Greatest Home Computers – Ranked


20. Dragon 32 (1982)

Manufactured by Swansea-based mostly totally Dragon Files (an offshoot of primitive toy firm, Mettoy), this 32k machine featured an evolved Motorola MC6809E central processor, decent keyboard and extremely perfect analogue joypads. Nevertheless, its eccentric graphics hardware gave every game a garish inexperienced tinge, and its most iconic gaming personality modified into as soon as a bespectacled schoolboy named Cuthbert. Admittedly, I build the Dragon on the list as a replacement of one more expedient Swansea-made machine, the Sam Coupe, because I designed two hit video games for the system: Impossiball and Utopia. Despite this, Dragon Files went bust in 1984.

19. Atari ST (1985)

The first dwelling computer to operate a color graphical user interface and powered by a 16-bit Motorola 68000 CPU, with 512KB of RAM, the Atari ST appeared enjoy the long urge … till the Commodore Amiga arrived two months later. A legendary digital tune machine thanks to its built-in Midi interface, the Atari struggled to compete as a video games platform. I know: I supplied one.

18. Acorn Electron (1983)

Designed to compete with the ZX Spectrum, the Electron modified into as soon as a budget model of the BBC Micro, using the identical Synertek 6502A processor and working system, and the same BASIC language. It modified into as soon as at the starting up well supported with video games, quite a few them converted from the Beeb, but it modified into as soon as costly to build and too gleaming to in actual fact distress the puckish Speccy.

17. Sinclair ZX81 (1981)

Sinclair ZX81
BASIC begin for British programmers … Sinclair ZX81.

Picture: PhotoDreams/Alamy

The hiss-up to the ZX80 introduced dwelling computers into British high-road stores, making this low-price, hardy machine even more accessible to the heaps. Many video games industry veterans bought their begin typing BASIC programmes into its touch-based mostly totally keyboard. Titles equivalent to 3D Monster Maze and Mazogs were a revelation.

16. Texas Instruments TI-99/4A (1981)

With its 16-bit processor, 16KB of RAM and evolved TMS9918 video uncover chip (an evolution of which might perchance well later be aged within the Sega Mega Drive), the TI-99/4A modified into as soon as one of many most extremely high-quality machines available at the time. Before the total lot retailing at an costly at $525, a vicious value war with the Vic 20 introduced all of it the vogue down to $100 and it supplied well for a whereas, but Texas Instruments’ decision to totally management tool pattern for the machine restricted its enchantment as a video games platform.

15. Altair 8800 (1975)

Vintage Computers At The Computer History Museum, Mountain ViewA vintage 1970’s MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer, taken on May 21, 2009. (Photo by Mark Madeo/Future via Getty Images)
Gateway to the long urge … the Altair 8800. Picture: Future Publishing/Future/Getty Pictures

Accessible via mail explain for factual $400 (a allotment of the rate of industrial computers at the time) and built around the 2MHz Intel 8080 CPU, the Altair effectively kickstarted the dwelling microcomputer industry. Before the total lot handiest programmable via a series of RAM switches on the front, it modified into as soon as infrequently a mass-market product, but it bought quite a few younger nerds into coding (most famously Invoice Gates and Paul Allen), and adding a terminal and video display allowed straightforward video games pattern.

14. Amstrad CPC 464 (1984)

Unfairly conception of the moreover-ran computer of the 1980s, the Amstrad modified into as soon as acclaimed on arrival thanks to its impressive specs and integrated build, which included the keyboard and tape deck into one classy unit. With very perfect graphics and sound, it modified into as soon as a true gaming workhorse and many customers cherished its outsider rep 22 situation amid the Spectrum v C64 playground wars.

13. Intelligent X68000 (1987)

A key Jap notebook computer of the leisurely 1980s, the X68000 featured a 16-bit Motorola 68000 CPU, enjoy the Atari ST and Amiga, but with added graphics performance including enhance for hardware sprites and hardware scrolling, allowing practically very top conversions of coin-op classics equivalent to R-Kind and Last Wrestle. Veritably an arcade machine disguised as a PC.

12. Apple Macintosh (1984-)

The 1984 Apple Macintosh.
Thriving indie scene … the 1984 Apple Macintosh. Picture: Tribune Speak Agency/Alamy

There has repeatedly been a game-pattern scene on Apple Macintosh computers, even though it remained comparatively exiguous thanks to the dominance of the IBM PC, and the truth that the recent Mac 128k computer had a monochrome uncover. It modified into as soon as on the Mac even though, that we first played massively accepted scamper title Myst, and where Halo developer Bungie started out with Marathon and Memoir. The computer moreover saw a thriving indie scene via the 1980s and 90s.

11. MSX (1983)

Designed by Microsoft Japan, the MSX wasn’t one machine but comparatively a hardware same old – the VHS video of computers – supported by a fluctuate of manufacturers including Sony and Toshiba. The utilization of the identical Z80 processor and Texas Instruments TMS9918 video chip because the Sega Grasp system, it modified into as soon as an very perfect video games platform – and famously, the MSX2 hosted the recent Metal Equipment title.

10. Tandy TRS-80 (1977)

Text favourite … the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100,
Textual recount material celebrated … the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100, Picture: Nicole Lacourse/Guardian News & Media Archive

Before the total lot paired with a monochrome video display (fundamentally a low-price dim-and-white TV put) and a primitive cassette deck, the TRS-80 modified into as soon as nicknamed the Trash-80 by fans of the Apple II and Commodore PET. Nevertheless it modified into as soon as cheap and widely available within the US from the omnipresent RadioShack stores, main to a healthy tool pattern scene. Textual recount material-based mostly totally adventures flourished, including Zork and the major titles from genre memoir Scott Adams.

