This is a hands on museum - try the computers they used in the 1970s, 80s, 90s etc. Learn the different languages used on many types of computers and see how the games industry revolutionised the computer industry


T: 01942 834381

M: 07903 123621

E: joe@nwcomputermuseum.org.uk

Sample of Computers which will be exhibited in the museum

In the 1970s Commodore was one of many electronics companies selling calculators designed around Dallas-based Texas Instruments (TI) chips. However, in 1975 TI increased the price of these components to the point where the chip set cost more than an entire TI calculator, and the industry that had built up around it was frozen out of the market.

Commodore responded to this by searching for a chip set they could purchase outright. They quickly found MOS Technology, which was in the process of bringing its 6502 microprocessor design to market, and with which came Chuck Peddle's KIM-1 design, a small computer kit based on the 6502. At Commodore, Peddle convinced Jack Tramiel that calculators were a dead-end. In September 1976 Peddle got a demonstration of Jobs and Wozniak's Apple II prototype, when Jobs was offering to sell it to Commodore, but Commodore considered Jobs' offer too expensive.

Tramiel demanded that Peddle, Bill Seiler, and John Feagans create a computer in time for the June 1977 Consumer Electronics Show, and gave them six months to do it. Tramiel's son, Leonard, helped design the PETSCII graphic characters and acted as quality control.

Commodore Pet

The TRS-80 Micro Computer System (TRS-80; later known as the Model I to distinguish it from successors) is a desktop microcomputer launched in 1977 and sold by Tandy Corporation through their Radio Shack stores. The name is an abbreviation of Tandy/Radio Shack, Z-80 microprocessor. It was one of the earliest mass-produced and mass-marketed retail personal computers.

Notable features of the TRS-80 included its full-stroke QWERTY keyboard, its new Zilog Z80 processor (rather than the more common Intel 8080), 4K RAM standard memory (many 8-bit computers then shipped with only 1K RAM), small size and desk footprint, its floating-point BASIC programming language, an included 64 column video monitor, and a starting price of US$600[1] (equivalent to US$2400 in 2017)

Tandy TRS-80 Model 1

The CPC6128 features 128 KB RAM and an internal 3-inch floppy disk drive. Aside from various hardware and firmware improvements, one of the CPC6128's most prominent features is the compatibility with the CP/M+ operating system that rendered it attractive for business uses.

The CPC6128 was released in August 1985 and initially only sold in the USA. Imported and distributed by Indescomp, Inc. of Chicago, it was the first Amstrad product to be sold in the United States, a market that at the time was traditionally hostile towards European computer manufacturers.[9] By the end of 1985, it arrived in Europe and replaced the CPC664 in the CPC model line-up. Initial suggested retail prices for the CPC6128 were US$699.00/£299.00/DM1598.00 with a green screen and US$799.00/£399.00/DM2098.00 with a colour monitor.

In 1990, the 6128plus replaced the CPC6128 in the model line-up, and production of the CPC6128 was discontinued.

Amstrad 6128

The Commodore 64, also known as the C64 or the CBM 64, is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International (first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, January 7–10, 1982). It has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time, with independent estimates placing the number sold between 10 and 17 million units. Volume production started in early 1982, marketing in August for US$595 (equivalent to $1,509 in 2017). Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore PET, the C64 took its name from its 64 kilobytes(65,536 bytes) of RAM. It had superior sound and graphical specifications compared to other earlier systems such as the Apple II, with multi-color sprites and a more advanced sound processor.

Commodore 64

DeveloperAcorn Computers

Type8-bit microcomputer

Release dateAugust 25, 1983; 34 years ago

MediaCassette tapefloppy disk (optional), ROM cartridge (optional)

Operating systemAcorn MOS v1.0

CPUMOS Technology 6502A clocked at 2MHzwhen accessing ROM and 1 MHz/0.5897 MHz when accessing RAM

Memory32 kB RAM, 32 kB ROM

DisplayRF modulatorcomposite videoRGBmonitor output

Graphics160×256 (4 or 16 colours), 320×256 (2 or 4 colours), 640×256 (2 colours), 320×200 (2 colours — spaced display with two blank horizontal lines following every 8 pixel lines), 640×200 (2 colours — spaced display)

The Acorn Electron is a budget version of the BBC Micro educational/home computer made by Acorn Computers Ltd. It has 32 kilobytes of RAM, and its ROM includes BBC BASIC v2 along with its operating system.

The Electron was able to save and load programs onto audio cassette via a supplied converter cable that connected it to any standard tape recorder that had the correct sockets. It was capable of basic graphics, and could display onto either a television set, a colour (RGB) monitor or a "green screen" monitor.

For a short period, the Electron was reportedly the best selling micro in the United Kingdom.

Acorn Electron

Internally, the machine was designed by Jim Westwood around a Z80 central processing unit with a clock speed of 3.25 MHz, and was equipped with 1 KB of static RAM and 4 KB of read-only memory (ROM). The ZX80 was designed around readily available TTL chips; the only proprietary technology was the firmware. The successor ZX81 used a semi-custom chip (a ULA or Uncommitted Logic Array) which combined the functions of much of the earlier hardware onto a single chip reducing the chip-count from 21 to 4. However this was mainly a cost-reduction effort;[5] the hardware functionality and system programs were very similar, with the only significant difference being the NMI-generator necessary for slow mode in the ZX81 and the 4K integer-only Sinclair BASIC upgraded to 8K floating-point-capable, with the upgraded ROM also available as upgrade for the ZX80. Both computers can be made by hobbyists using commercially available discrete logic chips or FPGAs.

Sinclair ZX-80

The Atari 800XL was the third version of the Atari 8-bit line of computers introduced in 1983.   The system contained a full 64K of memory, had all the standard VLSI chips (Antic, GTIA, Pokey, PIA) and was in a smaller and more compact design.   The keyboard was good, not as good as the 1200XL keyboard, but it had a solid feel to it.   The cartridge port had been move to the top center of the system and used special metal spring loaded doors to allow the insertion and removal of ROM cartridges.   This system of spring loaded doors also kept dirt and objects from falling into the cartridge slot when it was not occupied.    Overall the system is basically a cost reduced Atari 800 with a fuzzier picture.   The system came with built-in diagnostics and a HELP key.     The OS was still slightly incompatible with many original Atari 400/800 software titles, but Atari began to distribute a "Translator" disk which would load up a 400/800 compatible OS into memory so that the 800XL could support those programs.    A never version of the 800XL was being readied called the 800XL-F which included the new "FREDDY" memory management chip that would have allowed for more use of free memory for programs and geater use of graphics by the "ANTIC" video processor. 

Atari 800XL

Despite bearing the TRS-80 name, the "Color Computer" is a radical departure from the earlier TRS-80; in particular it has a Motorola 6809E processor, rather than the TRS-80's Zilog Z80. Thus, despite the similar name, the new machine is not compatible with software made for the old TRS-80.

The Motorola 6809E was an advanced processor for the time, but was correspondingly more expensive than other, more popular, microprocessors. Competing machines such as the Apple IICommodore VIC-20, the Commodore 64, the Atari 400, and the Atari 800 were designed around the much cheaper MOS 6502. Some of these computers were paired with dedicated sound and graphics chips and were much more commercially successful in the 1980s home computer market.

The Tandy Color Computer line started in 1980 with what is now called the CoCo 1 and ended in 1991 with the more powerful, yet similar CoCo 3. All three CoCo models maintained a high level of software and hardware compatibility, with few programs written for the older model not running on the newer ones.

Tandy TRs80 Colour