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10 Most Popular Computers in History


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ZX Spectrum
A Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer on display at the Science Museum in London, 2006.  Getty Images
A Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer on display at the Science Museum in London, 2006. Getty Images

While computer company Sinclair found success in the United States with the Timex Sinclair 1000, its greatest contribution to the industry was the ZX Spectrum, launched a few years later in 1982. The design was similar: The Spectrum was a small, affordable (£ 125 in the U.K.) system that incorporated a keyboard into its body. But the Spectrum was a much better computer than its predecessor thanks to 16KB of RAM and a real hardware keyboard (the Timex, known as the ZX-81 in the U.K., had a poor plastic membrane keyboard).

The ZX Spectrum line was successful worldwide, selling more than 5 million units during its lifetime [source: Old Computers]. But the Spectrum is also the computer that brought the PC into the home in the U.K. It was the first computer many people owned. The Spectrum launched hundreds or thousands of careers, as young hobbyists discovered a passion for computers thanks to the affordable machine. For British IT and video games, it all started with the ZX Spectrum.