I thought I’d share my current system collection with you. A lot of these systems are probably on my eBay shop if you’re interested in obtaining a gem of history. Others are keepers.
Pictures will be added to this post, as and when I take them (so apologies for the missing ones at the time you’re reading this!). Anyway, let’s get started. In chronological order, we start with the;
Look at this marvel of 1978 technology. It may have a membrane keyboard, pack only 196 bytes of RAM and consume the space of a minor planet, but this thing is a miracle of the 70s, especially given that it’s Intel 8048 processor clocks in at 1.79MHz.
The Vic 20
Having owned a Commodore 64 in the 90s, I have a keen interest in it’s predecessors, and with this being the direct descendant, it’s an essential piece of computing history.
Landing in 1981, this 8 bit behemoth is older than I am and along with the ZX80 created the affordable home computer market overnight. Shipping with 1kb of Memory and a 3.5MHz Z80A processor, it paved the way for Sinclair’s better known and more useful system.
Yeeee, haw. It’s the shiny Texas Instruments Ti99 home computer. I actually got this little beauty free from a nice lady through freegle. Not bad for 3MHz of 80’s power.
I’ve watched the BBC dramatisation Micro Men approximately 9 billion times, mainly because the competitiveness between Sinclair and Acorn during the early 80s is compelling viewing. Essentially it charts the story of Acorn winning the rights to produce a BBC branded home computer in 1981 and the BBC Micro is the result. If you went to school in the 80s, I’m pretty darn sure you’ll remember one of these sitting in the “computer room”, which at that time was just a small space in the corner of the library.
So onto another computing landmark…
The Sinclair Spectrum
Fresh from April 1982 and utilising the same processor as the ZX81, this is the machine which truly opened the British public’s eyes to the world of home computing. This machine also offered my first taste of computing from the age of about 4.
A Dragon 32
For such a small segment of the UK, Wales contributes a lot of stuff, and I mean other than Tom Jones and Catatonia. The Dragon 32 features one of the most brilliantly garish colour palettes I can think of this. This fine machine was based on the Ameircan Texas instruments hardware modified for the Welsh and UK market.
The Oric 1
was launched in 1983 after Tangerine, a lesser known fruit based computing company, saw the uptake of the Spectrum and wanted a piece of the action. If you thought the Spectrum’s rubber keyboard was bad, try this Wrigleys extra sponsored keyboard. It’s ball achingly bad.
Wheeey, back to the Acorn story. In this instance, Acorn’s cut down BBC Micro, which came just a little too late to market. Still I love the truly 80s design on this thing, including the chequered strip across the top. For me this is an essential piece of 8 bit history, plus they’re a lot cheaper than BBC Micros. Incidentally, where ever you see that “Keep” stamp, it means this is one piece of history you won’t ever find on my eBay shop. Although I currently have 3, so you’ll probably find the other two on there.
The MSX story is an interesting one, which I have absolutely no intention of covering here, but thankfully already have in my MSX platform review video from a few weeks back. The HX-10 is a common variant of the MSX hardware.
What’s not so common is the…
Supposedly a Quantum Leap in computing, this elongated business aimed machine was more of a drunked fall backwards in terms of marketing and uptake, and for that reason, and the quirky Micro drives, I love it.
Commodore Plus 4
Ahh, sheeeet. Whilst we’re on the subject of marketing fails. I give you the completely unnecessary and absurd Commodore Plus /4. A nice to have now, but probably in the 80s, give me a Commodore 64 any day.
So, onto my..
Of Alan Sugar fame. This souless piece of kit was Amstrad’s attempt to jump into the home computing market, which they did reasonably well. So well in fact that they bought out Sinclair in 1986, but not before Sinclair released 2 excellent machines, the first of which is the….
Essentially the same as the originally Speccy, but with a new case and slightly improved keyboard, this was almost the Sinclair Spectrum that I would come to love and cherish during my childhood.. but not quite.
Back on the MSX boat, I picked this reasonably rare example up from eBay a couple of years ago. Quite frankly, it looks the tits. There’s just something about computers which resemble component Hi-Fi systems which gets me all kinds of rowdy & excited. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
On that note, we have the…
Which doesn’t resemble a component Hi-Fi system, but was instead meant to resemble a IBM PC Compatible system, which it did, and indeed was, pretty much IBM PC Compatible. This one even sports a hard drive! I’ve done a review on this, but it’s a old one and probably a little crap. Still feel free to check it out.
