Claudio Carlquist's Homepage
Back to the 80's there were three main families of computers in Brasil. We couldn't consider them as competitors cause they were basically the steps one should follow to master those beasts of the time. The Sinclair Family were based on the good-old ZX-81 and later on the new Sinclair Spectrum model of Sinclair Research Company, funded in England by Sir Clive Sinclair. The TRS-80 Family were based on Tandy-Radio Shack Model I, Model III and also TRS-Color Computers. And last but not at least, the most desired computers back on the beginning of the 80's were based on the american Apple II machine class, featuring specially the Apple][+ and Apple //e models, both legends of their time. Several Apple ][+ clones appeared in Brasil during the 80's, and even some Apple //e clones were produced here before the end of "The Apple ][ era". The MSX family came on the end of this "romantic" era (1985...); IMHO those machines were ahead of their time and started the PC domination using MS-DOS 1.0. BTW, MSX stands for "Microsoft Extended"... So, I've got no contact with them unless nowadays via emulation :-)
The Sinclair Family:
The Sinclair Family started on 1980 in England when Clive Sinclair (not yet "Sir") developed "the first computer cheaper than U$100.00" and started selling it as a kit - the ZX-80. It was based on the most powerful microprocessor of the time, the Z-80, running in 4.25 MHz and providing 4KB ROM with the BASIC Language and 1 KB RAM for user's programs! It was followed by the ZX-81, providing an updated BASIC under 8KB ROM and leaving the same 1KB for user's programs. A 16KB RAM upgrade was provided as an optional pack.
Both were "cloned" in Brasil; the first as Prologica's NE Z80, that later on was modified to become the NE Z8000, using ZX-81's ROM but still lacking the "Slow Mode" for graphics presentation. I have a fully working Z-8000 in my collection! The second one was cloned by several companies (none of them still exists nowadays). So, besides the Z-8000 we could find the following ZX-81's clones in Brasil: Prologica's CP-200 (my first computer, 10KB ROM with BASIC and High Speed rate for transferring programs from tape and 16KB RAM), Microdigital's TK-82C (ZX-81 compatible but based on ZX-80's hardware, 2KB RAM), TK-83 (a ZX-81's copy, even featuring the ULA Chip that gave Clive the "Sir" title, 2KB RAM), TK-85 (almost the same as CP-200, but the design was based on ZX-Spectrum's, 16KB RAM), Ritas' RINGO (different hardware but was able to "emulate" the ZX-81 platform), Engesoft's AS-1000 (an weird design) and CDSE's Apply 300 (I had never seen one of this except on advertisement; it could had been a "vaporware").
The family got a new member in 1983 when the "new" ZX-Spectrum was launched, featuring 16KB RAM and color, a "must" on the time! Although both ZX-81 and ZX-Spectrum used the same processor, the later was faster cause it had special circuits for handling video output, which was managed by the Z-80 itself on ZX-81. It was also cloned by Microdigital as TK-90X, featuring either 16KB or 48KB RAM, and later on followed by TK-95, featuring a "professional" keyboard, mouse was available as optional. It was a shame we couldn't afford to have the famous Microdrive from Sinclair due to former Brasilian politician rules that prevented us from importing any equipment qualified as a "computer" in the 80's... As a funny note, Microdigital's software division was called "Microsoft" and it was used to COPY international programs and sell them under different names after translation only!!!
The TRS-80 Family:
These computers were widely used both professionaly and at home; ......
The Apple Family: