The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
2012/106/1 Personal computer and visual display unit, 'Dick Smith System 80', plastic / wood / glass / electronic components, made by Dick Smith Electronics Pty Ltd, Hong Kong / Korea, 1980. Click to enlarge.

‘Dick Smith System 80’ personal computer

Made
The uptake of personal computing was increasing in Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s; however the cost and availability of personal home computers was still restrictive to many. The popularity of the Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) 80 personal computer prompted the Dick Smith Electronics stores to make a similar computer more widely available to the Australian market, and do so at a lower price.

The Dick Smith System 80 has been termed a TRS 80 clone; however, the System 80 had many of its own quirks which made it unique. The System 80 featured the cassette reader/recorder incorporated into the unit, and had an extra port for an external cassette unit. Moreover, many of the software commands were completely unique to the System 80. And, of course, the price of the System 80 was much more reasonable.

The Dick Smith Electronics chain of stores, founded by Australian entrepreneur and adventurer Dick Smith, began in 1968 with a single store in Sydney. Smith has a talent for marketing, and coupled with the popularity of citizens' band (CB) radio in the 1970s, and then electronic gaming and personal computers in the 1980s, Dick Smith stores opened nationally. The chain was bought by Woolworths Limited in the 1980s, and was further expanded. Rebranded as Dick Smith Power House, and Dick Smith Technology, the chain continues to trade in Australia and New Zealand.

Damian McDonald, curator
August 2012

Summary

Object No.

2012/106/1

Object Statement

Personal computer and visual display unit, 'Dick Smith System 80', plastic / wood / glass / electronic components, made by Dick Smith Electronics Pty Ltd, Hong Kong / Korea, 1980

Physical Description

The Dick Smith System 80 personal computer is beige moulded plastic with a black QWERTY keyboard that houses the central processing unit. The sides of the unit are made of wood board with a timber laminate, to match or blend with the household decor of the time. On the right top side of the unit is a data cassette reading apparatus, featuring the standard controls for compact cassette playing and recording. The label on the front of the unit states that the System 80 is a third generation computer, designed for Australia. The rear of the unit features the power cord, power switch, fuse, and video input and output, and input for an expansion module.

The Dick Smith video display unit is finished in the same beige plastic and closely resembles an ordinary portable television from the early 1980s.

Production

Notes

The Dick Smith System 80 was made in Hong Hong (the computer) and Korea (the monitor) in 1980.

The Dick Smith System 80 was designed to provide the Australian and New Zealand market with a more affordable and easily accessible personal computer similar to the successful TRS-80, which was designed and marketed by the Tandy Corporation in the United States of America and sold in their Radio Shack stores in America. The Dick Smith System 80 was sold through the Dick Smith Electronics chain of stores across Australia.

History

Notes

The Dick Smith System 80 was purchased by the donor so he could learn about computers, and entertain himself and gain skills. He used it to play games and develop a knowledge of personal computing. The computer was of course superseded, but the donor kept the System 80 in excellent condition, and donated it to the Powerhouse Museum in 2012.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of John Little, 2012

Acquisition Date

13 September 2012

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Dick Smith System 80' personal computer 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <https://ma.as/456918>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/456918 |title='Dick Smith System 80' personal computer |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}