While browsing through some old backups yesterday, I found an illustrated report titled ‘A Report on Three Classic Personal Computers‘ which I had submitted under my “Small Computer Systems: Organization and Architecture” subject.

If you are curious about the ancestors of the machine you are reading this post on, then this report really makes an interesting read. The content requirement for the report was as under:

The classic systems must have been made within the years 1972 to 1990 and be non-IBM-PC compatible (i.e. not running MS-DOS). The systems must also be predominantly consumer products, not systems that were intended for use as dedicated computers for the military or business or terminals that connected to mainframes.

Structure of the Report:

  • Summary
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion
  • References

You can download the full report for referential or academic purposes here (Unzip -> Read only document). Below is the summary page of the report.

Summary

The three computers covered in this report are in the timeline of 1980-1990 and are computers running non-Microsoft operating systems. The computers covered are:-

  • ‘Sinclair ZX81’ released by Sinclair Research in 1981.
  • ‘Sirius 1 / Victor 9000’ released by Sirius Systems Technology in 1982
  • ‘Macintosh Plus’ by Apple Computers in 1987.

The report starts with an introduction about the personal computers and also the key aspects and areas the computers covered had to offer. The main body of the report covers the detailed knowledge about these computers. A personal computer can be subcategorized into various sub-systems that together form a complete working component. This report covers these subcategories in detail; the system architecture, the operating system used to run them as well as the market these computers covered.

The beginning of 80s brought one of the best selling computers of the decade, the catchy tilted ‘Sinclair ZX81’. With a durable processor, low price and even an upgrade path (sort of), the ZX81 was a winner. The hardware configuration of the ZX81 was minimal and basic so as to keep it light on customer’s pocket. The use of just 4 chips on the motherboard was a fascinating piece of work for the technology enthusiasts. The appeal for ZX81 lay into its Plug and Play status, its small form factor, its upgradable capabilities and also as a machine which was easy for the common home users to understand.

A year later in 1982 Sirius 1 was launched by Sirius Technologies which stole the thunder away from the entire mainstream home as well as casual business PCs. The Sirius1 was very innovative and superior in many points to the original IBM PC. The Victor 9000/Sirius S1 ran CP/M-86 but was no PC clone. The durable form factor, strong operating system, high resolution screen and choice of floppy as well as disk drives made this computer the first choice for any customer.

No company has ever made as much impact in the personal computing world as Apple Computers have made. Apple Computers was the first company to implement the revolutionary idea of GUI (Graphical User Interface) to the personal computer. With Macintosh Plus which was launched in 1986 the company hugely corrected the errors in a very popular series of computers. With ‘huge for its time’ 1-4 Mb of RAM and a very powerful Motorola M68000 processor, all new HFS (Hierarchical File System) and the introduction of SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) devices in personal computers, the Macintosh Plus became a huge success and went on to become the longest selling Mac to date – Apple kept it selling for 5 years!

In the conclusion of this report, the reader comes to know that although these three computers were entirely different as to the hardware as well as the software are concerned, but still these three computers changed the perspective, an average home user held towards the then supposedly complex but still exciting personal computing world.

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