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