Back to the Future for Computers

The return of the “bicycle for our minds”.

Sinclair Research ZX Spectrum 48K

Sinclair Research ZX Spectrum

What happened to the computer? If you are old enough to remember the 1980’s you may recall the explosion of home computers that occured, some of the most popular being:

  • Sinclair Research’s ZX80, ZX81 and Spectrum.
  • Commodore Business Machines VIC-20, Commodore 64 and Amiga.
  • Atari’s 400, 800 and ST.
  • Acorn Computers BBC Micro, Electron and Archimedes
  • Apple IIe
A Simple Basic Program on an Atari Screen

A Simple Basic Program

Unlike the video games consoles (such as the Atari 2600) not only could these systems be used to play games they could also be programmed, usually in Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC). These easy to use computers provided many with the education needed to forge successful careers and build successful businesses in the new Information Technology industry that emerged in the 1990’s as the Internet sprang into life. What was great about these computers was the immediacy, intimacy, responsiveness and quick boot time. It was only seconds from turning the power on to starting to type a computer program. A computer program that could easily access the raw hardware of the computer. Unlike the typical computers purchased on the high street today, which are over engineered, power hungry, bloated and slow booting devices. So despite a quarter of a century of technological advances how did we end up with expensive devices that kids cannot easily program. Continue reading