The introduction of the ZX81 made it possible that everyone could afford a computer. First released in the U.K. the ZX81 became a top seller. Games and serious applications were produced in masses and small companies were founded e.g. Llamasoft. The ZX-Printer was made especially for the ZX81 and allowed the user to print directly from the ZX81 basic. The ZX81 sold more than 700000 times and has still a lot of fans which push the machine to its limits.
Everyone expected that IBM would somehow react. The computer giant was well known for its big computer that filled in whole rooms but they wanted to built a smaller machine. Together with two partners - Intel and a very small (and at that time totally unimportant) software producer called Microsoft - IBM produced the IBM-PC. There were only a few parts which were copyrighted by IBM themselves. One or two 5 1/4" disk drives, 64 KByte, 80 chars/line and later an optional hard disk (5 MB) made the IBM ideal for the industry. Although the first versions of MS-DOS were crap IBM was strong enough to set a new standard.
Other companies discovered very soon that only the BIOS was copyrighted. After a while they wrote a new BIOS which was compatible to the original one. Clones by Commodore and Compaq were much cheaper (1000 pounds) than the original (5000 pounds!). IBM couldn't do anything against the clone producers but Intel and Microsoft were really happy…
VIC 20 or VC20 was the name of the new Commodore machine which brought the company a huge commercial success. The VC20 was smaller as the PET but more powerful - colour games were possible together with sound. Serious application were a bit difficult because the VC20 could only display 32 chars/line.
Chronology1979 1980 1981
1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987
1988 1989 1990
1991 1992 1993
1994 1995 1996