1977 is one of the most important years in history of computer science and video games since it saw the release – in November – of the Atari 2600, one of the most successful and longeve consoles ever made and of three of the most iconic computers not only of their era, but of all history: Apple II, Commodore PET and TRS-80.
All of them will turn 40 this year and I thought to pay homage covering them in brief.
The Apple II has already celebrated its 40th birthday but is not the oldest of the trio. It’s one of the most longeve computers of all time, surpassed only (twist of fate) from Commodore 64. Yes, the same Commodore that with its PET challenged the Apple II. During its 16-years lifespan it was released in different verisons: Apple II, II Plus, IIe, IIc and IIGS, the most advanced with 256K of RAM instead of the old 16 of the first model. We can easily say that Apple II evolved together with computer science. One of the most important “plus” of the Apple II was the huge range of software developed for it. In fact, even if it was used also for gaming purpose, its odd and underpowered graphic capabilities made it unsuitable for games, but on the other hand it worked brilliantly for business purpose.
Even if it was presented in January, the PET was released in June (so, happy birthday happy birthday!) slightly before the Apple II. The first model, PET 2001 is commonly considered the first personal computer ever, or at least the first among the most important ones. Was retailed for 5 years, until 1982, and a plethora of different models were distributed (3000, 4000, 8000 etc…) somtimes with debatable commercial practices but in the end the computer was an enormous success and led Commodore to become one of the reference companies in computer world
The Tandy Radio Shack 80, commonly named TRS-80 is the last computer of the trial. Distributed in the popular chain Radio Shack ultil the beginning of the 80s, was the less capable of the group being a monochrome computer (not considering the later TRS-80 CoCo) and (let’s say it) even the bulkier and less beautiful. After the Model I, was released the Model III in 1980 and Model 4 in 1983 but in parallel were developed other models, being the most remarkable the CoCo created to challenge the everlasting Commodore 64, that was retailed from 1980 to 1991. Yes, the CoCo was still on shelves when the SNES debuted in Japan.
So, have you ever had or do you still have one of these pieces of history? What was your favourite? Feel free to reply and comment!