ScuzzBlog: 22nd March 2008

Subject 01: Japan and Back - More console kit from my Japanese contact
Subject 02: Moore Texas Instruments - That's the 'Moore' 707
Subject 03: Quick and dirty upgrade - Sinclair 128
Subject 04: Dumb Terminal - Enter the Cifer
Subject 05: ROM cartridges - With strange red skirts
Subject 06: Asteroids - History of
Subject 07: 4096 of portable words - The Apricot Portable
Subject 08: And Finally - This week I have been mostly

Entry 0807: Blogs: 8

Japan and back

Entry 0807: Blog: 1

More console kit from my Japanese contact


Been to see my Japanese contact and acquired a few goodies. 
Better still we stood in the cold for an hour discussing how 
utterly boring the computer world has become. Microsoft are 
to blame.. and  sadly all the sheep that followed into the 
valley of the suits.... Thinks ' Desktop Dynamite '... Now 
that's what I call fun.... Happy days.

Anyway what I got...
Nintendo Famicom Disk System

[ quote ]

The Famicom Disk System was released in on February 21, 1986, 
by Nintendo Co., Ltd. and Mitsumi Electronics Co., Ltd. Though 
212 Disk System games were officially licensed by Nintendo over 
the years, some argue the Disk System isn't really its own console 
but instead a Famicom accessory. You have to plug the Disk System 
into the Famicom to get it to work.

The Disk System is two parts: the RAM and the disk drive.

The Disk System connects to the Famicom via the RAM adaptor. It 
can be powered with C batteries or a power adaptor. Disks 
(officially called "disk cards") were inserted in front, like 
the standard '80s floppy drive, and were removed using a yellow 
eject button.

Nintendo created the Disk System for various reasons, in part 
because Famicom gamers were begging for a way to save their 
progress in games. But Nintendo also wanted to increase the 
size of games. Cartridges had failed to provide the luxuries 
disks could provide. 

[ end quote ]

Sega 32X

[ quote ]

When the 32X was released in November 1994, the demand was 
so high that Sega couldn't fulfil all of the one million 
orders retailers had made for the system. By January 1995, 
Sega had shipped 600,000 units. 

The 32X plugged into the cartridge port of the Genesis console. 
Two 32-bit RISC processors powered the system. A VDP (video 
digital processor) chip noticeably improved the Genesis' 
polygonal graphics. It featured a palette of over 32,000 
colors as well as texture-mapping. Owners of the Sega CD 
system could plug into the 32X to play enhanced CD-ROM games.

[ end quote ]

NEC Turbografx Console

TurboGrafx-16 Specifications 
Central Processing Unit:
 Hu6280 [8 bit / 16 bit graphics processor] 
Clock Speed: 3.6 MHz 
Random Access Memory: 8k 
Maximum Available Colors: 512 
Simultaneous On-Screen Colors: 482 
Maximum Display Resolution: 320 x 256 
Audio Processing Unit: PCM [6 Channel Stereo] 

[ quote ]

NEC's TurboGrafx-16 suffered from a case of extreme bad timing 
and marketing. Released in 1989, just before the Sega Genesis, 
the Turbo was too little, to late. The Turbo had two things 
going against it. First, NEC was new to the gaming industry, 
going up against arcade veteran Sega, who was releasing their 
second home console. Second, the Turbo's hardware was inferior 
to that of the Genesis. Although NEC touted the Turbo as being 
a 16-bit system, the CPU was actually an 8-bit processor. The 
only 16-bit chip was the graphics processor, which actually was 
capable of displaying more on-screen colors than a Genesis. But 
as demonstrated with the SMS, it takes more than hardware to 
make or break a system. 

[ end quote ]

Other goodies acquired
Two other goodies I got from the guy were...

A Nintendo Super Famicom mint boxed [ This Famicom is in an all 
Japanese box ] and a Wonderswan mint boxed.

This guy imports near unused Japanese consoles
and the condition is just unbelievable. 

Good start to the week that.


