- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Adobe Reader
  2. Adware
  3. Altavista
  4. AOL
  5. Apple Macintosh
  6. Application software
  7. Arrow key
  8. Artificial Intelligence
  9. ASCII
  10. Assembly language
  11. Automatic translation
  12. Avatar
  13. Babylon
  14. Bandwidth
  15. Bit
  16. BitTorrent
  17. Black hat
  18. Blog
  19. Bluetooth
  20. Bulletin board system
  21. Byte
  22. Cache memory
  23. Celeron
  24. Central processing unit
  25. Chat room
  26. Client
  27. Command line interface
  28. Compiler
  29. Computer
  30. Computer bus
  31. Computer card
  32. Computer display
  33. Computer file
  34. Computer games
  35. Computer graphics
  36. Computer hardware
  37. Computer keyboard
  38. Computer networking
  39. Computer printer
  40. Computer program
  41. Computer programmer
  42. Computer science
  43. Computer security
  44. Computer software
  45. Computer storage
  46. Computer system
  47. Computer terminal
  48. Computer virus
  49. Computing
  50. Conference call
  51. Context menu
  52. Creative commons
  53. Creative Commons License
  54. Creative Technology
  55. Cursor
  56. Data
  57. Database
  58. Data storage device
  59. Debuggers
  60. Demo
  61. Desktop computer
  62. Digital divide
  63. Discussion groups
  64. DNS server
  65. Domain name
  66. DOS
  67. Download
  68. Download manager
  69. DVD-ROM
  70. DVD-RW
  71. E-mail
  72. E-mail spam
  73. File Transfer Protocol
  74. Firewall
  75. Firmware
  76. Flash memory
  77. Floppy disk drive
  78. GNU
  79. GNU General Public License
  80. GNU Project
  81. Google
  82. Google AdWords
  83. Google bomb
  84. Graphics
  85. Graphics card
  86. Hacker
  87. Hacker culture
  88. Hard disk
  89. High-level programming language
  90. Home computer
  91. HTML
  92. Hyperlink
  93. IBM
  94. Image processing
  95. Image scanner
  96. Instant messaging
  97. Instruction
  98. Intel
  99. Intel Core 2
  100. Interface
  101. Internet
  102. Internet bot
  103. Internet Explorer
  104. Internet protocols
  105. Internet service provider
  106. Interoperability
  107. IP addresses
  108. IPod
  109. Joystick
  110. JPEG
  111. Keyword
  112. Laptop computer
  113. Linux
  114. Linux kernel
  115. Liquid crystal display
  116. List of file formats
  117. List of Google products
  118. Local area network
  119. Logitech
  120. Machine language
  121. Mac OS X
  122. Macromedia Flash
  123. Mainframe computer
  124. Malware
  125. Media center
  126. Media player
  127. Megabyte
  128. Microsoft
  129. Microsoft Windows
  130. Microsoft Word
  131. Mirror site
  132. Modem
  133. Motherboard
  134. Mouse
  135. Mouse pad
  136. Mozilla Firefox
  137. Mp3
  138. MPEG
  139. MPEG-4
  140. Multimedia
  141. Musical Instrument Digital Interface
  142. Netscape
  143. Network card
  144. News ticker
  145. Office suite
  146. Online auction
  147. Online chat
  148. Open Directory Project
  149. Open source
  150. Open source software
  151. Opera
  152. Operating system
  153. Optical character recognition
  154. Optical disc
  155. output
  156. PageRank
  157. Password
  158. Pay-per-click
  159. PC speaker
  160. Peer-to-peer
  161. Pentium
  162. Peripheral
  163. Personal computer
  164. Personal digital assistant
  165. Phishing
  166. Pirated software
  167. Podcasting
  168. Pointing device
  169. POP3
  170. Programming language
  171. QuickTime
  172. Random access memory
  173. Routers
  174. Safari
  175. Scalability
  176. Scrollbar
  177. Scrolling
  178. Scroll wheel
  179. Search engine
  180. Security cracking
  181. Server
  182. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  183. Skype
  184. Social software
  185. Software bug
  186. Software cracker
  187. Software library
  188. Software utility
  189. Solaris Operating Environment
  190. Sound Blaster
  191. Soundcard
  192. Spam
  193. Spamdexing
  194. Spam in blogs
  195. Speech recognition
  196. Spoofing attack
  197. Spreadsheet
  198. Spyware
  199. Streaming media
  200. Supercomputer
  201. Tablet computer
  202. Telecommunications
  203. Text messaging
  204. Trackball
  205. Trojan horse
  206. TV card
  207. Unicode
  208. Uniform Resource Identifier
  209. Unix
  210. URL redirection
  211. USB flash drive
  212. USB port
  213. User interface
  214. Vlog
  215. Voice over IP
  216. Warez
  217. Wearable computer
  218. Web application
  219. Web banner
  220. Web browser
  221. Web crawler
  222. Web directories
  223. Web indexing
  224. Webmail
  225. Web page
  226. Website
  227. Wiki
  228. Wikipedia
  229. WIMP
  230. Windows CE
  231. Windows key
  232. Windows Media Player
  233. Windows Vista
  234. Word processor
  235. World Wide Web
  236. Worm
  237. XML
  238. X Window System
  239. Yahoo
  240. Zombie computer

This article is from:

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Home computer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s.
Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s.
Most home computers, such as this Tandy Color Computer 3, featured a version of the BASIC programming language.
Most home computers, such as this Tandy Color Computer 3, featured a version of the BASIC programming language.