Ahhh, my American…
Man I wanted this machine badly when I had my Commodore 64. I kept reading about it’s technical marvels in Commodore Format magazine, but it was always out of my grasp. To be honest, I’m not sure what I’d have done with it had I obtained it. There are very few 128k specific titles in the wild. Still, as my strong desire for it remains to today, it’s a keeper.
Whilst we’re on the subject of 128ks. I present my…
Sinclair Spectrum 128+
Remember the Spectrum I was talking about that I came to love and cherish. Yep. This is it, and frankly, it’s the best system Sinclair ever made. Sound now came out of your telly, rather than an on-board speaker, it had a proper sound chip, not to mention 128k of RAM and that rather lovely heat sink on the side. My brother and I spent many an hour playing Spy vs. Spy on this from the late 80s through the early 90s. This is really where my love of home computers started… I can still recall the excitement of walking into software shops armed with my pocket money in the 80s, filled with rows and rows of budget label tapes…. ahhh, awesome.
The Commodore 64G
Now, although the C64 was released in 1983 for the UK, this particular “G” revision didn’t land until 1986, when the revised Commodore 64C was also launched… I recently sold all 3 of my C variations. This one is unique to Germany, as they apparently preferred the original case design, and in these colours SO DO I. I love the aesthetics of this variation, not to mention it’s a Commodore 64, and it’s definitely one I will keep.
BBC Micro Master
This is essentially a BBC Micro, but with all the optional extras built in. Still looks like a tank, but splendid none the less. Probably one you’d see in posh schools.
ZX Spectrum +2
A Sinclair/Amstrad machine which I forgot to mention in the video! GASP. This one is the first iteration of Amstrad’s first foray with the Sinclair brand, in the lighter grey, as opposed to the darker grey in the second version.
The Atari 520STFM
Is next, and this is the original machine I received for Christmas 1994, which my parents purchased off my friend Michael. Yep, I was quite late to get on board the 16 bit home computing scene, but I had been playing double dragon and gauntlet on this machine for many a year prior. For that reason, it’s a keeper.
And so that brings us onto the first console. It’s a…
Which if you owned a Master System whilst growing up, can be described with one word; An inferior piece of kit…. Yep…No, wait, that’s 5 words. Inferior. It was definitely inferior.
And here it is…the…
Sega Master System
The machine it was inferior to. The utterly phenomenal Master System. Am I biased? You’re damn right I am. This is the first model, and arguably the best.
I love the design of this thing. It’s an item of utter beauty. Elegant lines, stark, simple, bold. Brilliant. It’s a shame I’ve just sold it on my eBay shop. Damn you capitalism.
I completely forgot I had this console. I found it on the top of my cupboard. Essentially, it was Atari’s solution to compete with the Japanese consoles, but it just wasn’t up to spec.
We land safely back in the realm of Sir Clive with this one. It’s the Z80 based Z88. Sinclair back with his old rubber keyboard tricks. But I tell you what, this portable computing device is actually quite nice to type on. Surprisingly so!
ZX Spectrum +3
Another Sinclair branded machine which I completely forgot to mention in the video (shame on me!), but here it is, in all it’s glory. Amstrad’s last 8 bit attempt at the Sinclair range, including it’s fancy disc drive!
I’m not sure where my Atari Lynx is at the moment, so here’s a picture of one I found on the internet. One word… Xybots.
This is what an Amiga 1200 is to an Amiga 500 in Atari land. Featuring a Blitter chip and various other improvements, I wanted one in the 90s, before the Falcon came out, then I wanted that even more. But I instead upgraded from my STFM to an Amiga 600.
Before any of that though, I owned a….
Master System 2
Yep, I had a Mk 2. Bought for me for Christmas 1991 (I think). I love this console. I even love the look of it, which divides some people. My original one used to be covered in Sega Power stickers. Thankfully by I’d given up with sticky things by the time I got my…
Sega Mega Drive
I yearned for this machine like a frantic wriggling worm when I owned my Master System, and not just for the graphics. This system looks like the lovechild of batman and the starship enterprise. I love it.
Good god. How many machines do I have? Better pick up the pace and take a look at my…
But remember, Sega do what Nintendon’t, so we won’t look at it for long.