Moore Texas Instruments

Entry 0807: Blog: 2

That's the 'Moore' 707


The Texas arrived today, and becomes even a bigger
mystery. I will have to photograph the back and let
you advise as to what these connectors are for. I can`t
accurately date this unit. Its in fantastic condition and
still has the original paper roll inside. The keyboard
is a dream and would put any laptop to shame. More
on this later.

Personal Terminal 707 Moore

I had previously thought this to be a the ' Silent ' model.
Turns out to be the Personal Terminal 707 named Moore.

[ quote ]

Thermal printer, direct connect modem. This terminal was made 
by Texas Instruments, marked on the underside as "Personal 
Terminal, 707, Moore". There are no physical switches as in earlier 
707 models, but instead the settings are made by configuration 
commands. I don't know yet, whether this is a 300 or 1200 baud 
unit, but it appears to work. It comes with its own briefcase.

[ end quote ]

Not considered the concept of Terminals before. Opens the 
door on a whole new world of retro by the looks of it.


Sinclair 128

Entry 0807: Blog: 3

Quick and dirty upgrade


I can mention this now... Retro Gamer did a wonderful
spread this month on the humble Sinclair 128 the one
with the ' heatsink ' on the side.

' The market wanted more memory and better sound
in order to help produce more engaging games and
that was done in the most mechanical way possible '

Rupert Goodwins Sinclair Research

' The ZX80, Zx81 and ZX Spectrum followed in quick
succession but Sinclair bumbled and stumbled when
it came to extending the ZX line, eventually releasing
the Spectrum 128 in 1985 amid fears that the company
was facing financial ruin '

Spectrum 128

The Sinclair Spectrum 128 at the Computer Museum

At the launch of the Spectrum 128 Sinclair was struggling
because of the failure of the QL. Clive Sinclair always
viewed the games computer as ' beneath the dignity
of the company '. Interestingly it was the success of the
Spectrum in Spain that convinced Sinclair and investors
to create a new games based machine..... ' Take a 
standard sound chip, gate in some more RAM., futz around
with the system software and get it out as soon as possible.
The result of all this was the Spectrum 128...' Whilst the 128
was a quick and dirty upgrade it did resolve many of the 
Spectrum's shortcomings '. ... One of the most noticeable
differences was the replacement of the beeper with the
three-channel AY-3-8912 chip. In addition to the 128K
memory also came 128 BASIC and the dumping of the 
one touch key entry system. The issue of old software
was to include the old 48K ROM on the machine so 
you could switch between 128 and 48. One cool aspect 
of the 128 is the whacking great heat sink down the
one side of the machine. Because the 128 had more
components that generated heat the unit got very hot.
Interestingly the main source of heat was the voltage
regulator. The sink was simply bolted to the side of
the unit. There are great early production sketches
of the sink by Rick Dickinson in Retro Gamer.

I kinda kept quiet about this wonderful feature as I 
successfully tracked and won a number of the machines
this last week. I have a boxed version here in its bold
red box. As is traditional here I wont open the box till
I photograph it... but as I wanted to play I got hold of
a few units. I have learned my lesson with Speccy
stuff... you get a one in three chance of them working.
All cost around a tenner each so not a big investment.
I guess having read this article I realised the significance
of this machine. Classic really.

[ that link again ]


Dumb Terminal

Entry 0807: Blog: 4

Enter the Cifer


Probably the largest ever parcel to arrive here turned
up today, and to my surprise inside was the very
large Cifer computer. Somewhat surprised to be
honest as I thought it was the MegaPC and monitor.
I had thought that this beast was say as big as the
Osbourne, but no quite a touch bigger... There is 
hardly anything about this computer on the internet
other than an entry about its sister computer without
the 5.25" drive... See

Cifer 2683

This is the smaller version of the one I have

Click to access the Old Computer Museum

[ quote ]

The Cifer 2683 was the stand-alone version of a large 
range of dumb terminals released in the UK by the Cifer 
Systems Limited Company. 

The 2683 was actually a Z80 based 2632 terminal to which 
a second Z80 card has been added, providing 64 KB of user 
RAM and a floppy-disk controller. The machine was used as 
a Z80 software development or general purpose CP/M system. 
A ROM/EPROM card allowed to develop and run custom programs. 

