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The AOA Computer Museum
Hardware
Written by danrok   
Sunday, 03 April 2005 11:07
Article Index
The AOA Computer Museum
1975 - Altair 8800
1975 - IBM 5100
1976 - Apple I
1977 - Apple II
1977 - Commodore Pet 2001
1981 - Osborne 1
1981 - IBM 5150, The IBM PC
1982 - ZX Spectrum 16K/48K
1982 - Commodore 64
1983 - Oric 1
1984 - Amstrad CPC 464
1986 - Compaq Portable 286
1986 - Amstrad PC 1640 / PC 6400
1989 - Acorn Archimedes 3000
1991 - Dubna 48K (Soviet)
1992 - Commodore Amiga 1200
1992 - Dell Precision 386SX/25
1993 - HP 9000 Model 712 workstation
1998 - Dell Precision WorkStation 410
2000 - Compaq DeskPro PIII EXD
All Pages

Introduction 

The doors are open to AOA's online computer museum!

This is AOA's Computer Museum, take a look at computing through the ages by clicking on items in article index on the right.

We will be expanding our fine collection of historical computers as time passes. If there's a computer which you would like to see in the museum let us know and we will include it.

This is where it all began...

Feel free to discuss the museum here.


Altair 8800 

The MITS Altair could be bought for $595 in 1975. It had no keyboard, input was via the switches on the front of the case. The only display it had was the LED's on the front. The CPU was an Intel 8080A running at 2 MHz. A memory board containing 256 bytes could be fitted inside the main unit. MITS later released an add-on video card for the Altair.

This is considered to be the first home computer and was named after a planet in the TV show Star Trek.

altair_8800.jpg
The Altair 8800 computer.
Popular Electronics
Popular Electronics, January 1975. 

External Links

Altair 8800 at old-computers.com

The Virtual Altair Museum


IBM 5100 

One of the first ever personal computers, the IBM 5100. Not all that successful unsuprisingly with a starting price of around $9,000 to $19,000 depending on the model. You could have built a nice house for that amount of money in 1975.

The processor was a PALM (Put All Logic in Microcode), it was actually a circuit board rather than a small chip. IBM referred to it as a controller

The 5100 had a large tape cassette drive for off-line data storage and a small built-in 5 inch CRT. A BNC connector allowed the computer to be connected to an external display, i.e. TV set.

The 5100 used large magnetic tape cassettes for storage and memory could be expanded up to 64 KB. It was intended for use by engineers and problem solvers, but never really took-off in a big way.

IBM 5100 computer
The IBM 5100.

Apple I

The first Apple computer brought to us by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. It had 4K of RAM and a MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor running at 1 MHz with an 8 bit data path. The display was capable of 40 x 24 characters. The Apple I was first supplied in May 1976 as a PCB only for $666.66 and about 200 were sold before the Apple II was introduced.

Wozniak was the design engineer and Jobs was the marketing man.

apple1.jpg

The Apple I is the PCB in the wooden box.


Apple II

The Apple II was an Apple I with a few improvements. The 1 MHz MOS Technology 6502 processor was the same. Most noteable was the fact it came in a beige case and was capable of displaying 6 colours. It had a 12 KB ROM chip and expandable RAM upto a 64K maximum. The BASIC language was included on the ROM instead of cassette.

Released in 1977 the complete package including game paddles could be had for $1298.00. No small sum of money, but this was an impressive machine for its time. In 1978 a disk drive became available and the Apple II remained in production until 1980.

In 1979 Dan Bricklin produced a spreadsheet called VisiCalc for the Apple II, this caused people to start considering personal computers as business machines and not just toys.

Apple 2 photo

Apple II.

Frogger screen-shot

The Frogger game screen-shot on the Apple II.


The Commodore PET 2001

The Commodore Pet was first demonstrated in January of 1977 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. It had a MOS 6502 processor and a built-in 9" CRT display capable of 25 lines of 40 characters.

This was an all-in-one computer with an extensive keyboard including numerical keypad - quite a remarkable feature at the time. The PET had a ROM chip loaded with a BASIC programming language from some unknown company by the name of Micro-soft (yes, there was a hypen in the name in 1977).

So, the PET was quite comparable to the Apple II, its competitor.

Commodore PET photo
Note the cassette player for storage.

Photo showing the inside of the PET
Under the hood.

Osborne 1 

This machine was built in 1981 by the Osborne Computer Corporation and is considered to be the first portable computer. The keyboard folds up so that you would have something simliar to a suit case to lug around. An optional battery pack was made available for the more intrepid owner.

