I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who fully embraced new technology. In the late 1970s and early 1980s computers were frighteningly expensive, however, and my parents never thought they would be able to afford one.
The Timex Sinclair 1000 [sold as the ZX81 in the UK -Ed.], released in 1982, was priced for affordability and targeted to families. We got ours for $100 at Maas Brothers, a local department store. I was six then, and I still remember the day of purchase. It was like an old movie, where everything happened in slow motion. My mom happened to spot the computer from across the room and ran to it; Dad and I close on her heels. Once they saw the price tag, there was no question. We were to become computer owners! It was so exciting!
That computer had 2K memory. It had a black and white display and no sound. It could be hooked to a TV, cassette recorder or printer. A 16K expansion was available, but was far outside our price range. We did eventually buy the 4K expansion.
In retrospect, the computer was horrendously slow, but we didn’t know any different at the time. Dad was in school for industrial engineering, and he was able to do his homework on the computer. I was just learning to play chess, and I could do that with the computer! Of course, it took so long to process that I could literally make my move, go to school, and come home in time for the computer to make its move…but still, we had joined the computer revolution.
The Timex Sinclair 1000 fueled my imagination and began a lifelong love affair with computers. Amazingly in this era of disposable computers, that one still worked when it was lost to Hurricane Katrina. I hope to replace it someday.