There was a time, I believe, when the awesomeness of computers was measured by more aesthetic and original means. Today's machines are powerful by comparison, but they lack a spirit of design that was inspired by market competition. Many computers from the 1980's gave the impression of potential through the production of creative features. Here's my list of awesome old computer things and why:
In 1982, Commodore Business Machines upped the ante for personal computing by embracing 64K memory (!) and being retail savvy, creating a storm of software development which still holds sway on modern designs.
As well as being the first 16 bit home computer, The 99/4 model of Texas Instruments machines had a voice box peripheral option. An innovation of text-to-speech programming and hardware, this toy allowed bored suburban kids of the 80's to prank call grumpy old neighbor ladies with complete anonymity.
We firmly believed, in 1982, that thermal keyboards would be the wave of the future! The wonderful thing about having such a limit to computing power is the creativity that necessity inspired. It was entirely possibly to do things that should not have been possible. If you're curious about what I mean, send me a message, but for now the 2 K of RAM I have to type about this beast is expired. *MEMORY ERROR*
The real "all in one" construction of the Model III made it seem indestructible. This was the first time I had seen a disk drive and monitor attached to the base unit, and it made the entire design seem so serious, so capable of hacking into the Pentagon à la Matthew Broderick and Co. in "War Games." In a way, it became a design paradigm for future Macs, but also boasted computing angles that were archival and strong. I wanted one very badly, and still kind of do for no reason other than appreciation.
How brilliant is it to create an extended viability of old technology just by specializing its output options? Amiga was the video / photo editing standard for so long because of the attention to television peripherals and visual video options. Some Public Access television et. al. today still use these amazing tools, pumped up and Frankenstein jolted with more current technology.
I was about to give a dozen examples of vintage computers that I admire, then I realized that most of them only exist because of the innovative engineering genius of Zilog. Therefore, by proxy, all modern computing fun should be credited to this creative evolution that at first seemed to inspire so much beauty of design. As our modern computing needs became more complex, the modern market closed its fist around diversity and creativity. I'm glad I grew up in the era of Zilog!
I've spent most of my life getting paid to teach, mostly young children. Obsessed with the ancient world, I studied Classics with a focus on Roman poetry, contributing to my degree in English from … more