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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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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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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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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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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 – Hong Kong 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, computing division of Mattel Electronics does not 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