It’s pretty rare that I get offered things to review, and I have refused quite a few when I have, as I only like reviewing stuff that I am genuinely interested in myself. But when I was contacted by the publishers of this book, I was certainly intrigued. ‘Home Computers: 100 Icons That Defined a Digital Generation‘ with text by Alex Wiltshire and photography by John Short. They offered to send me a review copy, and I said that if I accept I would have to of course give an honest review and give my genuine opinion.

First up, this is a pretty cool looking book. I do love my coffee table photography books and this certainly fits in well with my existing collection. It comes across as being very professionally made and with a very substantial weight, coming in at 255 pages.

This is a book about home computers, something I am extremely partial too. It’s not video game consoles, it’s specifically home computers, from the 70s and 80s, and it’s a very detailed list. There are lots of books that look at old computers or games consoles and they often claim to cover the full line up but they really don’t. I’m not saying this book covers every single home computer but the have included 100 and so they must have gotten pretty close. There are many machines in here that I had never heard of before. Or ones that I knew about but don’t get to see in many places. And some of them are absolutely gorgeous. Here’s a small example of some of the cool and more obscure machines covered.

  • Micro Networks Samurai S16
  • Research Machines 380Z
  • Memotech MTX 512
  • IBM 5150
  • Apricot PC
  • Olympia People
  • Thomson MO6
  • ICL Merlin Tonto
  • Didaktik M
  • VTech Laser 200

This is a book for people who love old computers. It’s not just a great list of rare machines or beautiful photography, it’s also got interesting information about each machine. So you could learn a lot too. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who likes sexy old computers from the 70s and 80s.

Here’s the official blurb from the website.

“As so much technology is forgotten once it is superseded, this is a celebration of machines, industrial design and techno-utopianism of an era in the not-so-distant past. Conceived as a visual sourcebook of the most popular, most powerful and most idiosyncratic computers to grace our workspaces, this timely publication offers a reflection on how far we’ve come and a nostalgic look at a time when digital worlds could be contained in a box and turned off, rather than ever-present in our lives.

Home Computers opens with a scene-setting retrospective by computer and gaming writer Alex Wiltshire. The book’s heart is a series of specially commissioned photographs that capture details of switches and early user-interface design, letterforms and logos, and the quirks that set one computer off from another. Images are complemented by a potted history of each device, the inventors or personalities behind it, and its innovations and influences.

The book is available for purchase at the Thames & Hudson website.