30th Anniversary of Some Famous Personal Computers

This week is the 30th anniversary of some of the earliest personal computers.

TRS-80 Model 100: Interview With John R. Hogerhuis

ZX Spectrum’s chief designers reunited 30 years on

Although my high school had one personal computer, a Commodore PET, I was not part of the clique that had time on it.

So I spent every cent I had saved, about $230, on a Sharp PC-1211 Pocket Computer, from a local bookstore. Although the same as the Radio Shack PC-1, the Sharp came with an additional applications manual containing about 300 BASIC programs. (The PC-1211 was quite limited, but the PC-1360 has dot-addressable graphics and an assembler.)

Sharp PC-1211

Sharp PC-1211. My precious.

Several years later, I noticed a drawerful of Sharp PC-1246 Pocket Computers at a BiWay discount store in Toronto for under $20 each. I bought a few, and gave one to a teen-aged aspiring programmer, son of a friend of mine. :)

80s computers such as the pocket computers and Model 100 notebook are still compelling for a few reasons:

  • BASIC in ROM – great for learning programming
  • no software maintenance or updates needed
  • immune to viruses
  • extremely long battery life – typically a full month
  • many computers of this era come with schematics, allowing you to do home automation and other projects.

The main disadvantage is that most cannot connect to the Internet, though USB interfaces are available.

RSKey’s Pocket Computer Museum
Aldweb’s Pocket Computer Programming
The hidden side of the Sharp PC-1211
Radio Shack Pocket Computer PC-1
USB interface for the Casio FX-850P/FX-880P
Please Don’t Call It Trash-80: A 35th Anniversary Salute to Radio Shack’s TRS-80 /. comments

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One Response to 30th Anniversary of Some Famous Personal Computers

  1. Neolex says:

    those were the days… i still remember my sharp pocket computer. 😀

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