Computers Overview
Commodore PET
Sinclair ZX80
Sinclair ZX81
BBC Micro
Commodore 64
Sinclair ZXSpectrum
Memotech MTX
Memotech CP/M
Atari ST
Commodore Amiga
PDAs
DEC 3000 AXP
OpenVMS
Raspberry Pi

 

 

 

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Overview

This section of the website describes my introduction to computing through the early days of "home computers" of the 1980s, as well as my forays into "retro-computing" as I have acquired a few legacy machines in recent years. The menu bar at the left lists the computers in chronological order of their production, not necessarily when I obtained them.

My first Home Computer was the Sinclair ZX81 which I bought pre-assembled in, I guess, 1981! This came with a whole 1kBytes of RAM but I added the wobbly Sinclair16kByte expansion module which fitted (loosely) to the edge connector at the rear. This kept me amused for a while, but I soon upgraded to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum - which came with 48kBytes RAM and colour graphics. Around this time, I was using some relatively powerful computers at work so wanted to upgrade to something a little more powerful for home use and came across the MTX series from a UK company called Memotech which had previously made an early entry into the home computer market producing add-ons for the ZX81.

The MTX had the "look and feel" of a "proper" computer, built in a sleek anodized black case and sporting a full size keyboard with function keys and a numeric keypad.

Having used a system at work that ran CP/M 2.2, when Memotech brought out the CP/M based FDX unit, I just had to have one! At the time, I was full of good intentions, such as learning Z80 assembly language (with Microsoft MASM ) and "C" (with the Small "C" Compiler). I also had the "latest" business software - NewWord (Word Processor), Supercalc (Spreadsheet) and the ubiquitous dBaseII (Database). I'm sorry to say though, that I did not use the tools to their best effect and ended up using the system to play games most of the time :-)

Around 1988, my FDX system developed a fault which made the system unusable. At the same time, I had started a new job which involved a lot of time away from home and reduced the amount of time that I had to pursue my hobby. Coupled with the fact that my job now involved more hands-on with "real" computers, including mini computers such as the Honeywell/Bull DPS-6 and process control systems, my MTX fell into disuse. However, I always hoped to revisit it at some point in the future and was always on the look out for replacement hardware that I could use to rebuild my system but never really made strenuous efforts to do anything about it.

The Memotech MTX section is by far the most comprehensive area of the site, this is where my main interest lies, and given the comparative rarity of this machine and corresponding shortage of Memotech resources in the internet, I am trying to make the Memotech information on this site as comprehensive as possible.

Others sections will be updated and expanded as time allows.

Timeline

Year Computer
1981 Sinclair ZX81
1982 Sinclair ZX Spectrum
1983 Memotech MTX512
1984 Memotech MTX512 FDX expansion unit with CP/M
1986 Viglen VigII Elite - my first "PC" - an IBM Clone Personal Computer with an Intel 286 CPU
Progress ? Things became much less interesting after that, 286s became 386s, which became 486s and Pentiums etc. etc. Whilst I have had (and still own) a wide range of these machines, none of them inspire me to add their details here.
  Computers got much faster and far more capable, software grew at a pace to keep up with them - or in Microsoft's case, grew faster than the hardware that was capable of running it!
  Sure, computers today are far more powerful than in the early 80's but not nearly as much fun ! These pages hark back to a time when computers really were breaking new ground - I hope you enjoy this window (not that we had Windows back then) into a bygone age.
   
  I had forgotten about the PDA's that we used before iPhones and the like, an e-mail conversation with DKW on the MTX500 Facebook group has prompted me to add a few pages about the small number of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) that I have owned.

1993

   Psion 3a 

1997

   Psion Series 5

2001

   Compaq (HP) 3970
   
  Back to "proper" computers . . . .
2008 DEC Alpha 3000 Model 600 - my VMS stuff will get added in due course
History Revisited ?

2009

 

Atari ST

While I was  trying to resurrect my Memotech collection, John Masterman introduced me to the Atari ST range. I was aware of the Atari ST in the early eighties, but didn't actually use, never mind own one. John let me have a working 520 STFM which I am having fun "discovering".

Back to the future?

2012

Raspberry PI

Cheap, single board computer based on an ARM processor. It seems like everybody wants one and I have two three (- darn it, another purchase) ! One is even pretending to be a Memotech system !

Going backwards again?

2012

BBC Microcomputer

I've never had a 6502 based computer but had thought about picking up a BBC Micro from eBay if one came up that was cheap enough, although I never did anything about it. Thanks to a generous soul on Freegle (it's like FreeCycle), I have just picked up a Model B. That's something else to add to my growing list of "things to do"! - It's priority is probably somewhere just after Memotech.

Even further back

2014

Commodore PET

Back in the '80s, I really liked the look of the Commodore PET and, like the BBC, had harboured some thoughts of trying to pick one up at some point. The early versions with the integrated tape recorder and 40 column screen did not appeal to me too much, but when an 80 column one with disk drives came up on ebay, relatively locally to me, I put in a bid and much to my surprise- won it.

And forwards

2015

Commodore Amiga

I have absolutely no time for taking on other projects, but I persuaded myself that I needed an Commodore Amiga - another machine that I know little about, but fancied the look of in the '80s.

2016 Commodore 64

Aarrgghhh, yet another vintage computer has been added to the collection - this time, there is a slight justification, I needed a C64 to be able to test the operation of petSD+ with Commodore computers having an IEC serial port.

Credits

There is a huge quantity of information available on the net covering most of the computers that you'll see here. The information here is not intended to complete with the many sites specialising in one or more of these computers, these pages show some highlights from my early computer experiences. To really do these machines justice, please make use of the other excellent sites available - many of which I have referred to for the basic information contained here. The links on this page will take you to some other sites that I have used :-

Andy Key

Andy Key's Memotech site, a great resource for technical info on the MTX range

Check out the MEMU (software) and REMEMOTECH (hardware) emulator projects amongst others.

Planet Sinclair Chris Owen's comprehensive archive of Sinclair related information, including the Sinclair range of computers
Grant Searle Grant Searle's Homebuilt Electronics pages - some really neat stuff, including the ZX80
Tony Barnett ZX Software UK, a good source of information for Sinclair ZX computers
   
   
   
   
   
   
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