The home computer is a consumer-friendly word for the second generation of microcomputers (the technical term that was previously used), entering the market in 1977 and becoming common during the 1980s.

The home computer became affordable for the general public due to the mass production of the silicon chip based microprocessor and as the name indicates, tended to be used in the home rather than in business/industrial contexts. They were also designed to be immediately useful to non-technical customers, in contrast to first generation microcomputers that often came as kits and required electronics skills. Use of the term "home computer" largely died out at the end of the decade (in the U.S.) or in the early 1990s (in Europe). This was due to the rise of the IBM PC compatible personal computer (the IBM PC and its clones are not covered in this article), and the consequent preference for the term "PC" rather than "home computer."

Concise history


After the monumental success of Apple Computer's Apple II in 1977, large numbers of new machines of all types began to appear during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The boom was further facilitated by the 1979 release of VisiCalc, a software application which greatly helped to legitimize the personal computer in the business sector and as a whole. Included in the explosion of new commercial systems were such exotica as the Forth-based Jupiter ACE, which appeared on the market in the early 1980s but vanished rapidly. Some offerings became market mainstays for years, such as the BBC Micro and Commodore 64, both of which are still favorites among classic computer hobbyists as of 2006.

However, the introduction of the IBM PC (its original designation actually being the quite anonymous, classic IBM-nomenclature, "IBM 5150") in August 1981 led to a revolution in personal computing, largely due to the system's open architecture, which encouraged production of third-party clones of the unit. While the Apple II would eventually be displaced by the IBM PC, Apple Computer's 1984 release of the Apple Macintosh would create a new model for the home computer which IBM compatible Personal Computers would eventually emulate.


Many home computers were superficially similar, some having a very cheap-to-manufacture keyboard integrated into the processor unit and displaying 20–40 column text output on a home television. Many used ordinary and widely available compact audio cassettes as a (notoriously slow and sometimes unreliable) storage mechanism since floppy disk drives were very expensive at the time, especially in Europe (often a disk drive would be priced higher than the computer itself due to its more complicated mechanical construction, and thus, manufacturing cost). All in all, cheapness was the order of the day for most of these machines, in order to get the prices low enough to encourage ordinary-income people to buy. A prime buyer segment were families with school-age children.

All modern desktop computers employ an operating system (OS) which acts as an interface between the operator and the computer's internal hardware (memory, CPU, etc). Home computers most often had their OS, of which one part was usually a BASIC interpreter, stored in one or more ROM chips. The term software commonly denoted application programs sitting 'above' the OS to perform a specific task, e.g. wordprocessors or games. As many older computers have become obsolete it has become popular amongst enthusiasts to enable one type of computer to emulate another via the use of emulation software. Thus, many of the operating environments for the computers listed below can be recreated on a modern PC.

Home computers were mostly based on 8-bit microprocessor technology, typically the MOS Technology 6502 or the Zilog Z80. A large variety of 8-bit home computers were designed and marketed during the early to mid-1980s. A notable exception was the TI-99 series, released in 1979 with a 16 bit TMS9900 CPU. These were then gradually supplanted by the PC (mostly the PC compatibles—clones—costing significantly less than the IBM PC) and the PC's competing Motorola 68000-based home/personal computers appearing from 1984 onwards. Some vendors attempted to prolong the market life of their 8-bit computers by price cuts and other means (see, for example, GEOS), but their era had ended. See the list of home computers by category for a comprehensive listing of most well-known home computers, divided by wordlength (8, 16-bit) and CPU architecture.

Notable home computers

The 1977 Apple II.
The 1977 Apple II.

The list below shows the most popular and/or historically significant home computers of the late 1970s and of the 1980s. It includes their initial year of release as well as their region/country of origin. The most significant releases in the USA were: the Apple II (1977), the IBM PC (1981), the Commodore 64 (1982), and the Apple Macintosh (1984).

A plethora of home computers came out during this period, but most failed to have a significant impact on the US market or the history of home computing and as such are not mentioned (this includes machines not sold/known in the USA). Different models in a line of compatible computers are listed as a whole, such as the Apple II and TRS-80 families.

(For a comprehensive overview of home computers, i.e. not just the most notable ones given below, see the List of home computers.)



