The ZX81. My first machine. I also got (and repaired) one this Christmas.
Now, it's importance to the US is pretty nil, but this little machine was a huge deal in the UK.
See, it allowed you to own a computer for £69 (less than half of what anyone else was charging). That's really important and kickstarted the entire British gaming boom.
Many of the great UK games writers started out with the 81 and, for that reason alone, it does demand a little respect.
Sure, it had no color, no sound, some hardware issues, but that wasn't important then. It was a computer and that was enough.
I'm sure its importance was higher to the UK, but I actually knew quite a few people BITD who had one here in the US. One friend I had actually used his quite extensively. It was super cheap at the time compared to anything else out, until all the prices on the other machines started dropping drastically. As I said previously, I actually like the little machine for what it is. No disrespect was intended. Some people will (and clearly have) understand what this thread was really about, and some will not, but I just wanted to make the note (again) that no disrespect toward the Sinclair machine is intended. My first machine was a Vic-20, which I think was (and is) a great machine, but some give it no respect, or even want to give it a try. And that doesn't bother me, because it doesn't take away from my enjoyment of it at all. One of my (many, probably too subtle, and probably not well-executed) points here is that people get SO offended and irate with each other in all these "vs" threads... the threads could be very interesting, but 95% of the time turn into petty bickering and bludgeoning with fanboyism... it's absurd and ruins a good thing every time. Well-reasoned replies like your own are a good thing, but the "I cannot believe you cannot see the truth when I'm telling it to you" responses are not. Compare my Vic-20 to a Lite-Brite, I don't care, won't offend me... it's a computer obsolete for 25+ years for crying out loud!
And honestly, on that note, I'd prefer to just let this thread die altogether.
I hope we can let that happen. The moments where it was (or could have been) funny are now past anyway. Sorry to anyone offended, that certainly was not the point. The TS-1000/ZX-81 certainly has a place in history as an important step in bringing the price of computers down for both hobbyists and users, and it's fun to see how far people can push it (and any old machine) to this day.
Thanks for playing along.