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timeline of personal computers

...and other notable events.

This 'timeline' charts the development of the well-known, and not so well-known, home computers of the late 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's. I have purposely excluded all IBM and IBM-compatible/MS-DOS machines plus inlcuded only the Apple I, II, II, Lisa and original Macintosh (for sanity). The MSX standard introduced in 1983 (based on the Spectravideo SVI-328) spawned a whole heap of computers from a variety of manufacturers. I am not including these machines in this timeline either as they deserve their own. Finally, RISC machines will be in their own timeline, I think...

1970

1/1 "The Epoch" (Time 0 for UNIX systems, Midnight GMT)
13/3 Digital Equipment Corp introduces PDP-11 minicomputer
11/4 Apollo 13 launched to Moon; unable to land, returns in 6 days
7/8 First all-computer chess championship is conducted in New York and won by CHESS 3.0 (CDC 6400).
13/9 IBM announces System 370 computer

Datapoint 2200
Datapoint 2200
No CPU, built from discrete TTL chips

1971


Kenbak-1
Kenbak-1
No CPU, built from discrete TTL chips

1972


1973


Compucolor 8001
Compucolor 8001
The first desktop colour graphic computer.

Micral-N
Micral N
The first commercial non-kit computer based on a microprocessor.

Wang 2200
Wang 2200
Wang Laboratories' first minicomputer that could perform data processing in a common computer language.

1974


MCM/70
MCM/70
The MCM/70 one of the first microcomputers in the world, the second to be shipped in completed form, and the first portable computer. The MCM/70 was the product of Micro Computer Machines. It is considered by some historians to be the first usable personal microcomputer system.

Micral G/Micral S
Micral G/Micral S

SCELBI-8H
SCELBI-8H

Sord SMP80/x
Sord SMP80/x

1975


Altair 8800
Altair 8800

IMSAI 8080
IMSAI 8080

Sphere 1
Sphere 1

SWTPC (Southwest Technical Products) 6800 Computer System
SWTPC (Southwest Technical Products) 6800 Computer System

1976


Apple I
Apple I

KIM-1 Development Computer
KIM-1 Development Computer

Micral CZ
Micral CZ

Micral M
Micral M

Sol-PC/Sol-10/Sol-20 (kit)
Sol-PC/Sol-10/Sol-20 (kit)

1977


Apple II
Apple II (Byte - "The 1977 Trinity")

Cambridge MK14
Cambridge MK14 (Microcomputer Kit 14)

Commodore PET 2001
(US) Commodore PET 2001 (2001-4/2001-8) / (EU) CBM 3000 Series (Byte - "The 1977 Trinity") *¹

Hazeltine 1500
Hazeltine 1500

North Star Horizon
North Star Horizon

Micral C
Micral C

Sord M200
Sord M200

Tandy TRS-80 Microcomputer System Model I
Tandy TRS-80 Microcomputer System Model I (Byte - "The 1977 Trinity")

VideoBrain Family Computer Model 101
VideoBrain Family Computer Model 101

*¹ 'PET' is named after Pet Rock in Los Gatos / the 'pet computer'. Backronymed as 'Personal Electronic Transactor'. Commodore was the first company to license Microsoft's 6502 BASIC, but the agreement nearly drove Microsoft into receivership as Commodore stipulated that they would only pay for it when the PET began shipping.