  • June 1977: Apple II (North America) (color graphics, eight expansion slots)
  • August 1977: Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 (N. Am.) (first home computer for less than US$600)
  • December 1977: Commodore PET (N. Am.) (first all-in-one computer: keyboard/screen/tape storage)
  • 1979: Atari 400/800 (N. Am.) (first computer with custom chip set and programmable video chip)
  • 1979: TI-99/4 (first home computer with a 16 bit processor)



No computer has sold any more units than the Commodore 64 did.
No computer has sold any more units than the Commodore 64 did.
  • 1980: Commodore VIC-20 (N. Am.) (under US$300; first computer in the world to pass the one million sold mark)
  • 1980: TRS-80 Color Computer (N. Am.) (Motorola 6809, OS-9 multi-user multi-tasking)
  • 1980: Osborne Computer Company releases the Osborne 1
  • June 1981: Texas Instruments TI-99/4A (based on the less-successful TI-99/4) (Second home computer with a 16-bit CPU, first to add sprite graphics)
  • August 1981: IBM PC (N. Am.) - the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. The original model was designated the IBM 5150. It was created by a team of 12 engineers and designers under the direction of Don Estridge of the IBM Entry Systems Division in Boca Raton, Florida
  • 1981: Sinclair ZX81 (Europe) (£49.95 in kit form; £69.95 pre-built) (released as Timex Sinclair 1000 in US in 1982)
  • 1981: BBC Micro (Europe) (premier educational computer in the UK for a decade; advanced BASIC with integrated 6502 machine code assembler; designed with a myriad of I/O ports)
  • 1982: Kaypro Computer releases the Kaypro II
  • April 1982: ZX Spectrum (Europe) (best-selling British home computer; "made" the UK software industry)
  • August 1982: Commodore 64 (N. Am.) (best-selling computer model of all time: ~ 17 million sold)
  • 1983: Coleco Adam
  • 1983: MSX (Japan) (a computer 'reference design' by ASCII and Microsoft, manufactured by several companies: ~ 5 million sold)
  • 1983: VTech Laser 200 (entry level computer aimed at being the cheapest on market).
  • January 1984: Apple Macintosh (N. Am.) (first mouse driven, fully GUI-based home/personal computer; first 16/32-bit)
  • 1984: Amstrad/Schneider CPC & PCW ranges (Europe) (British std. prior to IBM PC; German sales next to C64)
  • 1985: Atari ST (N. Am.) (first with built-in MIDI interface; also 1MB RAM for less than US$1000)
  • July 1985: Commodore Amiga (N. Am.) (custom chip set for graphics and sound; multitasking OS)
  • 1987: Acorn Archimedes (Europe) (based on the powerful Acorn-developed 32-bit ARM microprocessor; most powerful home computer in its class on its debut)

Notable game consoles

The list below includes the most popular and/or significant video game consoles of the home computer era and other superlatives. Though not general purpose computers, many consoles competed for consumer money in the same market as the more low-end home computers (and used similar hardware, sometimes directly affecting the development of home computers). This market was also flooded with several oddball or badly marketed systems that never achieved much success, and neither introduced any technical novelties; accordingly, those systems are not mentioned here.

(For a comprehensive overview of game consoles, i.e. not just the most notable ones given below, see the List of video game consoles, which includes most game consoles up to the present.)

  • Magnavox Odyssey (1972) (first console, only one without sound and color, all-analog)[1]
  • Fairchild Channel F (1976) (first microprocessor-based console, first one with sound, and color, first console to use cartridges)
  • Atari 2600 (aka Atari VCS) (1977) (first very successful console, largest video game library)
  • Magnavox Odyssey² (1978) (aka Philips Videopac G7000) (first with full QWERTY keyboard)
  • Milton Bradley Microvision (1979) (first handheld cartridge-based video game system; monochrome LCD screen)
  • Mattel Intellivision (1980) (most direct competitor against Atari 2600; first 16-bit console albeit crude Atari-like graphics; first console with Internet connection)
  • Vectrex (1982) (only non-handheld console with built-in display screen, only one with real vector graphics)
  • Atari 5200 (1982) (first video game console based upon a home computer)
  • Colecovision (1982) (most popular 2nd-gen. 8-bit console, first with arcade-quality graphics)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (1985) (most popular 3rd-gen. 8-bit console in the U.S.)
  • Sega Master System (1986) (outsold the Nintendo Entertainment System in parts of Europe and Brazil)
  • Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (1988/1989) (first successful 16-bit console)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (1989) (first successful, and bestselling, handheld video game console)
  • Atari Lynx (1989) (first color graphics, backlit LCD handheld, albeit a marketing flop)
  • Super Nintendo (SNES) (1991) (arguably the most advanced 16-bit console, top U.S. and worldwide 16-bit seller)


  1. ^ The patents registered for the Magnavox Odyssey, despite its all-analog electronic construction, affected Atari 2600, Mattel, Activision, Nintendo and several arcade game manufacturers)

See also

  • History of computing hardware (1960s-present)
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley
  • Personal computer
  • Triumph of the Nerds
  • Computer magazines

External links

  • Rune's PC Museum
  • Computer History Museum – An online museum of home computing and gaming
  • HCM - Home Computer Museum
  • "Total share: 30 years of personal computer market share figures" – From Ars Technica
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