Instead we’ll look at my
But I’ve recently sold that on my eBay shop. I’ve also done a system review on it, so watch that instead. In the mean time I’ll whip out my…
Yep, this one is a bit beaten. You can find out why that is in my review of that system too.
Ahh, here we are. This is Sega doing, what Nintendon’t. And in this instance, that appears to be portable colour gaming with more than 1 on screen colour.
One of my favourite childhood machines. I received my Amiga 600 only 4 months after my Atari ST, but it felt a light year apart. Probably because support for Amiga’s ran further into the 90s than the ST, but also because it had tremendous graphics, sound and keyboard action.
Also had good graphics and sound, but it didn’t have blast processing. Still it’s nice to have this 16 bit beauty in my collection.
Acorn Archimedes A3010
It’s also nice to have this Acorn model, which was a serious rival to Amiga’s hardware in technical and operating system stakes, but outside of schools, it lacked the uptake and marketing of Commodore’s systems.
Which leads us to the…
This one is definitely a keeper. Watching Bad influence unveil the Amiga 1200 Magic Pack in the mid 90s made me want this machine more than magic itself. In fact, scrap that, this thing, or at least it’s AGA chipset, were magic.
As was the…
Which is another machine I’ll be keeping. The mark one compliments the Mega Drive so beautifully, it’s a shame to even detach them from each other. I still feel the excitement of the revolutionary CD based hardware when I look at this thing, like I did in 1993 when it was released with the strange but somewhat immense Sega advertising.
The Amiga CD32
Also created that excitement, especially being the first 32 bit based CD machine to grace the UK shores. But it clearly didn’t excite me quite as much, as I’ve just sold this one on eBay. Although it was a very hard thing to do. Damn you cash flow!
The Mega Drive 2
Like the Mega Drive, but crapper.
The Mega CD 2
Like the Mega CD, but crapper.
The Atari Jaguar
Like the Atari ST, but crapp… No, wait. I love this machine. The first system to attain “64 bit” status, or at least to be marketed with it! I still consider this to be one of the greatest machine’s ever made, probably just because the thought of it blew my mind in June 1994.
The Phillips 3DO
Also excited me, just not as much. This one is boxed and as yet, I have not unleashed it’s immense power.
Which being a Sega “fan boy” I have played many times, both in the 90s and more recently. Now for me, we’re starting to get in the era of modern retro and anything from this point onwards almost seems like yesterday…
The Acorn A7000
Is a compact desktop Acorn released whilst they were still trying to keep their technology in schools. Compact, boxy, nice.
The Sony Playstation
On the other hand, was an absolute game changer in the world of console gaming. By the time it came out I had a PC, so I used to look down upon it’s peasant like inferiority. But there’s no denying that it moved consoles on leaps and bounds.
As did the..
Or Ultra 64 as it was first known. This brought us amazing 3D worlds with the release of Super Mario 3D, and I love this machine just because it clung onto the cartridge format when all others were bailing.
Back to the Gameboy quickly for it’s color variant from the late 80s. I’m still amazed how long Nintendo eeked this hardware out, given we’re now in an era of 3D polygons and consoles such as the…
Which I would class as the most recent “retro” console I own. I have a Wii (snigger), but it’s actually younger than the Xbox 360 I’m still using, so it’s hardly retro. Anyway, the Dreamcast… a massively under-rated system, and the last console Sega released. Probably why I’m happy to ignore it’s practically last week, 1999 release date. What? That was sixteen years ago? Sod off.
I also have various children’s systems such as this vTech Pre-Computer. A plethora of pocket computers & organisers. Plus various PCs kicking about, including this 286 laptop, my Compaq Deskpro 386, this Compaq prolinea 486DX4, as well as a Power Mac G4 and various other machines. By this point, I was so knackered after sorting through my other machines that I frankly gave up. I didn’t even realise that I owned so many retro machines, so the thought of pulling out a heavy 1990s desktop just to take a few pictures of it on the table, seemed like a ridiculous idea. Also PCs seem more modular and flowing, rather than stuck at some point in history, but rest assured I’ll cover all the systems I haven’t already covered in the future anyway. Maybe by the time I get to 160 billion subscribers, I’ll have covered them all. If indeed that ever happens. Or is even possible.
Sega SG-1000 II
Although having completely forgotten my Sega SG-1000 II, I should mention that here. The Japanese predecessor to the Master System, it was released at the same time as the Famicom and didn’t last long, hence it’s quite a rarity, especially in Western regions!