Sphere Corp. (Bountiful, Utah)

Perhaps the most interesting aspect about this company’s first computer, the Sphere 1, is how it marketed the system. Although the earliest ads targeted hobbyists, later advertising reached out to a more general consumer audience. It promoted using the Sphere 1 for the home and business to perform tasks such as balancing a checkbook or writing a resume. This effort pre-dated by nearly two years the first mass-marketing of microcomputers by Commodore, Tandy, and Apple. Apparently, the company believed that home and business users had deeper pockets, as it raised prices by more than $200 for each model.

A bit more expensive than the Altairs, Scelbis, and other competitors, the Sphere 1 did not sell in great numbers. They are rare and prized finds today.

The Sphere 1 was one of the first “modern” looking microcomputers. Hook it up to a TV and you have a system similar in its physical configuration to, say, a Commodore 64. Gone are the switches and LEDs that other systems of the era used for input and readout. Sphere offered a full line of peripherals including a floppy disk drive with a disk operating system–a luxury in 1975. In late 1975, the Sphere 2, 3, and 4 were introduced. All were based on the Sphere 1 and were packaged with different features. The Sphere 2 had a serial communications and a cassette or modem interface. The Sphere 3 added 20K of memory to the Sphere 2 configuration. The Sphere 4 replaced the cassette interface of the Sphere 3 with a dual IBM-compatible floppy disk drives. It also provided a disk operating system, BASIC, and a line printer. A One Card Computer was simply the main Sphere I CPU board packaged for the hobbyist.

Sphere 1/Sphere 2/Sphere 3/Sphere 4 (1975, early micro)
Original Retail Price: $650 kit or $1,345 assembled (Sphere 1)/$1,499 (Sphere 1)/$2,250 (Sphere 3)/$7,995 (Sphere 4)
Base Configuration: 6800 CPU, 4K RAM (64K max), 1K PROM, TV video port, integral keyboard, cassette and modem ports, BASIC, Program Development System, monitor in ROM, operations and programming manuals
Video: 512-character display
Important Options: disk operating system, floppy disk drive, paper tape reader, serial port, line printer

Sphere Micro-Sphere 200 (1976, early micro)
Original Retail Price: $860 to $1,645 assembled
Base Configuration: 6800 CPU, Sphere Cassette Operating System (SCOS), 4K RAM (8K max), cassette interface, integral keyboard, Advanced Program Development System, Monte Carlo game, operati on manual
Video: 16-line x 21-column text
Important Options: 9-inch monochrome TV display, mouse

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