I was always jealous of the Spectrum crowd. I plumped for the Texas Instruments TI-99, which had the same RAM and some great games, but you could only program in Basic. The only way to program in machine code was to buy a really expensive plug-in cartridge. And since programs written in Basic ran really slowly the machine turned out to be rubbish.
"The CPU was 5ft by 3ft by 6ft and weighed 1966 lbs, and rented for $3200 per month. The power unit was 5x3x6 and weighed 2972 pounds. The card reader/punch weighed 1295 pounds and rented for $550/month. The 650 could add or subtract in 1.63 milliseconds, multiply in 12.96 msec, and divide in 16.90 ms. The memory was a rotating magnetic drum with 2000 word (10 digits and sign) capacity and random access time of 2.496 ms. For an additional $1,500/month you could add magnetic core memory of 60 words with access time of .096ms.)
The 60 words referred to above was what we today call RAM. 60 words was 600 bytes and was used only to buffer Input/output from an attached magnetic reel-to-reel tape unit! The main memory was the magnetic drum referred to. It was the equivalent of 20,000 bytes, but only stored encoded decimal digits. As programmers, to optimism code for performance sake, we needed to position the program steps and data around the drum so as to optimize access as the drum rolled around past a single set of heads.
what the heck is that spectrum thing anyway. sorry, i'm not 342 years old like some of you guys, so you'll have to give me a history lesson. thanks.
16KB worth (or 48KB if you were rich) of Donkey Kong playing goodness. It plugged into your TV, loaded programs from a standard cassette tape, and made a lot of horrid little blips and squeaks. But we thought they were great.
I had a few friends who jumped on board even before the Spectrum and ended up lumbered with a ZX81, which had exactly 1KB of RAM, and could do nothing at all on a good day.