Although computers had started to become part of everyday life by 1987, they were still seen as a luxury item. Most offices had them but many homes did not. The software hosted was often rudimentary and in the case of PCs, tended to be run via a corresponding tape deck. The mother boards were large and processing power was limited. But despite being slow and clunky by today’s standards, there are a few classic old models that are remembered fondly by many who used them.
Introduced in 1982, the Commodore 64 become the highest-selling computer model of all time. By 1987 it was in homes across the world. It sold for about $595 – pricey by today’s standards – (It would be $1,477 in 2016’s money) and benefited from multi-coloured sprites and an advanced sound processor. Bubble Bobble – an arcade game – was arguably the most popular Commodore game released in that year. Starring twin bubble dragons Bub and Bob, the game forced players to travel through one hundred stages, as they blew and burst bubbles and jumped on and platforms to navigate level obstacles. The computer sold in regular retail stores instead of electronics and computer hobbyist stores and produced its parts in-house to reduce costs.
The BBC micro-computer
Acorn’s BBC micro-computer was the school computer of choice, famous for its red control keys and cream body. The computer was rugged enough to withstand the classroom environment but sophisticated too – it was used to simulate and develop the ARM architecture that has evolved into one of the most widely used 32-bit instruction set architectures. There is still a retro-computing community of dedicated users finding new jobs for the old BBC hardware. The computers still survive in a few interactive displays in museums across the UK too. Citadel and Elite are perhaps the two best known games played on the BBC micro computer.
Apple Macintosh II
Released on March 2 1987, the Macintosh II had a whopping introductory price of US$5500. During its life span – between 1987 and 1992 – it became one of the most powerful personal computers available. The first computer to use a Motorola 68000 series processor (other than the Motorola 68000), it became a high-end workstation-class machines for graphics and scientific computing but was still used as a mainstream desktop computer. It had a memory of 1MB and a modular system (without built-in disk drive). The first PC from Apple, the Mac II benefited from ‘Color QuickDraw in ROM’, a colour version of the computer’s graphics language.
Amstrad CPC 464
First released in 1984, An 8-bit home computer the Amstrad CPC 464 was updated eight times between 1984 and 1990. The computer competed successfully with the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and established itself in many homes in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and the German-speaking parts of Europe. The computer was used mainly to play video games and was a low price compared with the Apple II and Commodore 64. The high res text and graphics and the system’s ability to run CP/M software also made it attractive for small business users.