7 Old-School Computers That Remind Us How Far We Have Come
Are you experiencing any tech issues? We have a few images of old-school computers that we think will remind you just how good you have it.
From 10 Mb hard disks to computers attached to dial-up modems, people from the times of these old-school computers might feel like they're looking into another world.
As Arthur C. Clarke once put it, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
1. How they used to do portable computers
The Visual Commuter was marketed as “portable, IBM Compatible, powerful, affordable,” as The Smithsonian points out. It weighed 16 pounds and was sold for $1,995.
Released in 1983, what we're looking at here is the old-school equivalent of a laptop with a foldable display. Though its screen only showed 16 lines of text (80 characters per line). What you're currently using can likely show thousands of lines of text at the same time thanks to that clever little zoom function.
2. Is that a computer or a calculator?
The Timex Sinclair 1000 was released in 1982 when personal computers were still a relative novelty.
Despite it's limited — by today's standards — 3.25MHz CPU and 2K (64K max) RAM, it was incredibly popular for the time, selling 600,000 units, as OldComputers.net reports.
3. A typewriting hand grenade?
Nope, this isn't a weapon. The IBM Selectric Typewriter, launched in 1961, was an overnight sensation. Something many of us take for granted today is that our keyboards don't jam.
The Selectric Typewriters used a novel golf-ball-shaped type head (as pictured below) that replaced the convention of the time: a typewriter’s basket of typebars - the bars are what typically caused jamming.
As IBM explains, the manufacturing facility behind the Selectric typewriters expected to make 20,000 units in its first year. By the end of 1961, they had orders for 80,000. The Selectric became the norm for years.
4. Dial into the web
The Commodore 64, or C64 computer, was an iconic model of its time. It was popular at a time when dial-up internet was the norm.
For the younger readers out there, dial-up internet saw users have to — very slowly — connect to a phone line in order to be able to connect to the internet.
As CNN reports, the Commodore 64 computer popularised personal computing into the home for millions of users in the early- and mid-1980s.
People used their C64s for office functions as well as for gaming. The computer had 64 kilobytes of memory, which is roughly the equivalent of a long email today.
5. IBM Jr
These days we see a lot of "light" versions of smartphones, computers, and devices. After its successful launch of the IBM PC, the computer company went for this tactic by launching the IBM PC Jr.
While IBM was trying to replace competitors' established, popular home computers, such as the C64 (above), Apple II or Atari 800, the Jr wasn't a great success.
6. A pre-90s gaming system
There was once a time when company Atari was held in the same esteem as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo today when it comes to videogames. The company, founded in California in 1972, is responsible for Pong, and the Atari 2600, two iconic pillars of early videogames.
As ComputingHistory.org reports, the Atari 800XL (pictured above) was the third version of the Atari 8-bit line of computers that started production in 1983. The system included 64K of memory, VLSI chips (Antic, GTIA, Pokey, PIA) and came in a more compact design than previous models.
7. Ten whole megabytes!
Hard disks, and computers, in general, have come an incredibly long way. There was a time when 5Mb hard drives required a forklift to pick up.
It makes us wonder where we will be thirty years from now.