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Company Profile: Cambridge Computer Ltd. (Cambridge, U.K.)

March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

For many mobile professionals, the Z88 was the perfect portable computer. It was small and light with a full-size keyboard and could run for hours on four standard alkaline batteries. Its OZ operating system was designed for mobile use, allowing for easy task switching among the built-in applications and maximizing system resources. A built-in utility allowed for easy file transfer with a PC. Z88 owners were often fanatical about the computers, and the systems are still in demand today. Be careful about the plastic covering the LCD, as it scratches easily.

The Z88 was designed by Sir Clive Sinclair, who kick-started the consumer microcomputer business in the U.K. with the Sinclair ZX80 in 1980.

Cambridge Computer Z88 (Sept. 1987, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $499
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, OZ, three proprietary expansion slots, 32K RAM (3MB max), 128K ROM, EPROM card storage, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard, RS-232 port, application suite, BBC BASIC, AC adapter
Video: 8-line x 106-column text
Size/Weight: 11.5 x  8.25 x .87 inches, 1.88 lbs.
Important Options: modem

Company Profile: Cado Systems Corp. (Torrance, Calif.)

March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Cado sold its C.A.T. (Computer Aided Tutor) system to professionals and small businesses with promise that the computer would teach the customer how to use it. The C.A.T. came with a set of tutorials that the user selected from a menu item. Cado introduced the C.A.T. around 1982.

Cado C.A.T.

Cado C.A.T.

Cado C.A.T.  System 20(Computer-Aided Tutor) (desktop)
Base Configuration: two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, monochrome monitor, keyboard/keypad, application suite, printer, tutorial software
Important Options: 52MB hard drive

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Company Profile: CAD/CAM On-Line Inc. (Chatsworth, Calif.)

March 3, 2010 1 comment

CAD/CAM On-Line originally intended the MiDAS3 as a computer-aided design system, but soon made it available as a general-purpose, high-performance computer. Everything about this portable was industrial strength, including a titanium case, dual cooling fans, and a big gas plasma display. A military version of the MiDAS3 was sold by Diversified Computer Consultants.

CAD/CAM On-Line MiDAS Portable

CAD/CAM On-Line MiDAS Portable

CAD/CAM On-Line MiDAS3 Portable (June 1987, transportable PC)
Original Retail Price: $6,495
Base Configuration: 12.5MHz 80286 CPU, MS-DOS 3.2, seven ISA slots, 1MB RAM (4MB max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 30MB hard disk drive, 14-inch monochrome gas plasma display, keyboard/keypad, two serial and two parallel ports
Video: 720 x 350 graphics
Size/Weight: 17 x 15 x 7.5 inches, 24 lbs.
Important Options: Unix System V, tape backup drive, external battery pack

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Company Profile: Byte Shop Inc. (El Camino, Calif.)

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The Byte Shop’s main claim to fame is that it was the first computer retailer to order the Apple I computer. Owner Paul Terrell paid Jobs and Wozniak cash in advance for 50 assembled systems, and his order launched Apple as a real business.

The Byt-8 was the “house brand” system. It was also sold under the Olson name.

Byte Shop Byt-8 (1977, early micro)
Original Retail Price: $539
Base Configuration: 8080A CPU, S-100 bus, status LEDs, front panel switches

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Company Profile: BT Enterprises (Bohemia, N.Y.)

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The BT Model III was a souped-up Tandy-made TRS-80 Model III. B.T. Enterprises installed a faster processor, high-quality drive controller with floppy and hard drives, and a real-time clock.

BT Enterprises Model III

BT Enterprises Model III

BT Model III Microcomputer (1983, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $3,995 to $4,295
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, DOSPLUS 4.0, 48K RAM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 5MB hard disk drive, integral monochrome CRT, integral keyboard/keypad
Important Options: 10- or 15.7MB hard disk drive

Company Profile: Bondwell Industrial Co. Inc. (Fremont, Calif.)

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Hong Kong-based Bondwell purchased home computer vendor Spectravideo in 1984. In 1985, Spectravideo changed its name to Bondwell and switched from making home computer systems to CP/M and PC-compatible desktop and portable computers. Bondwell’s laptops were relatively inexpensive, and examples frequently pop up today.

Sold primarily as a word-processing system, the Bondwell 22 had an odd configuration. The main unit was a half-tower design with a small CRT imbedded at the top that displays the software menu. A standalone monitor is for text display. Because all the Bondwell 22 components are tightly integrated, an incomplete example would be of limited or no use.

The Bondwell 12 emphasized compatibility with Kaypro systems. A Bondwell 14 offered dual 360K floppy drives, twice the capacity of the Bondwell 12’s drives.

