Epson America Inc. (Torrance, Calif.)

In the early 1980s, Epson tried to leverage its success in the printer business with a line of business microcomputers. Unfortunately, it made the mistake of creating a new operating system for the computers just as MS-DOS was becoming established.

Valdocs (Valuable Documents)–used only on the QX-10 and QX-16–was part operating system, part application suite. Epson’s goal was to create an easy-to-use business computer with the menu structure of Valdocs and special keyboard commands for common functions. Valdocs, which was similar to CP/M, won over many users, but not enough. Also, the Z80A did not deliver the processing power the Valdocs demanded.

The QX-16 added a 16-bit 8088 processor to go with the Z80A used in the QX-10 and bundled three operating systems with the computer.

Epson wisely followed the QX-16 with a line of PC-compatible desktop systems called the Equity I. In March 1987, Epson introduced an enhanced version of the Equity I, the Equity I+, which used a faster (10MHz) version of the 8088 CPU and provided five expansion slots. An Equity II+ followed in 1988 with a 12MHz 80286 CPU. Equity systems sold reasonably well and are relatively common finds today.

The company also had some success with portable computers, starting with the HX-20 notebook in 1982. The HX-20 played a key role in an infamous prank during the 1984 Rose Bowl game. Two CalTech students used an HX-20 and an RF modem to take control of the electronic scoreboard and write their own messages during the game. They also changed the team names for the final score from UCLA and Illinois to CalTech and MIT. An HX-40 followed that was faster, more expandable, and larger, but it was sold only to value-added resellers–middlemen who would configure and develop specialized applications for the system for resale to businesses.

The Geneva PX-8 took advantage of the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100’s success with a somewhat improved design, including more memory. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Epson sold a series of PC-compatible laptops and notebooks that as of yet have little or no collector value.

Epson QX-10 (1983, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $2,995
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A; Valdocs; five slots; 256K RAM (512K max); two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives; 12-inch monochrome monitor; keyboard/keypad; RS-232C, parallel, and light-pen ports; word processor and e-mail software
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 400 graphics
Size/Weight: 20.3 x 13.6 x 4.1 inches, 20.6 lbs.
Important Options: MS-DOS

Epson QX-16 (1984, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $3,000
Base Configuration: 8088 and Z80A CPUs, Valdocs 2, CP/M, and MS-DOS; 256K RAM (512K max); two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, RS-232C and parallel ports
Video: 640 x 400 graphics
Important Options: hard disk drive

Epson Equity I (1986, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,295
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 80C88 CPU, MS-DOS 2.11, three ISA slots, 256K RAM (640K max), 16K ROM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports
Video: CGA Size/Weight: 14.5 x 15 x 5.75 inches, 24.3 lbs.
Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 20MB hard disk drive, 12-inch monochrome or 13-inch color monitor, mouse

Epson Equity II (desktop PC)
Base Configuration: 7.16MHz V-30 CPU, MS-DOS 3.1, five ISA slots, 640K RAM, 16K ROM (64K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports
Video: CGA
Size/Weight: 14.5 x 15 x 5.75 inches, 25 lbs.
Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 20MB hard disk drive, 12-inch monochrome or 13-inch color monitor, mouse

Epson Equity LT (Sept. 1987, laptop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,899 to $2,999
Base Configuration: 10MHz V-30 CPU, MS-DOS 3.2, two proprietary expansion slots, 640K RAM, 16K ROM, 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, RGB video port, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard, RS-232C and parallel ports, LapLink, NiCad battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 12.2 x 13.6 x 3.2 inces, 12 lbs.
Important Options: second 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, 20MB hard disk drive, external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 13-inch color monitor, internal modem, carrying case

Epson HX-20 (1982, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $795
Base Configuration: 6301 CPU, proprietary expansion slot, 16K RAM (32K max), 32K ROM (64K max), integral microcassette drive, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard, RS-232C and serial ports, SkiWriter word processor in ROM, integral printer, tutorial and reference manuals, NiCad battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 4-line x 20-column text
Size/Weight: 11.38 x 8.5 x 1.75 inches, 3.75 lbs.
Important Options: expansion unit, CX-20 acoustic coupler

Epson HX-40 (1984, notebook)
Base Configuration: 3.68MHz Z80 CPU; CP/M 2.2; 64K RAM (128K max), 96K ROM; monochrome LCD; integral keyboard; RS-232C, serial, parallel, and bar-code ports; NiCad battery pack; AC adapter
Video: 8-line x 40-column text
Size/Weight: 8.37 x 11.62 x 1.37 inches, 3.5 lbs.
Important Options: microcassette drive, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, modem, printer, bar-code reader

Epson Geneva PX-8 (1984, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $995
Base Configuration: 2.45MHz Z80 CPU, CP/M 2.2, 64K RAM (184K max), 32K ROM, integral microcassette drive, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, application suite in ROM, NiCad battery, AC adapter Video: 8-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 8.5 x 11.5 x 1.75 inches, 4 lbs.
Important Options: 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, modem, thermal printer

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