If you talk about the beginnings of the microcomputer era from the end of the 1970s on the British Isles, then one name cannot be missing: Acorn. And yet this name means nothing to many people today, especially younger people, even though they surely hold technology in their hands x times every day whose origins go back to this computer manufacturer.
Acorn was often referred to as the “British Apple Inc.” because the company stood for many technical innovations and good product design. The products were also often more technically advanced than the commercially more successful competition from the USA.
But to understand why my Acorn Risc PC600 is a special piece of computer history, we need to know the circumstances of how it came to be. Listing the technical specifications alone doesn’t do the computer justice. So let me take you on an exciting journey of an exciting computer.
Franconian (so called people from a German region in upper Bavaria) are rather reserved and quiet people. They prefer the cozy social gathering over a glass of beer or wine and the greatest praise of a Franconian is: “Bassd scho!”
Today I would like to present you a PC from 1984 of a former computer manufacturer from Franconia – more precisely from Nuremberg, the metropolis of Middle Franconia. It is the TA alphatronic PC from the company Triumph-Adler, a Z80 based 8-bit computer with 64 kB RAM, 32 kB ROM and integrated Microsoft Basic.
You can definitely compare the computer with the features of the Franconian: The PC has a simple, straight-lined case shape and it comes across rather inconspicuous and reserved. On the other hand, it impresses with its workmanship and inner values. A Franconian would say: “Bassd scho!”.
The Tandy Color Computer is indisputably a gaming machine. There are also large software archives for it on the Internet. But many games need a joystick. Unfortunately the CoCo has a different joystick connector than the Ataris and Commodores and therefore CoCo joysticks are hard to get today. I was also looking for a way to use my joysticks from the C64 or ATARI for the Tandy Color Computer. I found a build instruction for a simple adapter board on this page: https://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-tandy-1000-digital-joystick-adapter.html
You can buy ready-made adapters on eBay, but since the construction of the circuit didn’t look very complicated and the parts were available for a few Euros, I decided to build one myself.
The Commodore VC-1520 is a compact roller plotter with small ballpoint pens in four colors (black, blue, green, red) and a speed of 12 characters per second on average, with a maximum of 80 characters per line. The character count in CBM-ASCII mode is 96 characters and in plotter mode a maximum of 260 steps per second. The plotter prints on roll paper (cash register roll) with 114 mm width (96 mm printable), which is fixed on a spindle outside the plotter. The plotter mechanism comes from the company Alps Electric and was also used in other devices, such as the Sharp MZ-731 or Olivetti M10.
Sometimes it can be worthwhile to help with a move! As an active member it was clear for me to help when the office manager of the BN district group Bamberg asked me. After all, the move only took place within Bamberg. Out of a quaint old town apartment in Sandstraße, home to many pubs, bars and the famous smoked beer brewery “Schlenkerla” in the middle of the beautiful world cultural heritage.