At a glance the front panel looks like the console of a modern car with a small 5" CRT display, a couple of floppy drives and two storage compartments below the drives for storing disks.

At $1795 this computer was a big success, perhaps due to the bundle of free software. The bundle included the CP/M operating system, SuperCalc spreadsheet, WordStar, MBASIC from Microsoft and Digital Research's CBASIC. All this ran on its Zilog Z80 4.0 MHz CPU and a 64K bank of RAM.

osborne_computer.jpg

IBM 5150 

In 1981 the desktop PC we know today was born, the IBM 5150. Quite similar in appearance to a modern PC, but with a green monochrome CRT display and glorious beige case. The keyboard layout is quite close to that used today and was not fixed to the main system unit.

Either one or two 360 KB floppy disk drives were used for storage, there was no hard disk inside at this time. The main processor was an Intel 8088 CPU running at 4.77 MHz and the BASIC programming language was there on ROM chip. Maximum amount of installed memory was 256 KB.

This was the first affordable computer, at $1,565, from IBM which was designed to contend with Apple's offerings. IBM did not predict its success because they believed that mainframe computers would continue to dominate in the business world.

The porting of VisiCalc spreadsheet to this platform helped ensure the IBM PC's success in the office environment. Accountants and middle managers soon favoured them.

ibm_5150.jpg
The IBM PC with Intel 8088 CPU.

ibm_5150_display.jpg
Close-up of the PC's display.


ZX Spectrum 16K/48K 

The first incarnation of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer was launched in April 1982. Two models were made available, one with 16K of RAM and the other with 48K. The processor was a Zilog Z80A running at 3.5 MHz. The Sinclair BASIC programming language was built-in to the machine.

The 48K version initially sold for £175 in the UK. The price later dropped to £129.

The most obvious features of the ZX Spectrum were its rubber keyboard and small size. Despite its name, display of colour graphics was quite limited. It could display 8 colours on a TV set. 

ZX Spectrum

(Photo by: Bill Bertram)

Software and Games 

Some popular games for the ZX Spectrum include:

  • 3D Ant Attack by Quicksilva
  • Alien 8 by Ultimate Play The Game
  • Donkey Kong by Nintendo
  • Jet Set Willy by Software Projects
  • Manic Miner by Matthew Smith / Bug Byte
  • Out Run by Sega
  • Tau Ceti by CRL Group PLC
Elite game
Elite running on the Spectrum 

Sofware tools and applications include:

  • VU-3D by Psion
  • Forth (programming language)
  • Small Business Accounts 

Virtually all games for the original ZX Spectrum were provided on tape cassettes.

selection of spectrum game boxes
A selection of some of the original Sinclair games and software

Peripherals for the ZX Spectrum

ZX Interface 1

Given that the computer only had one limited expansion slot, in 1983 Sinclair made a new interface for connecting other devices. It was also designed to allow Spectrums to work on a local area network. An RS 232 interface was included to allow conection to a printer.

ZX Interface 1
The ZX Interface 1 hooked up to a ZX Microdrive 

ZX Microdrives 

In 1983, Sinclair produced the ZX Microdrive units as an alternative to the standard audio tape drive. They had to be connected via an add-on interface known as the ZX Interface 1. Two drives could be linked together for duplicating the removable data loop-tapes.

ZX Microdrives
Two ZX Microdrives linked together 

ZX Printer

The ZX Printer, launched in 1981, was a spark printer which used special paper which was coated with a layer of aluminium. It sold for £49.95, considerably less than the larger printers of the time.

The printer also worked with the older ZX81. 

ZX Printer
The ZX Printer loaded with aluminium paper

Kempston Joystick Interface

The Kempston Interface allow connection of an Atari 2600 type joystick to the ZX Spectrum. This soon became a standard piece of kit for most Spectrum owners. 

Kempston Joystick Interface
The Kempston Interface 

Crash  Magazine

Crash was a magazine for ZX Spectrum owners, published between 1984 to 1991. Link: www.crashonline.org.uk

Crash magazine 
Crash, issue 1 February 1984. Cover illustration by Oliver Frey.
 


Commodore 64 or C64 

The C64 was a very popular home computer which was first released in August 1982. Something like 30 million of them were made. It was similar to the VIC 20 at a glance.

It had a 6510 processor running at 1 MHz with integrated 6-bit I/O port, 64 KB of RAM and co-processors for sound and video. The video was most commonly run at a resolution of 320 x 200 pixels in 16 colours. Quite an impressive computer for $595 in 1982 and a gamers favourite.

Sound was handled by a MOS Technology 6581/8580 SID. 