The most exceptional feature of the Bondwell 2 CP/M laptop was its price–less than $1,000. The Bondwell 8 was the company’s first PC-compatible laptop. Although inexpensive, it was a tad heavy for a laptop with mediocre viewing quality on the LCD.

In 1991, Bondwell claimed an unusual first for a laptop computer: a built-in motion detector. It acted as a security device. Unless you typed in a password, the computer sounded an alarm if you tried to move it. My guess is it was more of an annoyance for the owner than a theft deterrent.

Bondwell 22 (1984, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $3,500
Base Configuration: two Z80A CPUs, CP/M 3.0, 128K RAM, 4K ROM, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 7-inch monochrome CRT and 12-inch monochrome monitor, keyboard/keypad with integral trackball, two RS-232C and one parallel port, daisy-wheel printer, application suite
Video: 24-line x 81-column text (monitor)/24-line x 40-column text (integral CRT)
Important Options: hard disk drive, modem, speaker-phone card

Bondwell 38

Bondwell 38

Bondwell 38 (1986, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,195
Base Configuration: 4.77/8MHz 8088 CPU, 640K RAM, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, serial and parallel ports, 5 expansion slots, MS-DOS
Important Options: 20MB hard drive

Bondwell 12 (1984, transportable)
Original Retail Price: $1,595
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, CP/M, 64K RAM, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, composite video port, keyboard/keypad, two serial and one parallel port, speech synthesizer, BASIC, application suite, modem
Size/Weight: 26 lbs.

Bondwell 2 (1985, laptop)
Original Retail Price: $995
Base Configuration: Z80L CPU, CP/M 2.2, expansion slot, 64K RAM (256K max), 4K ROM, 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, monochrome LCD, serial and parallel ports, application suite, voice synthesizer, internal modem, battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 11.2 x 12.2 x 3.1 inches, 11 lbs.
Important Options: external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive

Bondwell 8 (1986, laptop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,595
Base Configuration: 80C88 CPU, 512K RAM, MS-DOS 2.11, 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, monochrome LCD, RGB and composite video ports, integral keyboard, serial and parallel ports, GW-BASIC, internal modem, AC adapter
Video: 25-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 12.5 x 11 x 3.5 inches, 12 lbs.
Important Options: external 3.5- or 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, carrying case

Bondwell B100 (laptop PC)
Base Configuration: 9.83MHz V30 CPU, 512K RAM, 1MB ROM, parallel and serial ports, NiCad or alkaline battery
Important Options: 2400bps modem

Bondwell B200 Superslim

Bondwell B200 Superslim

Bondwell B200 Superslim (laptop PC)
Base Configuration: 8MHz 80C88 CPU, 640K RAM, 2 3.5-inch floppy drives, serial and parallel ports, video port,  10.5-inch supertwist monochrome LCD, NiCad battery
Size and Weight: 13w x 12.2d x 2.4h inches, 6.9 lbs.

Bondwell B310 Superslim

Bondwell B310 Superslim

Bondwell B310 Superslim (1990, laptop PC)
Base Configuration: 12MHz 80C286 CPU, 1MB RAM (2MB max), 40MB hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, parallel and 2 serial ports, 10.5-inch supertwist monochrome LCD, 81-key keyboard, NiCad battery, MS-DOS 3.3
Video: CGA, 640 x 200 pixels
Size and Weight: 13w x 12.2d x 2.2h inches, 7.6 lbs.
Important Options: carrying case

Bondwell B310P Superslim (1990, laptop PC)
Base Configuration: 12MHz 80C286 CPU, 1MB RAM (2MB max), 40MB hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, parallel and 2 serial ports, backlit 10.5-inch supertwist monochrome LCD, 81-key keyboard, NiCad battery, MS-DOS 3.3
Video: CGA, 640 x 200 pixels
Size and Weight: 13w x 12.2d x 2.2h inches, 7.6 lbs.
Important Options: carrying case

Bondwell B310V (1991, laptop PC)
Base Configuration: 16MHz 80286 CPU, 1MB RAM (5MB max), 40MB hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, monochrome supertwist LCD, 81-key keyboard, parallel and 2 serial ports, video port, NiCad battery, MS-DOS 4.01
Video: VGA, 640 x 480 pixels
Size and Weight: 13w x 12.5d x 2.1h inches, 7.5 lbs.
Important Options: carrying case, 80MB hard drive]

Bondwell B310SX

Bondwell B310SX

Bondwell B310SX (1991, laptop PC)
Base Configuration: 16MHz 80386SX CPU, 1MB RAM (5MB max), 80MB hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, monochrome supertwist LCD, 81-key keyboard, parallel and 2 serial ports, video port, NiCad battery, MS-DOS 4.01
Video: VGA, 640 x 480 pixels
Size and Weight: 13w x 12.5d x 2.1h inches, 7.5 lbs.
Important Options: carrying case

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Company Profile: BMC Systems Inc. (Century City, Calif.)