A 300 x 1024 pixel graphics board was also available, including 
a third Z80A CPU and providing Tektronix 4010 compatibility. 

A 2684 was also released, with same features as the 2683 
but including a built-in 5.25" floppy-disk drives instead of an 
external unit. 

[ mine is obviously the 2864 ]

NAME   2683 
MANUFACTURER   Cifer Systems 
TYPE   Professional Computer 
ORIGIN   United Kingdom 
YEAR   1982 
KEYBOARD   100 key Typewriter type with 20 function 
key and numeric keypad 
CPU   2 x Z80A 
SPEED   2.5 MHz 
RAM   64 to 256 KB 
VRAM   16 to 32 KB 
ROM   Depends on system configuration, up to 24 KB 
TEXT MODES   80 characters x 25 lines - 8x12 dot char. format 
GRAPHIC MODES   300 x 1024 (optional) 
COLORS   Monochrome. White green or orange phosphor 
SOUND   No sound 
SIZE / WEIGHT   41 (W) x 35 (D) x 34 (H) 
I/O PORTS   Parallel printer (2), serial lines (2), FDD unit, 
Composite video 
BUILT IN MEDIA   Dual DS DD 48 TPI floppy-disk unit 
OS   CP/M 2.2 
POWER SUPPLY   Built-in power supply unit 
PRICE   Unknown 

[ Thanks to Old Computers Com Museum ]

Comments from seller....

My memory isn't that good, it was last powered up 11 years 
ago, I can't even remember if the screen is orange, green or 
white / black. It didn't come with notes. I wasn't planning on 
cleaning it, if I had the time to clean it and get it going again 
it would have sold for more, I'm surprised it sold for as much 
as it did considering its condition. 

I'm just clearing a storeroom, the dust is mainly plaster , as 
the building had some major work done on it. The keyboard 
metal plate is bent because the keyboard had several cardboard 
boxes stacked on top. finding the missing piece is doubtful, I 
would have expected it to be next to the computer which it wasn't, 
hence it must have been moved around. either something fell on 
it or someone dropped it. 

Thinking it might power up after all this time was a bit optimistic, 
I should have used a dummy load in series and raised the voltage 
slowly, however I don't have any affectionate connection with this 
red box, so I thought just plug it in. It popped the fuses a couple 
of times, and took the cover off to see the psu. I cut an earth wire 
which needs re connecting, other than that the power supply isn't 
a complex one , with more TL care you are in with a chance.

In fact thinking about it, it would probably be a good idea to unpower 
the internal monitor, connect external monitor to the video socket 
on rear and then try powering up. after you have verified what's 
coming out of the power supply.

Cifer Club      

It has 11 years of dust on it, and the faded stickers say working 
1997, I remember it working 11 years ago, I put the stickers on, 
11 years ago when I powered it up, it hadn't been used for a 
long time, it ran something like CP/M or Unix, I think it dates 
to around 1980. It is made in UK. it has a very large hard drive 
inside, this is only physically large its actual capacity is most 
likely 10MB. It used to boot from the hard drive, 

Interesting... Needs a good clean up before I photograph this.


ROM cartridges

Entry 0807: Blog: 5

For the Sinclair Spectrum


Three Sinclair ROM cartridges arrived today.  These are
quite rare.. Jet Pac, Hungry Horace and Cookie..

[ quote ]

John Gilbert wrote in Sinclair User in 1984, 

' The ROM cartridge market was very immature and 
unestablished and making an order of this quantity a 
risky business, even for a company as established as 
Melbourne House or Psion. Unsurprisingly, none of the 
ten original releases sold well in the cartridge format and 
despite much talk of further software, it never materialised. 
Within a year of its release, the Interface Two, along with the 
cartridges, had been consigned to the dustbin of computing 
history. '

Typical Sinclair ROM Cartridges

[ end quote ]

Other ROM cartridges in the series were

- Planetoids (Sinclair Research Ltd)
- Space Raiders (Sinclair Research Ltd)
- Backgammon (Sinclair Research Ltd)
- Pssst (Ultimate Play The Game)
- Cookie (Ultimate Play The Game)
- Jetpac (Ultimate Play The Game)
- Tranz Am (Ultimate Play The Game)
- Hungry Horace (Sinclair Research Ltd)
- Horace and the Spiders (Sinclair Research Ltd)
- Chess (Sinclair Research Ltd)

Click to access the Sinclair Lair

Quite sexy all the same.



