Over time, computers became less intimidating to the common man by becoming accessible to those who weren't necessarily masters in programming. Here, we reviewed three easy-to-use models: the APF Imagination Machine, the Atari 800, and the TI-99/4, all of which required minimal assembly. Programming them required just a couple days of intense tinkering, while external hardware, such as printers, were as simple to plug in as an electric fan.
A few notes on these devices: The APF Imagination Machine came in two separate components, the first being APF's MP-1000 programmable video game. While this unit couldn't accept custom programming, hooking it up with a separate keyboard would transform it into a computer that understands commands. A cassette would give the computer instructions. Meanwhile, the Atari 800 was more expensive, but it could accommodate a printer, tape deck, and up to four disk drives. You could also add more RAM to achieve a maximum of 48K. The TI-99/4 was the flashiest computer of the bunch. Not only could it host the usual add-ons, but it could came with a speaking module and musical capability.
Not surprisingly, we were enthralled by the talking device: "You haven't lived until your home computer says 'hello' and asks you to 'please enter a number.'"
Read the full story in "Three New Home Computers That Teach Themselves - And Teach You How to Use Them"