Although no longer a force as a computer manufacturer, Canon was a significant player in the early and mid-1980s in both Asia and North America. One of the earliest systems sold overseas was the CX-1 desktop with an all-in-one design. It did not sell well, perhaps because it used the proprietary MCX operating system.
The BX-3, introduced at about the same time, also used MCX. It had an all-in-one design as well, but with small LED display and built-in printer. A controller card for an external monitor was available as an option.
Reader Rich adds this on the CX-1 and BX series:
Faring better was the AS-100. Glance quickly at it and you might mistake the AS-100 for a microwave oven. Canon later upgraded the base memory for the AS-100 to 128K and bundled a suite of popular application software. Although the AS-100 ran MS-DOS, its PC compatibility was limited. Canon’s AS-200 was more of a true PC Compatible. Canon introduced the A-200EX, a PC AT-compatible, in late 1986. Its value is similar to original AS-200. An AC-power-only A-200TP portable had an odd design where the LCD screen folded back on the top of the unit.
The TX-50 appeared between the introductions of the AS-100 and AS-200. It had an all-in-one design–unusual for a PC compatible–reminiscent of the Hewlett-Packard HP 85 and HP 86. Its 3-inch floppy limits what PC software can be used with the system. A TX-25 model was also available. Advertised as a “portable desktop,” the TX-25 was part calculator and part microcomputer. Its display was a 20-character LED, but it had a typewriter-style keyboard, a proprietary 4-inch disk cartridge, and telecommunications capability.
Canon produced a number of MSX systems, which apparently were not sold in North America. They range from the tiny V-8 introduced around 1983 to the V-25 MSX-2 computer. In between were the V-10/V-20, which came with either black or white cases.
The system that Canon is best known for among collectors is the Cat. Jef Raskin designed the Canon Cat, and that’s significant because he also led the original development team for the Apple Macintosh. He left before the Mac was completed to found his own company, Information Appliance, where he built a prototype of what was to be the Cat. Canon liked it and built the Cat under license. Unlike the Mac, the Cat is text-based and lacks a mouse. However, its approach to data storage and retrieval was innovative. The data appears in one long stream of text with page breaks between individual documents. A Leap function lets you search for particular items. This scheme wasn’t for everyone, but the Cat had a dedicated group of devotees. Canon built an estimated 20,000 Cats.
The company’s X-07 notebook was similar in configuration but smaller than the Tandy Model 100. It was expandable through credit-card-size plug-in cards.
Reader Rich adds this
Canon CX-1 (1981, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $4,995
Base Configuration: 6809 CPU, MCX, 32K RAM (128K max), two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 12-inch monochrome CRT and keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, CX-1 BASIC
Video: 24-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 20.9 x 25.2 x 13 inches, 55 lbs.
Important Options: external dual 8-inch floppy disk drives, dot-matrix or thermal printer
Canon BX-3 (1981, desktop)
Base Configuration: 6809 CPU; MCX; 32K RAM (96K max); two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives; integral 28-character LED display and keyboard/keypad; RS-232C, parallel, and GP-IB ports; BX-3 BASIC; integral printer
Size/Weight: 20.9 x 25.2 x 9 inches, 55 lbs.
Important Options: external dual 5.25- or 8-inch floppy disk drives, CRT control board
Canon AS-100 (1982, desktop PC)
Base Configuration: 4MHz 8088 CPU, MS-DOS or CP/M-86, 64K RAM (512K max), integral 12-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, RS-232 and parallel ports, Canon BASIC, GW-BASIC, utilities disk
Video: 640 x 400 graphics
Size/Weight: 15.75 x 13.5 x 16.87 inches, 43 lbs.
Important Options: dual 8- or 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, 8MB hard disk drive, integral 12-inch color CRT, A-1201 or A-1200 printer
Canon A-200 Series (1985, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,195 to $2,695
Base Configuration: 7.16MHz 8086 CPU, MS-DOS 2.11, five ISA slots, 256K RAM (640K max), 16K ROM, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, monochrome monitor, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, GW-BASIC
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 17.37 x 15.62 x 5.5 inches, 25 lbs.
Important Options: 10- or 20MB hard disk drive, color monitor
Canon A-200TP (1985, transportable PC)
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 80C88 CPU, MS-DOS 2.0, external expansion slot, 256K RAM (640K max), 8K ROM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, composite video port, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, GW-BASIC, modem
Video: 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 17.75 x 5.37 x 15.5 inches, 19.8 lbs.
Important Options: expansion box, 10MB hard disk drive, carrying case
Canon TX-50 (1984, desktop PC)
Base Configuration: MS-DOS, 128K RAM (256K max), 3-inch floppy disk drive, integral 7-inch monochrome CRT, integral keyboard/keypad, integral printer
Important Options: RS-232C and parallel interfaces
Canon V-8 (MSX home computer)
Base Configuration: Z80A CPU, 16K RAM, integral keyboard, Microsoft Extended BASIC, three-voice sound
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 256 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Canon V-10/V-20 (1984, MSX home computer)
Original Retail Price: $225 (V-10)/$270 (V-20)
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, two ROM cartridge slots, 16K RAM (V-10)/64K RAM (V-20), composite video port, integral keyboard, parallel port, eight-octave sound
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 256 x 192 graphics
Canon Cat (1987, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $1,495
Base Configuration: 5MHz 68000 CPU, 256K RAM, 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, integral keyboard, RS-232C and parallel ports, word processor in ROM, FORTH, internal modem
Size/Weight: 10.75 x 13.2 x 17.75 inches, 17 lbs.
Important Options: printer
Canon X-07 (1983, notebook)
Base Configuration: NSC-800 CPU; expansion and cartridge slots; 8K RAM; 20K ROM; monochrome LCD; integral Chiclet-style keyboard; serial, parallel, and cassette ports
Video: 4-line x 20-column text, 120 x 32 graphics
Size/Weight: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1 inches, 2 lbs.