80s Computers

It’s hard to imagine life without computers. There was no email, no web pages, no social networking sites—and most importantly, no delete or backspace keys.

Long gone were the days of the typewriter and little containers of white out, which for the youth of today is probably unimaginable.

The earliest computers were new, high-tech, and the wave of the future, even if their memory capacity is laughable by today’s standards.

Here is a glimpse back at some of the more popular 80s computer models.

The Commodore 64, this computer was released in 1982. This 8-bit, 64 kb unit of the future was sold in retail stores, not just electronics stores, making it easily accessible to the masses. For a little less than $600, people could finally have their own PC in the home. Millions of units flew off the shelves, making the Commodore 64 the best selling PC of all time.

In 1985, the Commodore 128 would compete with a growing market. It had 128 kb, a faster processor, and better graphics.

The IBM PC 5150, introduced in 1981, used an existing television and audio cassette deck to function. This was a 16 kb computer, and not as powerful as its competitors, but this was the bare bones model, selling for around $1,500. The 5150 was also available in a 64 kb version with a floppy drive and monitor for about $3,000.

Apple -Technically its third model, the Apple IIe was one of the longest produced models for Apple after the Apple III was a huge flop. This machine was also 8-bit and 64 kb, and added ASCII characters and keyboard. Editing keys like tab and delete were also new additions.

In 1984, however, Apple shook up the market with the MacIntosh; the first home PC with a mouse and graphical user interface. It had 128 kb and ran about $2,000. Throughout the 80s, Apple continued to tweak and improve the Macintosh with more memory, better processors, and subsequently higher price tags.

The Hewlett-Packard Model 85, released in the beginning of 1980, looked more like a giant adding machine than a high-tech computer. It had a built-in keyboard, five-inch screen and a thermal printer all in one portable unit. It was 8-bit with a minimum of 8 kb and a maximum of 64. Weighing in at 20 pounds, this machine would set you back about $3,300.

The Tandy 1000 series was a variety of IBM PC clones, and the best selling computer of 1984. They had color graphics and MS DOS built in, which greatly reduced boot time. The 128 kb that came standard could be increased to a maximum of 768 kb with the use of expansion cards.

There was a lot of competition in the 80s, with many companies trying to make the computer faster, smarter, and more useful. Compared to what we use today, 80s computers don’t seem very high tech, but we had to start somewhere. It was the beginning of MS DOS, Windows, new programming languages, and made Steve Jobs and Bill Gates household names.