I looked at Radio Shack, Apple, Commodore, and some S100 stuff at several local computers stores. Apple II required constant hacking and had severe glitches unless lots of extra money was spent on a CP/M card -- unless all you wanted to do was play games. CP/M-S100 boxes were business- and hacker-only. Commodore PET had a calculator-button keyboard and a shape only Wonder Woman could love (IRA?). Radio Shack Trash-80 Model 1 came as a complete system in a box, for a reasonable price (about 1/2 Apple's), with manuals written in Real English, and just worked (until I started expanding it and had to disassemble every 6 months for cleaning the non-gold-plated card edges). Had many home and business apps, some of which came with source code. Used it for over 10 years, until for work compatibility reasons I finally had to get a clone 386 with Windoze 3.1 (a step down in usability).
theodp writes: As IBM gives itself a self-congratulatory pat on the back as it celebrates its 100th anniversary, Robert X. Cringely wants to set the record straight: 'IBM didn't invent the personal computer', writes Cringely, 'but they don't know that.' Claiming to have done so, he adds, soils the legacy of Ed Roberts and pisses off all real geeks in the process. Throwing Big Blue a bone, Cringely is willing to give IBM credit for 'having helped automate the Third Reich'.