Author Topic: NEC PC8801A  (Read 1193 times)

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Offline rrinker

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NEC PC8801A
« on: October 20, 2017, 02:38:01 pm »
 Since this forum is world-wide, there may be more knowledge of this system here than elsewhere. They weren't huge sellers in the US, but my best friend's Dad was one of the buyers. I remember when he got this, and my friend showing it off to me. Recently he was cleaning out his parent's house and gave me the whole system, complete with the matching NEC dot matrix printer.
 It's 100% functional, I have CP/M and MS-DOS 1.02 floppies and it boots both (it has the 16 bit add-on board installed) and it also came with some vintage software, such as both CP/M and MS-DOS versions of Wordstar.
 I did some looking on eBay and I saw ONE system, which was 8 bit only and didn't even have the floppies or printer, go for some pretty good money. Right now I have it on my desk at work and it attracts a lot of attention. Some of the people I work with are younger than this computer.
 Later versions of this machine had fancier color graphics and sound, and were used as development systems for the Turbografix-16 console.

 

Offline tkamiya

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Re: NEC PC8801A
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 05:27:55 pm »
I used to work with these in Japan in my younger days.  I thought a PC8801 was a big brother of PC8001 and both were 8 bit, Z80 boxes?  I recall there was a PC9801 which was 8086 based....  I don't recall ever seeing a card to upgrade an 8 bit for a 16 bit.  Situation may be different in US, as unlike with Apple, custom and upgrade card business weren't all that common in Japan.  Everything was very proprietary but there was an official manual with a complete circuit diagram.  We produced custom programs (in Basic) and custom I/O boards. 

These were HUGELY expensive machines and quite popular in Japan in early 80s.  With basic console and CRT used to cost as much as an entry level NEW cars.  Adding disk drives and a printer made it into a luxury car territory.  Kind of recall seeing them on industrial control environment.  Initially, those machines came with precursor to a full blown operating system.  DISK BASIC booted from floppy and included some rudimentary disk operation commands.  (in Basic interpreter) 
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: NEC PC8801A
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2017, 12:09:06 am »
 What it appears is that NEC sold, at least in the US, several variations, all named PC8801A. I do not know what this one cost new, I'm sure it wasn't cheap, especially with the 16 bit card. When you boot off floppy, you hold down a key to switch it to 16 bit mode so it boots MS-DOS, otherwise it runs in 8 bit mode and wants a CP/M disk. This particular one has OK graphics, I'm not sure what the color capabilities are as I do not have a color monitor that can work with it. There are more recent versions of this which were used as development system for the TurboGrafix-16 console (friend of mine had one of those back in the day, pretty decent) and that version of the PC8801A had the same graphics and sound chips as the TurboGrafix. If they sold more than 10 of these in the US I would be amazed, even the retro guys on YouTube get theirs from Japan. I'm sure the one I have wasn't exactly a hot seller in the US either, although it did come out just before the IBM PC became the 'standard'

Another oddball another friend of mine had was an Epson. I vaguely recall it also had some sort of dual processor system, and some other differentiating factors from other MS-DOS machines - perhaps higher density floppies and I think they had a proprietary system of applications where you could hit a button on the keyboard to fire up the word processor, another button brought up a spreadsheet, etc.
 

Offline alank2

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Re: NEC PC8801A
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2017, 02:20:11 am »
Let's see a picture of this awesomeness!

I had a NEC PC-6001A back in the day and finally reacquired one last year and fixed it.
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: NEC PC8801A
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2017, 03:04:30 am »
 I have it set up at work, I'll take a picture when I go back to work next year. It truly confounds many of my coworkers, a good number of them who weren't even born when the machine was made.

 


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