Other 8-Bit Computers
Updated April 2005 (Tandy Model 100)
Here are some other classic computers I have...
The Interact home computer.
Originally, this was to be my very first
computer almost 20 years ago. However, when
I called Protecto Enterprises to order it
(from a magazine ad), I was told they had
already sold out, but were just about to
start selling another computer called the
"APF Imagination Machine..." So, I wound up
getting the APF instead. Now, thanks to Jim
Agar, I finally have an Interact Computer to
tinker around with! From what I've found out,
Interact Electronics (formerly of Ann Arbor MI)
supposedly went bankrupt before the computers
even hit the market, and Protecto (and another
company, MicroVideo) bought the computers to
close out. MicroVideo supported the machine,
making a 32k Upgrade and stringy floppy drive.
The Interact Computer: 8080A CPU (2Mhz), 8K or 16K of RAM, 2K of ROM,
Graphics of 112x78 in 8 colors, 17 characters of text per line,
a built-in 1200 baud cassette deck, and two combined joystick/paddles.
There is only 2K ROM in the machine. Everything (including BASIC) must
be loaded from tape. Power is 110-120 volts AC, with average power
consumption at 5-8 watts. Connection via an RF modulator (TV channel 3).
Microsoft Level II BASIC was an offered program cassette, and when
loaded, the opening screen shows:
I N T E R A C T
M I C R O S O F T
B A S I C V E R . 4 . 7
C O P Y R I G H T 1 9 7 8
B Y M I C R O S O F T
4 6 9 8 B Y T E S F R E E
Height: 4.0 in.
Width: 10.5 in.
Length: 18.25 in.
Weight: 12 lbs.
The Interact came with a 90-day warranty, and was FCC & UL approved.
NOTE: I no longer have my Interact computer. After seeing what I missed
by not having one as a kid, I donated it to someone who keeps an extensive
collection of old computers, knowing that it will live on and remain a part
of early microcomputer history.
The Radio Shack MC-10
The Radio Shack Micro Color Computer is a small
cousin to Radio Shack's larger Color Computers.
Not as powerful, but still quite fun to use, this
6803-based, Made-in-Korea unit came with 4K of RAM
standard (20k with the optional 16k RAM pak), and
was a great way to introduce a novice to the world
of personal computers. More popular in Australia
than the U.S., Radio Shack marketed only a few
programs for the unit, including a term program,
and a great pinball game ("Lost World Pinball",
still available through Radio Shack for $2.59).
The same exact computer was also sold in France
by Matra-Hachette as the "Alice", and was
a popular entry-level computer there.
The unit offers a 64x32 semi-graphics mode with 8 colors,
as well as an officially undocumented high-resolution
mode (which requires the 16k RAM pak) in four colors.
The "Lost World Pinball" game above is programmed in this
hi-res mode. Sound (through the TV speaker) is one-voice
and five octaves. The unit has DINs for a cassette recorder
and serial I/O port, but not for joysticks. Standard is
8k Microsoft BASIC, and tokens could be used for BASIC
commands to help save memory. One of the options available
for the unit was a small, 32-column thermal printer,
though the computer was hardly supported by Radio Shack.
Really, a fun little machine.
The Radio Shack Micro Color Computer MC-10 (USA/Canada/Australia) As the Matra-Hachette "Alice" (France)
The Radio Shack Model 100
The Radio Shack Model 100 was the first
true laptop computer. The Kyocera-made
unit features an 8-line LCD text screen
with block graphics, and runs for
several hours on 4 "AA" batteries. I've
wanted one of these for years, and not
too long ago, picked one up, along with
the matching "AA" battery-powered 3.5"
IN 1983, NEC sold this same machine in Japan as
the PC8201, and here are some of the specs: 8-bit
CMOS version of the 8085 CPU, with a clock speed
of 2.4Mhz. Weight is 1.7kg. With 4 AA batteries,
the battery life would be 18 hours. The NEC version
was basically the same Kyoceca-made unit as the Tandy
Model 100, but cosmetically, the Tandy was flatter,
and had a better-designed keyboard. One other difference
is a left-side expansion slot for more RAM or a CRT
connection. The Japanese version could display English
and Japanese syllabary (for kanji, you could buy a ROM
with the kanji), and the price was 138,000 yen in 1983.
The same basic Kyocera-made machine has been known as:
Tandy Model 100: US, first version, 8K RAM
Tandy Model 102: Slimmer, lighter than Model 100
Tandy Model 1200: 16 line folding display type.
NEC PC-8201: Sold only in Japan in 3 colors -- white, grey or red.
NEC PC-8201A (Made for US use)
NEC PC-8300 (Made for US, 32K RAM)
Olivetti M10: Sold in Europe and US.
Kyotronic 85 (KC-85): Very rare, under Kyocera's own brand (Kyosei)
Much of this info was taken from a Japanese webpage on the NEC version: here.
MODEL 100 NEC PC-8201 (Grey) Ad for PC-8201
Click here to see what Bill Gates has to say about the Model 100. (It was the
last machine Bill personally wrote code for).
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