9. Commodore Vic-20 (1981)

Sold as “the high-quality computer” the Vic-20 modified into as soon as designed for accessibility, with a low value ($300), brilliant graphics, a ROM cartridge port and quite a few accessories. Following the more commerce-orientated Commodore PET, it modified into as soon as one of many major dwelling computers to in actual fact acknowledge the importance of video games in its marketing and no matter its teeny 5KB memory, saw masses of landmark titles equivalent to Sword of Fargoal and Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Fringe of Time.

8. NEC PC-88 (1981)

The dominant Jap notebook computer of the 1980s confronted stiff competition from the Intelligent X1 and Fujitsu FM7, but held on to its main utter via a series of ever more extremely high-quality models. The PC-88 boasted video games from the total main arcade and console builders including Sega, Namco, Square, Hudson and even Nintendo, which launched the diminutive identified Gargantuan Mario Bros Special for the machine.

7. Atari 800 (1979)

Launched alongside the technically corrupt Atari 400, the 800 modified into as soon as a true gaming dwelling computer, with personalized co-processors to take care of graphics and sound and four joystick ports, allowing multiplayer titles equivalent to MULE, Airline and Dandy. Atari modified into as soon as moreover in a utter to call on its assemble crew of experienced builders for accepted titles Considerable person Raiders and Missile Voice in addition a team of bedroom coders via the Atari Program Replace (APX) initiative, in actual fact developing its assemble formative indie scene.

6. BBC Micro (1981)

British primary school children learning maths on a BBC Micro.
British main school formative years studying maths on a BBC Micro. Picture: ITV/Rex Aspects

While you went to school within the UK within the 1980s you’ll straight recognise the BBC Micro, the 32k machine designed by Acorn and the BBC Computer Literacy Project to carry programming to the mainstream. It modified into as soon as a severe, costly machine, but its ubiquity in lecture rooms supplied a gateway into video games pattern for wannabe whiz children and is also for ever identified for Elite, Repton and Granny’s Backyard.

5. Apple II (1977)

firing up an Apple IIE 1983 model.
Attracted a burgeoning generation of coders … firing up an Apple IIE 1983 model. Picture: Zuma Wire Provider/Alamy

While the UK had the BBC Micro, the US had the Apple II, a severe, extremely expandable, multipurpose dwelling computer, which modified into as soon as accessible ample to blueprint a burgeoning generation of game coders. It the major main computer to ship with BASIC in ROM, color graphics and up to 48k of RAM and its successors saved refining the specs to take care of its popularity. As for video games? Lode Runner, Choplifter, Prince of Persia, Castle Wolfenstein, Ultima, John Madden Soccer … all of them debuted right here.

4. ZX Spectrum 48K (1982)

Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Of us’s decision … Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Picture: Alamy

The of us’s decision, the gaming platform of the everyman, Sinclair’s 48K Spectrum, with its rubber keys, extraordinary clashing visuals and tinny sound modified into as soon as completely pivotal within the pattern of the British video games industry. From Jet Predicament Willy and Horace Goes Skiing to Knight Lore and Lords of Lifeless evening it drew the absolute most efficient from coders, quite a few whom would shuffle on to came upon the nation’s largest studios.

3. Commodore 64 (1982)

Revolutionary … the Commodore C64.
Innovative … the Commodore C64. Picture: Interfoto/Alamy

With its mountainous 64KB of RAM, brilliant brilliant visuals (including hardware-supported sprites and scrolling) and innovative SID sound chip, the C64 modified into as soon as the most extremely high-quality and multifaceted video games machine of its skills. It might perchance perchance perchance take care of the total lot from arcade conversions (Bubble Bobble, Green Beret) to experimental puzzle video games (Sentinel, Hacker, Frankie Goes to Hollywood) to perfect multiplayer sports actions sims (every Epyx Games title), and coders saved discovering recent depths at some stage in its 20 million-promoting lifespan.

2. Commodore Amiga (1985)

Rich adventures … Commodore Amiga 500.
Rich adventures … Commodore Amiga 500. Picture: Felix Choo/Alamy Inventory Picture

The closing if truth be told expedient gaming dwelling computer sooner than the dominance of the PC and the 32-bit video games consoles, the Amiga saw an explosion of inventive skills with studios equivalent to Ultimate Machine, LucasArts, DMA Originate, Bitmap Brothers and Psygnosis developing complex, visually filthy rich adventures and opening up recent game build conventions and ideas that stand at the present time. It moreover impressed an endless demo scene of underground coders and artists, many unruffled developing work at the present time.

1. IBM PC (1981)

IBM developer David Bradley with a 5150 computer and DOS floppy disk.
IBM developer David Bradley with a 5150 computer and DOS floppy disk. Picture: Bob Jordan/AP

Battling via the myriad competitors of the 1980s, the x86-based mostly totally PC is now inarguably the dominant computer platform for video games. The recent IBM 5150 modified into as soon as costly at $1,565, but its open structure and adoption of MS-DOS allowed just a few third-birthday party manufactures to build low-price clones and put a technological same old. IBM can rep lost management of the PC industry years within the past, but its decision to use off-the-shelf parts and to post the technical reference manuals within the lend a hand of its skills are why you’re taking half in on a generic PC and never the ZX Spectrum 16GB.

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