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

There’s no mistaking the if800 for anything else. Its unique all-in-one design places the CRT and drives above the main unit on two columns, with a built-in printer in the middle. Oki Electric built the if800 and sold it in Japan, although with a different configuration. The Sumicom 830 appears to be the same system as well.

BMC if800 (1983, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $4,995 Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU; CP/M; ROM cartridge slot; four expansion slots; 128K RAM (256K max); two 8-inch floppy disk drives; integral 12-inch color CRT; integral keyboard/keypad; RS-232C, IEEE-488, parallel, and light-pen ports; Oki BASIC; integral printer
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Important Options: 16-bit coprocessor; 16MB hard disk drive; parallel, IEEE-488, and ADC/DAC interfaces; light pen

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Company Profile: Bell & Howell Audio-Visual Products Division (Chicago, Ill.)

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The Bell & Howell Microcomputer wasn’t an Apple II clone; it was a relabeled Apple II made by Apple in a redesigned black or gray case. Bell & Howell had a long-established sales channel into the education market, and Apple was savvy enough to take advantage of it. Several modifications were made for use in schools. The back panel had an array of headphone and speaker jacks, as well as several volume controls. Three AC power outlets allowed you to plug in accessories to the computer, and a cover lock prevented tampering. Since Bell & Howell systems were sold exclusively to schools, surviving units have usually taken a beating. A pristine system would command a higher-than-average premium.

Bell & Howell Microcomputer System

Bell & Howell Microcomputer System

Bell & Howell Microcomputer (1980, Apple II-class desktop)
Base Configuration: 6502 CPU; eight expansion slots; 16K RAM (48K max); 12K ROM; TV video port; integral keyboard; RS-232C, parallel, and cassette ports; BASIC; two game paddles; reference and BASIC manuals
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 280 x 160 graphics, 15 colors
Important Options: external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, graphics tablet, modem, printer

Company Profile: Basis Microcomputer GmbH (Muenster, Germany)

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Basis was a European distributor for Apple until the company decided to set up its own sales operation on the continent. Basis’s response was to build and sell what it believed to be a better Apple II. The company set up a U.S. subsidiary in California in1982. The company headquarters appear to have moved to Hong Kong by the time it produced the oddly named Medfly system. Basis also made the Basis 203 CP/M systems and the Xenix-based Basis 216. The Basis 216 was unusual in that one of its processors was the seldom-used Zilog Z8001.

The dual-processor Basis 108 was hardware and software compatible with the Apple II and could also run CP/M applications. The 108 looked more like a typical CP/M machine than the Apple II, with a separate keyboard and an optional monitor in a retro-looking swivel frame. At least 25,000 Basis 108s were produced.

At the system level, the Medfly seems identical to the 108. A redesigned keyboard and ivory-color enclosure replaced the 108’s beige components.

Basis 108

Basis 108

Basis 108 (Jan. 1982, Apple II-class desktop)
Original Retail Price: $2,150 to $4,245
Base Configuration: 1MHz 6502 and 2MHz Z80 CPUs; CP/M Plus; six Apple-compatible slots; 64K RAM (128K max), 2K ROM (12K max); keyboard/keypad; RS-232C and parallel ports; NTSC, RGB, and composite video ports; Perfect Software application suite; owner’s manual
Video: 24-line x 80-column text, 280 x 192 graphics, 6 colors
Important Options: 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 256K RAM disk board, 12-inch monochrome monitor, game paddles

Basis Medfly

Basis Medfly

Basis Medfly (Apple II-class desktop)
Base Configuration: 6502 and Z80 CPUs; CP/M 3.0; six Apple-compatible slots; 64K RAM (128K max); 2K ROM (12K max); RGB, composite, and NTSC video ports; keyboard/keypad; RS-232C and parallel ports
Video: 280 x 192 graphics
Important Options: external dual 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, 12-inch monochrome monitor, game paddles

Basis 208 (1982, desktop)
Base Configuration: Z80B CPU, CP/M, 10 proprietary slots

Basis 216 (1982, desktop)
Base Configuration: Z8001 and 68000 CPUs, Xenix, 10 proprietary slots

Company Profile: AVT Trading A.G. (Zug, Switzerland)

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

The AVT COMP-2 was sold in Canada through Interactive Consulting Group and in the U.S through Tano Corp.

AVT COMP-2 (Apple II-class desktop)
Base Configuration: 6502 CPU; seven Apple-compatible slots; 64K RAM (256K max); 16K ROM; composite, PAL, and NTSC video ports; keyboard; game port; Microsoft BASIC
Video: 280 x 183 graphics
Size/Weight: 14.8 x 19.4 x 6.2 inches
Important Options: cassette recorder, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 80-column card, game paddles

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