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Amiga 2000 and dead battery

When I was a kid (I was about 17 years) I used to save money for a whole year, with the only purpose to buy an Amiga 2000. I remember with a nostalgic smile on the inner conflict I faced when I gathered enough to buy an Amiga 500, much cheaper and suitable to my age and my budget. 🙂

My sacrifices were rewarded, since I got one of the most beautiful, expandable personal computers ever made until then. Over the years I have purchased an expansion card from GVP, containing a SCSI controller, an hard disk and two megabytes of additional RAM, both mounted on the card itself.
Just before I placed inside a small circuit board that replaced the Kickstart ROM, on which to mount two separate ROM and equipping two different versions of the Amiga Kickstart.
For non-Amigans, Kickstart was a set of routines and system libraries, that made the connection between the hardware and software. The operating environment, named Workbench, did nothing but call the routines in the Kickstart to present you the marvelous multitasking desktop that has made the Amiga. Continue Reading

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Sega SC-3000

After years of unbridled desire and extensive research on markets and online auctions, I finally filled a big gap in my collection (and in retro-collector affections of mines), getting myself a Sega SC-3000, although it shows with a different brand. Yeno was a French company that handled the distribution of the SC-3000 on its territory, a deal with Sega to sell computers under its own brand, reserving the name of the original manufacturer to the upper right corner of the case, labeled white “Manufactured by Sega”.

The Yeno SC-3000 is in all respects identical to the Sega design, with the exception of a very good quality RGB video output , thanks to an additional card installed inside the case, mounted in piggyback mode, and connected to different pins, with obscene flying cables, to the motherboard.
The R/F module originally present in almost all manufacturer's machines, is absent in all specimens distributed by Yeno on French soil, which show a sort of rubber cap in place of the R/F output. Continue Reading

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Epson HX-20

The personal computer has become wearable. There are very compact instruments, light, refined in both design and materials. Today we use smartphones, or tablet devices like iPad or the most varied, by shapes and sizes, running Android. If we are a bit more demanding we opt for a netbook or a “classic” notebook.
Today we take for granted that there are these little gems, but how this category of devices had its origin?
It was, needless to say, groundbreaking '80s. The very first device, which actually created this segment, was produced by Epson in 1983, and was called HX-20.

The Epson HX-20 was simply revolutionary. A light computer, equipped with a LCD display capable of displaying text on 4 rows and graphics on a matrix of 120×32 pixel.
On the right side was possible to install a microcassette unit, such as voice recorders so dear to journalists and students of the time, on which it was possible to store data and programs, while on the left side, it had a dot matrix microprinter, in all respects similar to those mounted on the office calculators or on cash registers, also modern ones. The Epson HX-20's printer was capable of printing up to 17 characters per second. 🙂 Continue Reading

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Mattel Electronics ECS

Before acquiring the Aquarius project from Eastern Radofin, Mattel Electronics tried to offer a cheap alternative to the original project, named Keyboard Component, proved too ambitious (and expensive) compared to competing products, aimed to the emerging market of home computing. So it was that a very interesting object came to life, named ECS: Entertainment Computer System.

ECS was a form of expansion of the famous Intellivision. It was connected to the console as if it were a (enormous) game cartridge. Once connected, it was perfectly joined to the main console case, looking as a natural extension of the original hardware.

The module, called Computer Adaptor, included 2KB of memory, expandable up to 16KB, a ROM built-in BASIC interpreter, a second chip dedicated to sound, able to add 3 audio channels, a port for connecting a datassette (standard type of recorders) or to connect a thermal printer, also used for home computer Aquarius.
The Computer Adaptor was also equipped with two front connectors, protected by a snap closure flap, able to connect or the computer keyboard or the musical (Music Synthesizer), or two additional game controllers, that, in the original plans, should have allowed 4 people to play simultaneously. Continue Reading

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Sega SG-1000 Mark II

All people of my age, when it comes to hear of SEGA or to see the distinctive blue logo, are led to remember the countless creations, both hardware and software, of this prolific Japanese manufacturer, exclusively devoted to video game market. Particularly, the arcade rooms were full of legendary video games produced by this very active organization.

Among the different creatures came from the SEGA factories, detaches the console I am going to talk about: the SG-1000, Mark II version, i.e. revision 2 of the machine originally sold in 1983, marketed the following year.

This object was not very popular in Europe, where people widely preferred the computer variant, namely that the SEGA SC-3000, in substance, was identical to the console, except for the addition of a membrane keyboard with rubber keys, such as those of the most famous and popular ZX Spectrum. In fact, the software ran identically on both Hardware incarnations. Continue Reading

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Mattel Electronics Aquarius

The history of home computing has experienced ups and downs, with explosive successes and equally sensational disasters.
Among the latter, proudly takes place one of the biggest flops that the history of computing knows: the Mattel Aquarius.

Initially designed and manufactured by Radofin (technology partner by Mattel – London-based – to which the U.S. giant commissioned the Intellivision production), was then purchased in bulk from the Mattel itself, that was embarrassingly late on gold rush, namely, home and personal computing.
In fact, in the early 80's, the Mattel Electronics computing division didn't exist yet. It was created out of nothing just to acquire and bring in the project started by Radofin just before the 1980.

is famous the phrase by which a programmer, internal Mattel, crushed the unfortunate computer even before it was marketed: He defined Aquarius as “the computer for the 70's”. 🙂 Continue Reading