Entry 0807: Blog: 6

History of..


I guess no computer retro enthusiast would be without
a few classic games. Asteroids fits that bracket very
well, particularly when coupled with an Atari console,
or better still an arcade games machine. Dunno just
how much money I spent on playing this in pubs and
clubs when I was younger, but suffice to say it was
pretty addictive in its day. Given that I have bought a
few 2600s [ boxed one arrived today ] I thought I
would treat myself to a few of the classics.

[ quote ]

The Creation of Asteroids

Asteroids was inspired by Lyle Rains, who suggested to Ed Logg 
that players might enjoy shooting big rocks into smaller pieces. 
"I guess the way I describe it is that I'm the father of Asteroids," 
Rains said. "Ed Logg is the mother of Asteroids, because he 
had to live with it for nine months and deliver finished product. 
All I had to do was to provide a seed."

Asteroids sits right up there with Pac-Man and Space Invaders 
as a classic. From the hypnotic bass to the swarming asteroid 
field this game had every intention of success. The production 
run for this game exceeded 70,000!! units. Asteroids was so 
popular that the production line for Lunar Lander was switched 
over to producing Asteroids games, this is why some Asteroids 
are in Lunar Lander cabinets (about 200 were done this way!).
Your mission is basically to reduce the floating asteroids down 
to rubble and finally dust. Each asteroid when shot breaks into 
two smaller ones. As you create your destruction you must avoid 
enemy flying saucers that will try and shoot you down. The saucers 
come in two flavours, large and small. The large ones of course 
easier to hit and are much less accurate with their lasers, while 
the smaller saucers are quick and accurate(they also score 1000 
points, motivation for saucer hunting). When you clear the level, 
alas... more asteroids appear, and in greater numbers. 


Click to access and their Asteroid section
Click to access for their Asteroid section

Below you can watch Asteroids on YouTube



As I said earlier I had a boxed 2600 arrive today
the large rainbow junior... and with it came 5 
cartridges...Crystal Castles, Pheonix, Centipede,
Mario Bros and Space Invaders.

Great fun



Entry 0807: Blog: 7

4096 of portable words

The Apricot Portable arrived and as ever I struggled to
see how anyone would lug this around. Not only quite 
heavy but a very off shaped brief case, which I have
banged my knee on several times during the week.. 
Came with the software disk which was a plus.. though
deficient of the mouse trackball and any manuals. 
A good find all the same....

Apricot Portable

An article published in Personal Computer World in November 
1984 explained how the voice recognition system works : 

"The voice system on the Portable allows you to have a 
vocabulary file of up to 4096 words. However, only 64 words 
can be held in RAM at any one time, so a fair amount of 
shuffling is necessary with large vocabularies. Before the 
system can understand your commands, it is necessary to 
create a vocabulary file and train the system to understand 
your voice. The Portable is supplied with a program which 
allows this to be done. The first thing to do is to create 
a vocabulary disk file. You can have as many of these as you 
like. The training program prompts for a name and then opens 
a diskfile under that name with a .VOC extension. Next you enter 
the words you want to use, along with an optional command 
which you want the machine to respond to. Once you have 
entered all the words, you can go into training mode. To do 
this you speak the words into the microphone and the program 
records the voice patterns. The more times you repeat each 
word the better the result. After you have trained all the 
words you can go on to see how well the machine understands you." 

The keyboard had no leads - it communicates with the main 
unit through infrared signals. But if you put an object in 
between the keyboard and the main unit, communication stops ! 
It was the same membrane keyboard as used with the Apricot F1. 

There was also an optional and quite innovative trackball 
available, but a classic Microsoft mouse could also be used 
through the serial port. The Apricot Portable shipped with 
the 'Activity' front-end to the operating system, an enhanced 
version of the one delivered with the Apricot F1. It was quite 
"Mac" influenced with icon-based navigation and even a built-in 
icon editor ! 