The Commodore 64 was also sometimes known as the C=64, CBM64 and CBM 64. 

Commodore 64 photo
The C64 along with disk drive, cassette player and printer.

The Commodore 64
The Commodore 64.

Commodore 64 box
The C64 packaging. 

Software & Games

Some of the games for the C64 include:

  • 3D Ant Attack
  • 3D Golf
  • A View to a Kill
  • Agent Orange
  • Air Rescue I
  • Airbourne Ranger
  • AIrwolf
  • Alien Storm
  • Arkanoid
  • The Bard's Tale
  • Blue Thunder
  • Big Mac
  • Bugsy
  • Bruce Lee
  • Chopper
  • Chase H.Q.
  • Combat Zone
  • Crazy Kong
  • Cybernoid
  • Dalek Attack
  • Dark Star
  • Donkey Kong
  • Druid
  • Elite
  • Exolon
  • Flash Gordon
  • Friday the 13th
  • Frank Bruno's Boxing
  • Froggy
  • Galaxy
  • Gangster
  • Gauntlet
  • Ghostbusters
  • Gunship
  • Hacker
  • H.E.R.O.
  • The Hobbit
  • Ice Hockey
  • International Karate
  • Jet Set Willy
  • Knight Rider
  • The Last Ninja
  • Loco
  • Lords of Chaos
  • Madballs
  • Marble Madness
  • Match Day
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mission Impossible
  • Nebulus
  • Nemesis
  • Operation Wolf
  • Out Run
  • Paperboy
  • Pitstop
  • Pub Trivia
  • Quo Vadis
  • Rally Speedway
  • River Raid
  • Shinobi
  • Snoopy
  • Star Wars
  • Test Drive
  • Turbo Out Run
  • Ultima
  • World Games
  • Zaxxon

Some of the software applications for the C64:

  • Commodore 64 BASIC (programming language)
  • Koala Painter (drawing and graphics)
  • Magic Desk I (typewriter)
  • Multiplan (spreadsheet by Microsoft)
  • Vizawrite (wordprocessor)

Internals

Commodore 64 motherboard
A Commodore 64 motherbaord. (click for large image)

External Links

www.c64s.com An online C64 emulator with plenty of games.


Oric 1

The Oric-1 by Oric Products International Ltd had a 6502A processor running at 1 MHz. Two models were availaible, one with 16K of memory the other with 48K.

It was developed to compete with the successful ZX Spectrum, but only about 160,000 units were sold in the UK and another 50,000 in France. It was just slightly cheaper then the ZX Spectrum at £169 for the 48K version.

The Oric 1 had a programmable GI 8912 sound chip and two video outputs, RF for a television and RGB.

 

Image
The Oric-1


Amstrad CPC 464

The Amstrad CPC was first released in 1984. The CPC 464 had a tape deck and 64KB of memory, and was intended to compete with the ZX Spectrum and C64.

The main CPU was a Zilog Z80 running at 4 MHz. Video was handled by a Motorola 6845. It had 3 standard video modes as follows:

  • Mode 0: 160 x 200 pixels with 16 colours
  • Mode 1: 320 x 200 pixels with 4 colours
  • Mode 2: 640 x 200 pixels with 2 colours

Sound was provided by a General Instrument AY-3-8912 chip with three channels.

The CPC had Locomotive BASIC built in to a ROM chip. 

Amstrad CPC 464
The Amstrad CPC 464, photo by Bill Bertram. 

Software & Games

Games for the CPC include:

  • Aladdin's Cave
  • Crazy Golf
  • Duet
  • EXIT
  • Howard the Duck
  • Light Force
  • Mystical
  • Winter Games



Compaq Portable 286

The Compaq Portable 286 was released in 1986. It features an Intel 80286 CPU running at 8 MHz and 1MB of RAM (max. 2MB).

Possible storage devices, at the time, were 5.25" floppy drive(s) and/or a 20MB hard drive.

The display was a built-in green mono CRT screen capable of text or graphics in CGA 640 x 200 pixels.

The supplied operating system was MS DOS 3.2.

It has 1 serial and 1 parallel port for connection of peripherals.

The keyboard could be locked on to the front of the main system case, to allow for easy portability. However, it was a heavy item to carry around. The Compaq Portable's were often reffered to as "luggables".

Compaq Portable 286
The Compaq Portable 286.
 
Compaq Portable 286
Compaq Portable 286 ready to be carried. 

 


Amstrad PC 1640 / PC 6400

The Amstrad PC 1640 was first made in 1986. It has a Intel 8086 processor running at 8 MHz and 640KB of system RAM. 

