The Definitive List of the Top 36 Games-capable US Computer Systems of All Time

Bill Loguidice's picture

In the spirit of the umpteenth tedious and unnecessary "Top whatever" list, which I railed against here, I present The Definitive List of the Top 36 Games-capable US Computer Systems of All Time, which is based off of my classic System Ranking Matrix, which factors in Visuals; Audio; Controller Options and Quality; Add-Ons, Peripherals, Expandability, Features; Software Lineup Diversity and Complexity; Software Density and Raw Number of Mainstream Titles; Ease to Set Up Optimal Game Playing System; and Initial (first run) Popularity to come up with an overall score. It's about as scientific as you can make a decidedly opinion-based concept be. Of course this list focuses only on those games-capable computer systems that actually had a wide release in the US (really, North America), and omits videogame systems (consoles and handhelds) for the sake of clarity, as well as, for now, platforms like the iPhone. Enjoy v.09 of the list (and no, I don't feel like showing my work at this time):

Ranking - System - Release Year - AA Overall Score
36 - CP/M Compatible Systems (pre-built) - 1981 - 16
35 - Timex Sinclair 1000/1500 with 16K Memory Expansion - 1982 - 18
34 - Commodore PET Series - 1977 - 19.5
33 - APF M1000, MP1000 and Imagination Machine - 1978 - 20
32 - Mattel Aquarius with Mini Expander and 16K Memory Cartridge - 1983 - 20
31 - Timex Sinclair 2068 - 1983 - 20.5
30 - Spectravideo SV-series - 1983 - 21.5
29 - Tandy TRS-80 Model I, III, 4 - 1977 - 23
28 - Commodore 16 (C-16) and Plus/4 - 1984 - 25.5
27 - Tomy Tutor - 1983 - 26.5
26 - Commodore VIC 20 (Vic-20) - 1981 - 35.5
25 - Pocket PC Platform - 1996 - 35.5
24 - Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 1/2 (CoCo1 or CoCo2) - Up to 64K - 1980 - 37
23 - Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 3 (CoCo3) - 128K Unit - 1986 - 37.5
22 - PalmOS Platform - 1996 - 38
21 - IBM PCjr - 1984 - 38.5
20 - IBM and Compatible PC's up to 286's with CGA graphics and PC speaker sound (DOS) - 1981 - 39.5
19 - Texas Instruments TI-994/A - 1981 - 43.5
18 - Apple Macintosh up to 16 color 680x0-based - 1984 - 44.5
17 - Tandy 1000 Series - 1984 - 48
16 - Coleco Adam - 1983 - 50.5
15 - IBM and Compatible PC's up to 386's with EGA graphics and Ad Lib sound (DOS)* - 1985 - 51
14 - Apple Macintosh pre-iMac PowerPC-based, Full Color - 1994 - 52
13 - Apple IIgs - 1986 - 56.5
12 - Atari ST Series - 1985 - 56.5
11 - Apple II Series* - 48K - 128K - 1977 - 58.5
10 - Commodore Amiga Series - AGA Chipset - 1992 - 59.5
09 - IBM and Compatible PC's up to Pentiums with VGA/SVGA graphics and Soundblaster sound (DOS)* - 1994 - 61.5
08 - Commodore Amiga Series - OCS Chipset, Amiga CDTV - 1985 - 62.5
07 - Atari 8-bit Computers/XEGS* - 48K - 64K - 1979 - 63
06 - Commodore 64/128* (C-64/C-128) - 64K Software - 1982 - 64
05 - IBM and Compatible PC's up to Pentium II's with First Generation 3D (Monster 3D equivalent) graphics and Soundblaster Pro sound (DOS/Windows)* - 1996 - 66
04 - Apple Macintosh up to G4 or better with Current Generation 3D graphics - 1999 - 68
03 - Apple Macintosh with Dual Core Intel and beyond - 2006 - 72
02 - Windows-based PC's up to Pentium 4's with Third Generation 3D graphics and Soundblaster Audigy-level sound* - 2000 - 78.5
01 - Windows-based PC's starting with Dual Core and DirectX 10 and beyond* - 2006 - 80

*Indicates dominant platform for its era and class