Designed and built in just a few days, the prototype computer created by Acorn as the follow-up to its Atom would go on to win a key BBC contract to produce a machine to tie in with the Corporation's computer literacy project. Refined, the prototype became the BBC Micro, one of the most powerful, most desired but priciest home micros of the early 80s.
The BBC Micro would become the computer most likely to be found in schools - closely followed by Research Machines' 380Z and 480Z - though it never achieved quite the mass following that arch-rival Sinclair's Spectrum garnered.
But with support for networking, a user-definable IO port, the ability to connect to other CPUs - including an early Risc chip that would become the first ARM part - a Rom chip slot and eight graphics modes, including Teletext, it was tech'd up to the hilt.
Check out our full history of the BBC Micro here.
Price £299 (Model A) £399 (Model B)
CPU 6502 @ 2MHz
Memory 16KB (Model A) 32KB (Model B)
Developers Acorn's Chris Turner, Steve Furber, Sophie Wilson, Nick Toop; Cambridge University's Ramanuj Banerjee
One of the less well-remembered early 1980s UK home computers, not least because fewer than 30,000 were sold. Designed by John Shireff, the Lynx was launched in 1983 with 48KB of memory, a 4MHz Z80A processor. Models with 96KB and 128KB - and slightly faster CPUs - were launched too, as was a 5.25in floppy drive. All of them ran exclusively in a 256 x 252, eight colour graphics mode at a time when most other machines booted into a low-res text mode, reserving hi-res graphics for games.
Yet games were the Lynx's problem: it barely had any. The maching was pricey too, and so punters opted for better-marketed, cheaper alternatives. In such a cut-throat market, Camputers proved unable to survive and collapsed 18 months after the Lynx's launch. The machine was acquired by Aniston Technology six months later, but a mooted re-launch never took place.
Price £225 (48KB model) £299 (96KB model)
CPU Z80A @ 4MHz (48KB model) Z80A @ 6MHz (96KB Model)
Memory 48, 96 or 128KB
Developer Camputers' John Shireff
Next page: Commodore 64
Left out again.
My poor Acorn Electron, not even the traditional after thought remark in the BBC roundup. Well damn you and your mode 7 we didn't need it anyway (much), and one channel of sound is enough for anyone, stereo is just showing off <sob!>. Penguin for Percy Penguin.
an excuse to link to the oric emulator I wrote from scratch (originally as something to do on my train journey to work :)
Atari 800 series ???
You missed out the one made by the makers or arcade games.
They knew how to make gaming hardware.
A sound chip that could do drum beats, and could be configured to high accuracy for pitch.
A graphics chip with a sophisticated display list (so you could scroll play fields using pointers), and superimpose 4 sprites (players) as vertical columns and missiles, represented in contiguous memory.
The players and missiles had h/w registers to indicate collissions between objects on the playfield and sprites and missiles.
That meant no programming of coordinates to detect collisions was required.
That meant the 1.79MHz 6502 could do more.
Play fort apocalypse on an atari and it was an experience. Play it on a commodore 64 and it was laggy.
Errors in the Jupiter Ace section....
"That appealed to an emerging group of programming nerds, but for the bigger gang of schoolkids keen to hack micros, it was a language they spoke."
"Even the Spectrum, which the two hard just completed."
Very nice look back at such a great time - there was so much happening back then it was a priviledge to have lived through it.