It was sold under the name PC 6400 in the US and PC1640 in Europe.

At the time, it was a good cheap alternative to an IBM PC and was as good as 100% compatible.

The main power supply was not in the system case, but inside the monitor. 

Amstrad PC 1640
The Amstrad PC1640 DD with double disk drives. 

 


Acorn Archimedes 3000

The A3000 was produced in a case similar to that of an Amiga 500, the processor was a RISC ARM 2 32-bit running at 4 or 8 MHz. The built in language was BBC BASIC and the operating system was RISC OS 2 or 3.

System memory was 1MB and upgradable to 4MB. The video processor could display up to 256 colours.

The UK price for an A3000 was about £650.

A3000

 

Dubna 48K

The Dubna 48K was produced in the Soviet Union as a ZX Spectrum clone. It had a Zilog Z80 processor running at 1.875 MHz with 48K of RAM. The operating system was Sinclair BASIC.

It was completely outdated at the time and was mainly used in high schools which could not afford better computers. 

Image
The Soviet Dubna 48K 


Commodore Amiga 1200 

Commodore launched the A1200 in 1992 and it sold very well at £399 in the UK. The CPU was a Motorola MC68EC020 with 2 MB of RAM as standard, expandable to 8 MB or more. The highest screen resolution was 1280 x 512 pixels with colour capabilities of 24-bit, i.e. 16.8 million colours. The on-board sound was 4-channel, 8-bit stereo.

The Amiga was the gaming machine to have and possibly the equivalent of today's Playstation in terms of popularity.

First two photo's below are Bradmax57's Amiga.

commodore_a1200.jpg
The Commodore Amiga 1200.

commodore_amiga_1200.jpg
The A1200 with mouse and extra floppy drive.

Amiga 1200 logo
The Amiga logo.


Dell Precision 386SX/25

This Dell PC used the Intel 386SX 25MHz processor. It came with 2MB of RAM as standard, which was expandable to 16MB. The supplied hard drive had a capacity of 85MB.

The package was supplied with both MSDOS 6 and Windows 3.0. 

Dell 386SX

Above photo from www.mrmartinweb.com

Intel 386SX chip
Intel 386SX processor 


HP 9000 Model 712 workstation

This Hewlett-Packard computer had a PA-7100LC RISC processor running at 80MHz (other speeds available depending on model). It came with 64MB (16MB to 128MB possible) of RAM, a 3.5" floppy drive and internal 2.14GB hard drive.

The operating systems was HP-UX or Linux.

HP 712
Full system with monitor keyboard and mouse.
 
HP 712 insides
Photo shows the inside of the system case. 


Dell Precision WorkStation 410

This Dell PC is a mini-tower with dual or single Intel PII Slot 1 CPUs, first available to buy in May 1998. The list price of the dual CPU version was $5,237. These systems were intended for CAD users or any maths intensive use.

The following specifications may vary according to revision.

Processors

  • 1 or 2 Intel PII 400MHz Slot 1 CPUs
  • or single PII 350MHz
  • 100MHz FSB

Video

  • Integraph Intense3D Pro 3410T with 32MB of graphics memory
  • or Diamond 8MB Premedia 2
  • or Appian Jeronimo Pro Graphics

Memory

  • Standard: 128MB or 256MB of SDRAM
  • Maximum: 1GB

Networking

  • Integrated 3COM 10/100 Mbit Ethernet 

Drives

  • On-board Adaptec SCSI disk controller with RAID
  • 1 or 2x 9GB hard drives or 1x 4GB hard drive
  • CD-ROM 24x drive
  • 1.44MB floppy disk drive

Operating System

  • Standard: Windows NT 4.0 

Dell Precision WorkStation 410


Compaq Deskpro PIII EXD 733Mhz

This model is one of the Deskpro EX series, designed for small business use.

Specifications are shown below, but may vary according to revision. 

Processor

  • Intel PIII running at 733MHz
  • 133MHz bus speed

System Memory

  • SDRAM modules
  • 128MB as standard
  • 512MB maximum
  • 2 DIMM slots

Video

  • AGP 4x (1 slot)
  • Supplied with nVidia GeForce 2 GTS

Sound

  • PCI sound card
 

Expansion Slots

  • 3 PCI slots
  • 1 AGP 4x

Drives

  • Standard: 10GB hard drive, ATA 66
  • 1.44MB floppy drive

Power Supply

  • 120 watt 

Operating System

  • Windows 98SE
Compaq DeskPro PIII EXD

Compaq Deskpro PIII 733 overview

 

See also

None found.


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