The Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I was one of the first popular home computers. Here's a Web site with a Java-based emulator of the TRS-80 Model I's Basic.
The first computer I can remember seeing was the Radio Shack Model I. I was in middle school at the time, and one of my teachers bought it and brought it in for students to play with. It had the monitor and keyboard and that's it. Programs had to be stored on cassette tape.
I don't remember, and wouldn't have known at the time anyway, all the technical details of the machine. I'm sure it was the base unit. At the time the base TRS-80 Model I sold for $599, which is over $2,000 in today's money. A base unit came with a whopping 4K of RAM and a Zilog Z-80 processor that ran at 1.77 Mhz.
It was a fun little machine, but pretty much useless by today's standards. About all we could do with it was write our own little Basic programs, but even that was fun at the time.
Simulating the TRS-80 Model I Basic
I found a site where you can kick the tires on the Model I's Basic without having to buy a unit on eBay. The TRS-80 Level I Basic Emulator Web site has a full Basic emulator running in Java. Naturally you can't load any programs into it, but it's certainly fun to play with.
Check it out and see what state-of-the-art looked like in the Jimmy Carter era.