9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time

Here are 9 of the best selling computers of all time in order of sales. Let the nostalgia flow.
Christopher McFadden
1, 2 

So what are 9 of the best selling computers of all time? We are glad you asked. There's a lot of ground to cover so we'll just jump in. 

The following are in order of sales, more or less (information can be hard to find). Let the nostalgia flow ladies and gentlemen.

1. Commodore 64

Released: January 1982

Units Sold: About 17 Million

Original Price: $595 in the US

Touted as the most popular computer of all time it was originally released in 1982. For those who owned one, it was certainly an amazing experience that is difficult to put into words. Packing an enormous 1MHz CPU and of course 64 KB of RAM.

The Commodore 64 was powerful at the time and had a programmable sound chip. Not to mention powerful graphics for the time. 

A true venerable machine in the history of computers, perhaps the best computer of all time? :)

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Evan-Amos/Amazon

2. Commodore Amiga 500

Released: 1987 (UK)

Units Sold: About 6 Million

Original Price: $699

Ah, the Amiga 500, what a computer. This bad boy followed in the footsteps of the amazingly popular Commodore 64. It was, however, faster, better and of course newer. This amazing computer made the quantum leap to the 16-bit CPU (up to 32) with 7MHz speed. It was shipped with 512KB of RAM and of course a floppy disc drive.

The Amiga family, in general, were widely popular but the Amiga 500 was by far the most popular.

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Bill Bertram/Wikimedia Commons

3. MSX

Released: June 1983

Units Sold: About 5 Million

Original Price: Unknown (Feel free to comment if you actually know)

Not to be outdone by the US giants of the time, the Japanese had their own hardware giants in the 80's. The MSX is not only one of the best selling computers of all time but also one of the most unique ones.

They ran on MS Basic but never became a global system but was incredibly popular in Japan. 

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Nate Cull/flickr

4. Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Released: 1982 (UK)

Most Popular

Units Sold: About 5 Million

Original Price: $166 (£125)

Whilst Sinclair's Timex 1000 was another best selling computer, the Spectrum seriously made Sinclair a household name. Similar in design to its predecessor, the Spectrum was a much more powerful machine. 

It came packed with 16KB of RAM, an integrated hardware keyboard, and a 3.5 MHz CPU. This machine was popular the world over but also was one of the first computers to become popular as a household "PC". This machine is rumored to have created hundreds of thousands of careers as young players found their passion for computers. 

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Iñaki Quenerapú/flickr

5. IBM PC (5150)

Released: September 1981

Units Sold: 50,000 units by April of 1982.

Original Price: $1,565 - $3,000

All non-Mac personal computers, are in effect, an IBM PC. All Intel-Based, Windows-using computers have dominated the market since the 1990's, but they would not exist if it weren't for the IBM PC. 


Released in 1981, the first IBM PC came with a 4.77 MHz 16-bit Intel 8088 processor and 16KB of RAM. Its price was very affordable for a powerful PC at the time which made it very popular indeed. Other companies began to copy IBM's BIOS with x86 machines popping up left, right and center ever since. 

It should probably be higher on the list, if not the top, but numbers of total sales are hard to find. Plus, of course, Intel-based desktop computers have been copied by many other manufacturers over the ages.

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Ruben de Rijcke/Wikimedia Commons

6. Apple II

Released: June 1977

Units Sold: 1 Million by June 1983

Original Price: $1,298 (4K RAM) - $2638 (48K RAM)

Love 'em or hate 'em you can't ignore the success of Apple. The Apple II built on the success of its predecessor the Apple 1 by keeping its 1 MHz processor and 4KB of RAM but also threw in a keyboard. That was nice of them. The Apple II came with 8 expansion slots which made them very customizable for hobbyists.

You could configure the machine to pack an amazing 48KB of RAM. The Apple software and VisiCalc spreadsheet application made them incredibly useful for corporations at the time. This really showed as they became one of the best selling computers on the market at the time. 

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Marcin Wichary/Wikimedia Commons

7. iMac

Released: 1998

Units Sold: Unknown

Original Price: $1,299

Replete with a colorful monitor housing, the iMac certainly was a change from the cream or white "drab" look of contemporary PCs at the time. It had a simple, all-in-one design that crammed all the computer's gubbins into the monitor. 

This made them easy to carry and very quick to set up, which was refreshing. The iMac's success ushered in the era of the Apple "i" products from the iPod to the iPhone so we could hardly leave it off the list despite limited records of sales. 

Personally, I hated them, but then I am a PC fanboy. Ah to hold my beloved Compaq Presario in my arms once again.

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Michael Gorzka/Wikimedia Commons

8. NEC PC-98xx series

Released: October 1982

Units Sold: About 15 Million units for whole range

Original Price: Around $2700 dollars (298,000 Japanese Yen)

The MSX range was hugely popular in Japan at this time but the NEC PC-98 series seriously gave it run for its money. This bad boy had a 5 MHz Intel 8086 CPU, two display controllers and 128KB of RAM.

It was pretty powerful for the time and NEC was Japan's "go to" computer company during the 1980's. You can think of this as Japan's answer to the IBM PC in the rest of the world.

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: Miyuki Meinaka/Wikimedia Commons

9. Timex Sinclair 1000

Released: 1982 (ZX-81 1981 in UK)

Units Sold: About 500,000 in first 6 months

Original Price: $99.95 (kit) -$149.95 (assembled)

Last on our list of best selling computers of all time is this golden oldie. Unbelievably this old timer is still sought after over 30 years later. With a "reasonable" price of $99.95 at the time the Sinclair 1000, also known as the ZX81 is one of the best selling computers of all time.

It actually ran on BASIC and offered users a whopping 1KB of RAM and a 3.25 MHz processor. It was slow by the standards of the time, but the price seems to have made it very popular indeed. 

9 of the Best Selling Computers of All Time
Source: MarcoTangerino/Wikimedia Commons

So there you go 9 of the best selling computers of all time. The list is far from exhaustive so what would you have included? Feel free to post your suggestions below.

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron