PM PC Review from 1982

Here’s a link to a Popular Mechanics article that reviews the top 6 personal computers of 1982. On their comparison test were the Apple II, the Atari 800, the original IBM PC, the Commodore PET 2001, the Radio Shack TRS80 Model III, and the Texas Instruments 99/4A. Most of these machines came with two floppy drives and hard disk drives were sold separately. Personal computers, with a hard drives, had an average cost of $1,900 in 1982. That’s almost $4,100 in today’s dollars! PCs were so expensive at first that they were out of reach for most of the middle class. To put it in perspective cars were about $10,000 in 1982, so a PC was one fifth the price!

However, kids like me could buy used ones pretty easily a few years after their release, when new models made the older models less desirable. My first personal computer was a modded Atari 1200XL (it had an Atari 800XL OS ROM) that I bought used from a friend of mine, with all his software, back in 1985. He sold it to me because his family had bought an Apple IIC. I don’t remember how much I paid for it but it was less than $300 and I was pretty excited about it. Mostly because I could play Karateka and the Zork Trilogy in the comfort of my own room. These early computers were a lot of fun. Via BoingBoing.


  1. For excellent nostalgia, you may want to catch War Games, now playing on heavy rotation on STARS. This comment is not a commercial, per se, as much as it sounds like it, and if it helps anyone remember how to make free long distance phone calls with a quarter and a pull tab, then Mission Accomplished. A very young-faced Matthew Broderick helps Gen-X come to terms with zero-sum game theory (‘the only winning move…’), authority, and fledgling romance with a Nathalie-Portman-come-Lucas-woodeness Ali Sheedy. Truly a fun romp down a far less jaded (and certainly less cynical) path through NORAD, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. I imagine this pre-dates the Apple IIe: I will have to remind myself how to spell ‘Commadore,’ comrades.

    #1 by Steve Thompson — April 13, 2007 @ 11:18 am

  2. War Games was the first mainstream film that introduced audiences to the hacker subculture, even if it was “watered down” for mass consumption. The term “war dialing” in which a computer would dial random numbers to search for a computer (or modem) on the other end came from this film.

    I love this film! Hearing the phrase “Want to a play a game?” in an over-modulated faux robotic voice was every 12-year-old’s dream after watching this, even if reality was nothing like it.

    As a fellow Gen-Xer, I am as nostalgic of this film as I am of Electric Dreams. Both of these are films that every Gen-X geek should watch before dying. Seriously.

    #2 by Nugget — April 16, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

If you Connect with Facebook your email address will not be published.

Enter the anti-spam code displayed above (required)