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1980s Computers Explanation of terms
Notes


The Micro-Professor MPF-1


Micro-Professor

Manufacturer

Initially Multitech (Taiwan)
Later Acer (Taiwan) then Flight (now Flite) Electronics (UK)

Model

Micro-Professor I (or MPF-1)

Date Launched

1978 in Taiwan
1981 ? in UK

Price

Around £100 originally
£60 in 1982

Microprocessor type

Zilog Z80 @ 1.79 MHz

ROM size

2 kilobytes, or up to 8KB with optional BASIC ROM

Standard RAM

2 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

4 kilobytes

Keyboard type

36 calculator-style keys covering hexadecimal digits and commands

Supplied language

Programmed in hexadecimal machine code.
A simple integer-variable-only BASIC in ROM was an optional extra, or standard in the MPF-1B model.

Text resolution

6 digit, 7-segment LED display, ½inch high.

Graphics resolution

No graphics

Colours available

Red LED

Example Screenshot

bASIC on LED display
Some letters could be formed on the LED display as well as digits, as shown here.

Sound

Beeps through small speaker

Cassette load speed

165 bits per second

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

158 x 224 x 19
640

Special features

There is an area of the board (middle right) for users to build their own circuits using the 'bread-board' format.
MPF-1 in book caseThe Micro-Professor is supplied in a moulded plastic box/case which opens like a book:

Good points

Socket for additional 8KB EPROM. (This may be in place of the BASIC ROM.)
Relatively low price.
The simple hardware design does not complicate machine code programming.

Bad points

With no QWERTY keyboard and a display limited to six characters the Micro-Professor was unsuited to most home computer uses.

How successful?

At least 10,000 sold in total.

Comments

The Micro-Professor I was intended as a teaching aid to learn the principles of low-level microprocessor programming and was thus aimed mainly at educational establishments. Its other use was that programs developed on the MPF-1 could be transferred to EPROM for permanent storage and the device then used as an embedded controller.

MPF1 PlusA later model, the MPF1 Plus (right), had a small QWERTY keyboard, 4KB of RAM, a 20-digit, 14-segment green phosphorescent display and sold for £177.

Multitech changed its name to Acer in 1981 and unlike so many of the early computer manufacturers, Acer still exists, being a very large supplier of PCs, especially laptops.
In February 1993 the rights to the Micro-Professor were sold to Flite Electronics International Limited, based in Southampton, UK. Remarkably the MPF-1B (with BASIC ROM) is still on sale in 2006 with few changes from the original Micro-Professor, making it probably the longest-selling home computer.



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