Introduction to Home Computers

The personal computer (PC) gallery at The National Museum of Computing has some of the over 100 different PC computers on sale from the 80s onwards, some of which were used by small businesses. It was also the start of the use of computers for gaming and entertainment at home. The 1980s was a huge growth period with many manufacturers competing. Many of these no longer exist.

Some early low cost computers used the family TV as an output device, and a cassette tape recorder to load and store programs. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum became very popular with many young people for programming and playing computer games. It had the processor built into the keyboard and used the cassette recorder as an input device. The data is loaded as sound and converted by the computer to a digital format to allow the program (such as a game) to be used. Although the graphics look crude compared to today's video games, teenagers enjoyed the cutting edge technology of its day and went on to write and sell their own games.

  • Personal computers in the home

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Input

Home computers

Output

Home computers

Storage

Home computers

Memory

Home computers

Processing

Home computers

User Interface

Home computers

Impact on Society

Home computers

Images of Home computers

  • An early IBM compatible computer

  • Commodore 64 home computer

  • Inside a BBC Computer

  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum and tape machine to input data

  • The Acorn 3010 computer featuring Lemmings game

  • The Amiga home computer

  • The Atari 400 home gaming computer

  • The Mini Macintosh SE (Special Edition) computer

  • The Newbrain home computer