Top Holiday Tech Buys... of 1983 (Gallery)

Top Holiday Tech Buys... of 1983 (Gallery)

Summary: Join me for the "first" computer Christmas season: when PCs cost thousands of dollars, hard-drives boasted of having megabytes of storage, and connecting to the Internet happened at 1,200 bits per second.

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  • An IBM PC! With a hard drive!!

    Back in 1983 in Compute magazine, my friend Kathy Yakal wrote, that 1983 "might be the Christmas of the computer." It would be the first holiday season when "the home computer [was] well within the budgets of many American consumers." So, what computing toys did you have to choose from in 1983? Brace yourself: there wasn't  a smartphone or tablet to be seen.

    You may be too young for this, but one of IBM's best ad campaigns ever featured Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp. And, he was touting IBM's newest PC stars: the IBM PC and the IBM PC XT. The XT came with 4.77MHz 8088 processor, a 10 MB hard drive, 128KB RAM and a 360KB floppy drive. For this top-of-the-line business machine, you only had to pay $5,000.

  • Apple Lisa: Mac's failed predecessor.

    What's that? You don't want a PC? You want an Apple? Well, lucky you, Apple was ready to sell you a Lisa -- complete with Motorola 5MHz 68000, 5MB hard drive, "huge" 1 MB of RAM, and Apple's first graphical operating system, Lisa Operating System. And, you could have all this for "only" $10,000. Yeah, there's a reason why only hard-core Apple fans remember this one. The Mac, introduced in 1984 for $2,500, proved far more popular.

  • The once, and future, Commodore 64

    Apple and IBM too pricey for you? Commodore, with its Commodore 64, a computer inside of a keyboard that required a spare TV for the interface, had the machine for you at $299. It wasn't much of a PC -- 64K of memory was small even by 1983 standards -- but it proved amazingly popular. Indeed, Commodore recently released a 21st century Commodore 64 running Linux.

Topics: PCs, Hardware, Laptops, Networking, Operating Systems, Tech Industry, After Hours

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  • 30 years down the line

    How will the paradigm change? Interesting lines to think on
    pratnala
    • No wonder

      why Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is still living in those crappy times when the command line was king and any sh** of OS (like today's Ubuntu and Mint) could gather a bunch of users

      1983, _the year_ of ..., nevermind
      markbn
      • The only place I see "Metro" or Win8 being used...

        ...Is NCIS LA, and Microsoft had to buy the show to legitimize their products. No thanks, I stick with Linux Mint 14 where they advertise on their website (about) that AV is not necessary. I prefer quality to glitter any day.
        Joe.Smetona
        • few more

          there is as well a huge advertisiment in show "Elementary" where Sherlock Holmes sits on toilet and pulls surface from floor, keyboard at window and then open the flip to place whole thing to lap where he already has few folders. then he types "sex offencers database new york" or like to bing.

          A another one is in show "Arrow" where a IT Department women first log in, open a document of list of names when suddenly main character enter the room and woman "quickly" locks the session.

          in Both advertisements, windows 8 use is painfully slow, hard and useless. In the time to do the few simple things, anyone with a Android tablet or iPad would done it quickier.

          Like today it is even silly when someone types search string when in silent room, instead speaks it aloud. Like with android you just swipe google now open or press mic button and say what you want to search or open (apps, files, persons, movies etc etc) and it is done.

          the ad in elementary shows as well why surface is terrible combination of both bad sides of laptop and tablet. you need a table to use kick stand and keyboard. But it is faster to use them than virtual keyboard as well.

          Many other shows are saturated with MS ads. Like Hawaji Five-O where they use bing, surface (table) and skydrive to share and store evidences etc. Show called "Mentalist" has typical windows logo stickers behind screens (actually had, not anymore but Arrow does have them now) and still many show use KDE as desktop environment when people mana files and read documents etc. Example show called "Leverage' does it a lot and Arrow as well.

          Windows is rarely in any laptop or desktop but now Modern UI is tried to be pushes as "Modern"
          Fri13
      • I used Unix on a DEC VAX and it was light years better than new MS products

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNIX/32V

        Windows can't hide from it's security obligations in the face of Linux.
        Joe.Smetona
        • You're a young'un!