The Apricot Portable was supplied with a great deal of bundled 
software : SuperWriter, SuperCalc, SuperPlanner, ACT Diary, ACT 
Sketch and an interactive tutorial. 

The built-in disk-drive located at the right-hand side of 
the main unit was a Sony 3.5'' disk-drive, single-sided, 
720k. ACT also supplied a little external 10 MB Rodime 3.5'' 
hard disk called an MSD (Mass Storage Device). 

The large LCD was the first full 25-line liquid crystal 
screen to be mounted on a portable computer. It was made in 
Japan by Hitachi, but ACT wasn't happy with the controller, 
so it designed its own (very fast) display controller chip. 
It's possible to adjust the contrast by holding down the CTRL 
and UP-ARROW or DOWN-ARROW keys together, but the angle of 
the display is fixed and cannot be tilted. 

But the Apricot Portable can also be connected to an external 
monitor and with the colour option, can display 640 x 256 
pixels in eight colours from a palette of 16. In addition it 
is also possible to display data on both displays at the 
same time. For example, when using Supercalc 3 you could 
display the spreadsheet model on the LCD at the same time as 
displaying graphs or pie charts on the monitor ! The Apricot 
Portable could only be powered by mains power, there was no 
battery option available at all. Quite strange for a 
"portable" computer... The Apricot Portable did not meet 
with great success and was considered rather as a gadget, 
given its LCD screen and voice recognition features, but 
lacking real compatibility with other Apricot computers, 
in addition to its limited portability. 

The price was cut down in 1985, and a new version with 
512k RAM was sold. The 256k model was then called FP-256, and 
the 512k model FP-512. 

And Finally

Entry 0807: Blog: 8

This week I have mostly

Started slow this week and then ended with 
downpour... Much like the weather.

New Arrivals this week:


I must be the curse of postie at the moment... Another
wheelbarrow load of kit arrived today. I'll simply list it
for now and discuss it more fully in the blog over the

From big to small...

Apricot Portable in special case
Amstrad MegaPC with monitor
Atari 2600 console ' small rainbow ' style
Matsui Computer Compatible Cassette Recorder
STOS another boxed version dated 12 02 1990
Welltris boxed by InfoGrames
MaxiPlan4 software and manual - Amiga
23 copies of Popular Computing Weekly 1983
Space Invaders for the Atari 2600
Witchblade 113, 114, 115
PC CD-ROM Atari Arcade Hits
PS2 Games: Prince of Persia, TimeSplitters
Driver 3, Death by Degrees, Drakengard,
Hitman 2, Monkey Island, Pro evolution Soccer 5

And that's just one day... Won't list the rest here
now that will appear on the session log. I guess the 
next week or so will see an end to the current session. 
I have now hit my target of eight additions unique to 
the collection

Mitsubishi Apricot
Sharp MZ-80K
Famicom Disk System
Sega 32X
NEC TurboGrafx
Atari 2600 'large rainbow'
Commodore Notebook

And that's without:

Amstrad MegaPC
Boxed A570
Boxed A500Plus
A500 Pres Box
Boxed A590 
Sony HitBit
Zenith Systems Notebook
Sinclair 128 boxed and various others
Atari 2600 boxed and another 2600

Someone at work today wondered if I had ever thought of 
selling any of the kit ... I said no obviously. She then 
asked what life was like in a house full of computer kit... 
I smiled. For me, as a reclusive retro nutter...heaven.
But then I don`t have any of the pressures of family and 
friends... Just computers and the cats.

Mad :-) And loving it. 

[ update ]

Sad Departures

Sad note: No doubt many of us have those close to
our hearts. For me I only have cats. Up to today I 
had brothers Timmay and Tidduls. Sadly whilst writing
this blog I was notified by the vet that Tidduls had
died. Death affects us all whether friend, family or a pet
Suffice to say, I am more than a touch down ...

I shall never forget him. 


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Last updated 22nd March 2008
The day that Tidduls died.. May he rest in peace

Chandraise Kingdom

Keep the Faith