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1980s Computers Explanation of terms
Notes


The Genie I


Genie Mark 1

Manufacturer

EACA (Hong Kong)
(Sold in the UK by Lowe Electronics)

Model

Genie Mark I
Also sold as the Video Genie (Europe), EG-3003 (EACA's code), PMC-80 (Personal Micro Computers Inc, America) or Dick Smith System 80 (Australia).

Date Launched

Mid 1980

Price

£295

Microprocessor type

Zilog Z80A @ 1.79 MHz

ROM size

16 kilobytes

Standard RAM

16 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

48 kilobytes via external expansion box

Keyboard type

Typewriter style

Supplied language

12K Extended Microsoft BASIC

Text resolution

Normally 64 x 16 characters.
Optionally the display could be split vertically into two 32-column 'pages' which could be switched between.
This made the text easier to read on a TV screen.

Graphics resolution

128 x 48 pixels

Character graphics formatThe Genie I had a character-only display but could achieve the effect of pixel graphics using a carefully designed character set:

Thus the first eight graphics characters were:
Character codes versus pixel patterns

Colours available

Monochrome

Sound

Originally sound was only available by modifying the cassette port and using an external amplifier. After 1982 an internal amplifier and speaker were added.

Cassette load speed

500 baud

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

550 x 400 x 100 approx.
Not known

Special features

Built-in cassette recorder

Good points

Mostly compatible with the more expensive Tandy TRS-80 so plenty of software was available.
An optional expansion box allowed connection to printers and disc drives.

Bad points

The original version, before October 1981, had no lowercase text.
Not quite 100% compatible with TRS-80.

How successful?

Fairly popular as a low-cost TRS-80 substitute. At least several tens of thousands were sold.
The System 80 was common in Australian schools.

Comments

A far-eastern almost clone of the Tandy machine (so that it could make use of the TRS-80's software library) but with an integrated cassette unit and a lower price.
The Microsoft BASIC was fully licensed but the I/O routines copied from the TRS-80 ROM were not. In 1981 Tandy successfully sued PMC for copyright infringement and the computer was withdrawn from sale in America. Strangely though Tandy did not try to stop sales of the EACA version in other countries.

Genie IIThe Genie Mark II of 1981 was very similar but aimed at the business market. It featured a built-in numeric pad in place of the cassette recorder and was intended to be used with a monitor display and disk drives.



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