1978


Apple II Plus
Apple II Plus/EuroPlus/J-Plus

Commodore PET 2001-N
(US) Commodore PET 2001-N (2001-N8,2001-N16,2001-N32) / (EU) CBM 3008/3016/3032

Hitachi MB-6880
Hitachi MB-6880/Basic Master

Micral V Portable
Micral V Portable

Sharp MZ-40K
Sharp MZ-40K

Sharp MZ-80K
Sharp MZ-80K

Sord M100
Sord M100

1979


Acorn System 1
Acorn System 1

Atari 400
Atari 400

Atari 800
Atari 800

NEC PC-8000
NEC PC-8000

Sharp MZ-80C
Sharp MZ-80C

Tangerine Microtan 65
Tangerine Microtan 65

Tandy TRS-80 Model II
Tandy TRS-80 Model II

Texas Instruments TI-99/4
Texas Instruments TI-99/4

1980


Acorn Atom
Acorn Atom

Acorn System 2
Acorn System 2

Apple III
Apple III

Commodore PET 4000/8000
Commodore PET 4000/8000 (4016/4032/8016/8032/8096) *²

EACA Video Genie
EACA Video Genie (EG-3003)

Micral CCMC portable Portal microcomputer
Micral CCMC portable Portal microcomputer

Sharp PC-3100
Sharp PC-3100

Sinclair ZX80
Sinclair ZX80

Sord M203/M223/M243
Sord M203/M223/M243

Tandy TRS-80 Model III
Tandy TRS-80 Model III

Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo)
Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo)

*² The first two numbers represent the number of columns on the screen. The last two, the RAM size.

1981


Acorn BBC Micro Model A/B (Proton)
Acorn BBC Micro Model A/B (Proton)

Commodore SuperPET
Commodore SuperPET/MicroMainframe (SP9000)

Commodore VIC-20/VC-20
Commodore VIC-20/VC-20

EACA Genie I
EACA Genie I (EG3003)

EACA Genie II
EACA Genie II (EG3008)

Fujitsu FM-8
Fujitsu FM-8

Multitech Micro-Professor MPF-1
Multitech Micro-Professor MPF-1

NEC PC-6000
NEC PC-6000

NEC PC-8800
NEC PC-8800

Osborne 1
Osborne 1

Sharp PC3200
Sharp PC3200

Sharp MZ-80B
Sharp MZ-80B

Sinclair ZX81
Sinclair ZX81

Sord M-23
Sord M-23

Texas Instruments TI-99/4a
Texas Instruments TI-99/4a

1982


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Acorn System 3

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Acorn System 4

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Amstrad NC100

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Aster Computers (MCP) CT-80

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Atari 1200XL

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Commodore CBM-II P-Series (500 series in Europe)/B-Series (600/700 series in Europe)

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Commodore MAX Machine/Ultimax

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Commodore 64

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Convergent Technologies Workslate

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Dragon 32 (Dragon 100 in Spain)

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EACA Genie III (EG3200)

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Epson HX-20/HC-20

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Fujitsu FM-7

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Grid Compass 1101

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Grundy NewBrain A/AD

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Jupiter Ace

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Kaypro II

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LNW Research LNW-80

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Lobo MAX-80

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Multitech Microprofessor II

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North Star Advantage

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Olivetti M20

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Oric-1

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Sharp MZ-2000

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Sharp MZ-3500

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Sharp MZ-700

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Sharp MZ-80A/MZ-1200

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Sharp X1

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16k/48k

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Sord M5

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 12

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 16

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Teleram T-3000

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Thomson T07

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Timex Sinclair 1000

1983


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Commodore 4094/PET 64 'Educator64'

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Apple IIe

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Apple Lisa

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Apple III Plus

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 16B

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 4

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Tandy Color Computer II

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Tandy 2000

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 100

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EACA Colour Genie

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Sharp MZ-2200

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Sharp X1 C/D

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Atari 600XL

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Atari 800XL

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Acorn System 5

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Acorn Electron

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Epson QX-10

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Multitech Microprofessor III

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CGL M5

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Sord M343

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Sord M68

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Kaypro IV/10

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Olivetti M10

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NEC PC-8201

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Sega SC-3000

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Mattel Aquarius

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Camputers Lynx

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Texas Instruments Compact Computer 40 (CC-40)

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Timex Sinclair 1500

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Timex Sinclair 2068

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TeleVideo TS 803 Computer System

