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Sharp MZ-700

Found originally on ebay at a little’ too high price tag but – after contacting the seller when auction expired – I could get an agreement on a more reasonable price (although not negligible, however) aligned to technical and sentimental quality and the overall conservation status of the object, adding this wonderful Sharp MZ-700 to my collection.
Sure, it is risky to treat a purchase outside of the protections of ebay and Paypal, with a complete stranger who could grab the loot and disappear in the depths of the Net, but the experience and intuition in these cases, help a lot. However, I must say that, in the context of the retrocomputing fans , there is a sense of belonging and fairness that everybody shares’ , usually. At least I have not had any unpleasant surprises so far. 🙂
Returning to the subject of this entry, we speak about an original personal computer, produced by the creative and unconventional Sharp, who never hesitated to propose technical and aesthetic solutions in total autonomy, earning the esteem and respect of professional and home computing enthusiasts, and contributing to the evolution of personal computing. Continue Reading

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Casio PB-770

In the first half of the glorious 80s, some manufacturers, mainly the Japanese Casio and Sharp, battled for dominance of one of the most creative segment of personal computing: the pocket computers one, made of hybrid machines, halfway between a scientific calculator and a laptop.

Casio-PB-770

Casio PB-770

Recently, I used to peek on ebay ads, and I came across a specimen declared as not working of the Casio PB-770, with its original leatherette case , bought at just 14 euro. If it were not for shipping fees…

The Jewel seemed to have a memory problem because, although having no program stored in its 10 slots, it returned an error code related to a memory shortage.
I feared the worst, since the ram chips installed in these vintage machines are no longer easily available. As a first step, I opened with much patience the case of the Casio PB -770 and I did a quick inspection. Continue Reading

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An evening with the SG-1000

Had long wanted to verify the operation of some cartridges ordered in Japan, a month ago, for my beautiful SEGA SG-1000 Mark II, and finally I was able to arrange.
The precarious situation of my bolognese camp didn't assisted me. In fact, here I haven't a decent TV to connect devices like this, very special and exotic, and I resorted to an old portable LCD TV that I had from my house, in deep southern Italy…
In addition to the small TV I proceeded to pack a AC/AC converter, that allows to plug devices operating at 110V on Italian's mains, within a certain power limit.
The tolerance of this transformer widely covers requests for ballasts designed for computers, consoles and small appliances in general.

The mini TV that I brought with me, can display different TV standards, including PAL, NTSC and SECAM. After entering the first cartridge into the console, I proceeded to switch power on and I started the automatic channel search. After three rounds for the various bands covered by the tuner (actually took only the UHF) and about 5 minutes of spasmodic wait… nothingness! Continue Reading

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BBC/Acorn Archimedes A3000

After the strong users' feedback about the very successful first series machines, Acorn decided to produce a version of its Archimedes that was closer to home and semi-professional users pockets, adopting a more usual and compact form factor than previous models, supplied in the typical three-piece configuration, i.e. the models belonging to the series 300, 400 and 500 that, in my humble opinion, were beautiful.
Also inspired by the success of the Amiga and Atari ST, Acorn decided to adopt the familiar solution of the PC-keyboard shape, and thus the model A3000 was born, and recently joined my collection. 🙂

The attempt (successful) to contain the costs for the end user, found application in reducing the maximum amount of memory available to the system, in the absence of an hard disk controller, in the limited expansion capabilities, even in the absence of a serial port, that was provided as disabled, because the management was delegated to special chip to be installed in the appropriate sockets on the motherboard, that had to be purchased as an additional option. Continue Reading

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Sord M5

During the golden age of home computing, namely, the first half of the '80s, I've never read anything about a Japanese manufacturer called Sord, nor was I aware of the great machines, mainly aimed at the professional market, It has produced so far. I did not even know they made an attempt to expand their consumer segment, already almost exclusive domain of Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
This attempt to expand their market was realized through an object of exquisite shape, both aesthetic and engineering sides, with technical contents that there were shortly to become the MSX standard: the M5 model.

Just because of the contents, rather sophisticated for its time, the producer was unable to keep down the price tag of its M5, decreeing a de facto commercial exclusion that was never overcome. In fact, the spread of this computer is mainly due to the initiative of a few enterprising distributors, who imported directly from Japan.
In some cases, the distributor was granted permission to market the M5 model with its own brand; is the case of the CGL (Computer Games Limited), who covered the M5 diffusion in the UK.
However, the maximum diffusion of Sord M5, although very marginal for the time, occurred in Japan and Czechoslovakia. Continue Reading

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Lifting and Amiga 2000

I recently picked up my First Love, namely the Amiga 2000 purchased in 1990, that kept me in love until the inevitable and painful transition to a Windows system.
I found the pleasure of moving in the Workbench, rediscovered the little chores of graphics made with Deluxe Paint IV, Protracker songs, Imagine 3D graphics made with 2.0 version and programming experiments with C and AMOS basic, placed with logical rigor (oh, the modesty) , organized in folders with a criteria that I still have today. 🙂

As long time ago, while using multiple programs simultaneously, I felt the need for greater amounts of RAM and, why not, a bigger hard disk too.
When the Amiga was ahead of the curve, the cost of memory and disks were basically prohibitive, and I have always dismissed the idea with some’ of regret. Today you can find some of those materials costs laughable, and I said it was time to give a nice facelift to my First Love! 😀 Continue Reading