          Vax? While working on an IBM 370 (and punching cards), I was using Version 7 on a PDP 11!

          This was in a day when hardcore geeks either learned regular expressions or typed too much!! :-)
          sbarman
      • Re: those crappy times when the command line was king

        Thank goodness Microsoft has moved away from PowerShell, then...
        ldo17
        • Re: those crappy times when the command line was king

          "Thank goodness Microsoft has moved away from PowerShell, then..."

          Dear GOD how right you are... Been installing 2012 in our lab to see how it works and NOTHING is the same as 2008 AND MS now recommends doing everything via command line in power shell...

          So funny how things come full circle :)

          I'll stick to Linux, thank you very much!
          LinuxRocks
      • At Christmas?

        Seriously? Christmas? And after all the gloom and doom of the recent tragedy, you have to go piss on an awesome (not easy to find all those ads!) nostalgia piece? Shame on you. :-(
        jgm@...
  • TRS-80 pocket computer

    Love the TRS-80 pocket computer. I had one of these as my very first computer, back in the day, except mine was badged as a Casio PB100. I still have it, it still runs faultlessly, and yes, these days it does sterling service as a full-function calculator.
    Shrdlu-dbf18
    • RE: TRS-80 pocket computer

      I still have one of these with the printer and leather case... Quite an interesting piece too :)
      LinuxRocks
  • TRS-80 pocket computer

    Love the TRS-80 pocket computer. I had one of these as my very first computer, back in the day, except mine was badged as a Casio PB100. I still have it, it still runs faultlessly, and yes, these days it does sterling service as a full-function calculator.
    Shrdlu-dbf18
  • TRS-80 pocket computer

    Love the TRS-80 pocket computer. I had one of these as my very first computer, back in the day, except mine was badged as a Casio PB100. I still have it, it still runs faultlessly, and yes, these days it does sterling service as a full-function calculator.
    Shrdlu-dbf18
  • TRS-80 pocket computer

    Love the TRS-80 pocket computer. I had one of these as my very first computer, back in the day, except mine was badged as a Casio PB100. I still have it, it still runs faultlessly, and yes, these days it does sterling service as a full-function calculator.
    Shrdlu-dbf18
  • TRS-80 pocket computer

    Love the TRS-80 pocket computer. I had one of these as my very first computer, back in the day, except mine was badged as a Casio PB100. I still have it, it still runs faultlessly, and yes, these days it does sterling service as a full-function calculator.
    Shrdlu-dbf18
  • TRS-80 pocket computer

    Love the TRS-80 pocket computer. I had one of these as my very first computer, back in the day, except mine was badged as a Casio PB100. I still have it, it still runs faultlessly, and yes, these days it does sterling service as a full-function calculator.
    Shrdlu-dbf18
    • I believe you :-)

      .
      Joe.Smetona
  • Vintage 1983 Machines!

    Steven, it is so funny that you're showing these state-of-the-art devices. At that time, there was IBM and the upstarts. I worked on a DisplayWriter w/the 12" floppies. One for word processing, one for database, one to send files remotely. I had a Hayes 1200 modem home and a TRS-80. I would look at the stock market in 'real' time, like a 20 min. delay. Those were the days.
    jsbnew
  • Stephen, how could you forget about this one?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epson_QX-10

    One of my first computers. Classic. Had some great programs.
    Arm A. Geddon
  • At least get the dates right

    "connecting to the Internet happened at 1,200 bits per second"

    And what pray tell sites were available on the internet in 1983?? Can you say, NONE accessable by anyone except research institutitions and military?

    The proposal for the WWW wasn't even proposed until 1989. At the time you think people were accessing the Internet at 1200 bps, it didn't exist in any commercial form. Even Gopher hadn't gotten rolling yet.

    Gee, did you get the information from an alternate reality? Maybe that's why Steven's blogs are so bizarre. Living in an alternate reality has it benefits I guess, not really knowing the facts helps I guess.
    Cynical99