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Spectravideo SVI-328

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MSX Computer Architecture (This is a timeline all of it's own! )

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VTech Laser 100/110

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VTech Laser 200

1984


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Commodore 8032SK/8096SK/8296/8296-D

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Commodore SX-64

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Commodore 16

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Commodore 116

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Commodore Plus/4

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Apple Lisa 2

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Apple Macintosh 128

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Apple IIc

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Apple Macintosh 512

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Tandy 1000

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 200

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Tandy TRS-80 MC-10

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Sharp MZ-5500

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Sharp MZ-800/MZ-1500

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Sharp X1 Ck/Cs

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum+

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Epson PX-8 (Geneva)

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North Star Dimension

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Sord IS-11

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Kaypro 4/2X

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NEC PC-8300

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Dragon 64 (Dragon 200/200E in Spain)

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Oric Atmos

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Timex Computer 2048

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Sinclair QL

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Tatung Einstein

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Thomson MO5

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Amstrad CPC 464

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Laser 50

1985


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Commodore 128

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Commodore Amiga 1000

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Apple Macintosh XL

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Apple IIe Enhanced

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Tandy 6000

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 600

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Sharp X1 Turbo / X1 Turbo Model 40 / X1 F

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Sharp MZ-6500/5600

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Atari 65XE

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Atari 130XE

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Atari 520ST

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Acorn BBC Model B+64/B+128

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128

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Epson PX-4/HC-40/HX-40

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Eureka Oric Stratos

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Thorn EMI Liberator

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Enterprise 64/128

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Bondwell 2

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Sharp Super MZ/MZ-2500

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NEC PC-6600

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Thomson TO9

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Amstrad CPC664

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Amstrad CPC6128

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VTech Laser 310

1986


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Commodore 64C

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Apple Macintosh Plus

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Apple Macintosh 512Ke

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Apple IIGS

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Tandy Color Computer III

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Tandy 3000

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Tandy TRS-80 Model 102

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Sharp X1 Turbo II/III

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Atari 520STM/520STFM

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Atari 1040ST/STF/STFM

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Atari ST 1 (Mega)

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Acorn BBC Master 128/Turbo/512/Compact

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 (Amstrad)

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Eureka Oric Telestrat

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Compaq Portable II

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Thomson MO6

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Thomson TO8

1987


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Commodore Amiga 500

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Commodore Amiga 2000

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Apple Macintosh Plus (Platinum)

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Apple IIe (Platinum)

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Apple Macintosh SE

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Tandy 4000

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Atari XEGS

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Atari PC1/PC1/PC3/PC4/PC5

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Atari Mega ST 2

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Acorn Archimedes A300/A400

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2A (Amstrad)

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3 (Amstrad)

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Cambridge Z88

1988


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Commodore Amiga 2500

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Apple IIc Plus

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2B (Amstrad)

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3B (Amstrad)

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Laser 128

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NeXT Computer/NeXTcube

1989


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Apple Macintosh SE/30

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Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

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Apple IIGS

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Atari 520STE

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Atari 1040STE

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Atari STacy

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Acorn Archimedes A3000

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Sam Coupé

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Psion Mobile Computer (MC) 400

1990


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Commodore 64GS

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Commodore Amiga 3000

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Apple Macintosh Classic

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Atari TT030

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Atari Mega ST 4

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Acorn Archimedes A540

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Amstrad 464 Plus/6128 Plus

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NeXTstation

1991


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Commodore Amiga 500 Plus

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Apple Macintosh Classic II

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Atari Mega STE

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Atari ST Book

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Acorn Archimedes A5000

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Acorn Archimedes A4 Laptop

1992


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Commodore Amiga 600

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Commodore Amiga 1200

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Commodore Amiga 4000

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Atari Falcon 030

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Acorn Archimedes A3010/A3020/A4000

I'm sure that there are other, more esoteric computers that I've missed from here. Let me know if you spot any!

Last modified: December 26th, 2021
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