None of them held a candle to the IIe. Including the commodore 64. The dreaded tape drive drove me up a wall.

Posted By matt,

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