The first time I saw a computer, was in a shop in 1980. I do not remember what it was but I was not very interested in it because I did not know what they could do. Later I discovered that the home computers of that time were more or less useless.. ;-). A friend of mine had a Sinclair ZX81 (in 1981) and in 1982 I borrowed a Sinclair ZX80 that was upgraded to a ZX81. This ZX81 had a white ZX80-case and two layers of keyboard plastics on top of each other so that the flat keyboard was even worse than it was from the beginning.
Still, it was fascinating to write small programs (it had 1 kilobyte of RAM) and see how they worked. At that time many of my friends got a Commodore 64 or a VIC 20 so I wanted a better machine myself. Sinclair Spectrum was introduced and my parents bought me a model with 48K RAM. It was a lot cheaper than the Commodore 64 at that time.
Spectrum was a good machine but it had some major drawbacks. You had to buy an external joystick-interface and there were two major standards that were not compatible with each other. Some games supported only one of these. The keyboard was awful (rubber keys) and the sound generated by the machine was not much better. The graphics got messed if two dots with different colours got near each others.
Spectrum was very popular and it seemed at one point that all major games released by British game companies were first made for Spectrum and then translated to other platforms. This changed later in favor for CBM 64.
Spectrum loaded games from a cassette recorder at the same speed that Commodore 64 loaded a game from a disk without a turbo loader. Still I wanted to have a disk drive and it was not possible with the Spectrum.
I also had an Aquarius but I newer intended to use it. It was so cheap that I could not resist; if you bought add-ons for 500FIM (~$100) you got the machine for free. I sold it later for the same price as I bought it.
After the Spectrum I got a Sinclair QL. It was a powerful dream machine that could be compared to almost anything at that time (at least from my point of view). QL had a decent keyboard, not a very good one but it worked. It also had a 80 column display ad it could be used with a 40 column display if it was connected to a TV. It had two Microdrives which used small cassettes that could fit into a matchbox. The Microdrives held 100Kb which was far too little because one picture or screenshot could take 32Kb (plain bitmap). The Microdrives were fast but unreliable and software companies did not like them. I believe that this machine would have been a killer if it had had a disk drive instead of the Microdrives. I guess that Sir Clive Sinclair did not see that his invention (the Microdrive) did not work very well. The machine was equipped with 4 programs: a word processor,a spreadsheet,a business graphics presentation program and a database program. These excellent programs were made by PSION.
Then I got a Amstrad CPC6128, it was on sale and it had everything I wanted. I knew it was not a very fancy machine but it had a built in disk drive and a monitor with a decent picture quality (at least compared to a TV connected via a RF cord). The biggest problem with the CPC series was the uncommon 3" disk size that it used. There was no standard for small disks and 2.8",3",3.5" existed at the same time. I sold the Amstrad after a year because I worked the whole summer of 1987 and bought an Amiga 500 for the money.
Read more on the Amiga here. I later on bought an Amiga 2000HD with a 20Mb hard drive. My last real computer before my PC-era was an Amiga 1200. I sold it in 1994.