This video about old Japanese PCs is delightfully 80s and extremely British

Back when PCs were referred to as "home micros," British Thames Television had a regular show called Database all about the computer industry and incredible emerging technologies. Like, say, sending an email or shopping online, which couldn't be more mundane today. But I really love this short segment where Database host Tony Bastable travels to Japan circa 1984 to check out the country's booming PC scene.

It's full of imagery of 80s Japanese shopping malls and electronics stands, and a close-up look at an Apple II knock-off or "pirate computer." There's also a bemused westerner air to the whole video that's pretty funny. At one point Bastable comments that no one's asked him where he's from and suggests he could be a Russian spy, and later mentions that not a single computer he's seen came from Europe. It's true: Japan's PC industry always did its own thing, as we've written about before with the history of the MSX.

I hope someday Thames TV uploads the next week's program—at the end of this clip, Bastable says he'll be talking about some specific Japanese home PCs. This episode's already a great, though short, time capsule of 80s Tokyo.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).