Doug Crawford & Chris Fala demonstrated Commodore 8-bit machines performing similar tasks to Arduinos (or any other microcontrollers). I always like the VCF East exhibits that mix the retro with the modern to provide perspective and a point of reference for the younger generation.
Starting with a PET 4016, working its way through the VIC-20 and C64, all though the C-128. Oh, and with an SX-64, C16, C64C, C128D, and Plus/4 thrown in for good measure. Each machine was interacting with hardware just like an Arduino counterpart – both machines did the same thing.
For the most part, the demonstration machines were simply running banks of LEDs in unique configurations. However, the C128D was hooked into a 40 column composite display, an 80 column RGBi display, and a tiny 20 column vacuum florescent display, all operating at the same time.
Everything was running BASIC, operating on simple peeks and pokes to interact directly with the user ports for I/O. BASIC does a fantastic job of providing a non-intimidating coding environment for first time programmers.