VTech Laser 200

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VTech Laser 200
Disk smith vz200 front.jpg
The VTech Laser 200, rebadged as a Dick Smith VZ200
Manufacturer Video Technology
Type Personal Computer
Release date November 1983 (1983-11)[1]
Introductory price $99USD
£98GBP
Discontinued 1985
Units sold 200,000 in Australia
Media Cassette tape Disk drive
Operating system BASIC V1.2
Power 9 volt
CPU Zilog Z80A clocked at 3.58 MHz, Motorola 6847 video processor
Memory 6-22KB USER-RAM + 2KB VRAM, 16KB ROM
Display 32×16 (8 colors), 128×64 graphics (2 background, 3 foreground colors)
Input 45 key Keyboard
Dimensions 29 × 17 × 4cm
Weight 800g
Predecessor VTech Laser 110
Successor VTech Laser 310
The back panel of the VZ200

The VTech Laser 200 was an early 8-bit home computer from 1983, also sold as the Salora Fellow (mainly in Fennoscandia, particularly Finland), the Texet TX8000 (in the United Kingdom) and the Dick Smith VZ 200 (in Australia and New Zealand).

The machine ran basic games on cassette such as "Hoppy" Frogger, "Cosmic Rescue" Scramble, "VZ Invaders" Space Invaders and Moon Patrol. The computer was discontinued in 1985 to make way for more advanced home computers.

Release[edit]

At its UK launch, Texet claimed that the £98 TX8000-branded version was the cheapest colour home microcomputer on the market. However, this was not enough to ensure its success against the dominant ZX Spectrum and similar machines already on sale.[2] Most notably, the Spectrum-like Oric 1 was selling for £99 at this point, and offered a far higher specification than the Texet for little difference in cost.

The "Dick Smith"-badged VZ 200 was more successful in Australia, where it proved popular as a first computer.[3]

An improved version known as the VTech Laser 310, or the Dick Smith VZ 300 featured a full travel keyboard and 8K ROM software based Floppy Disk Controller, was released in 1985 and continued until 1989.[4]

Technical specification[edit]

The Laser 200 was designed and built by Video Technology (VTech) in Hong Kong and derived from the Tandy TRS-80. Based on a Zilog Z80A CPU driven by a television colour burst crystal (3.5795454 MHz), it offered 16 KB of ROM containing Microsoft BASIC Level II, 8 kB RAM (2 kB of this is VRAM) and four-colour graphics at a resolution of 128×64 or 64×32, or 32 columns and 16 lines of eight-colour text. Because there is only 2 kB of VRAM only one of the video display modes of the MC6847 VDC is available, effectively disabling the higher resolution 256x192 mono colour mode, there were a few unofficial "mods" developed that increased the VRAM and enabled the 256x192 mode that the MC6847 was capable of, a number of programs where written (mainly) by German user groups that used this mod. Rather crude sound effects could be achieved by a built-in push/pull piezo speaker.

The BASIC interpreter was similar to that offered in the Video Genie but with many of the advanced BASIC commands disabled.

The Laser 200 used the MC6847 Video Display Generator (VDG) chip for graphics.

Emulators[edit]

A number of emulators have since been written for these models of computers.

MESS VZ/Laser emulation by Juergen Buchmueller and Dirk Best

JEMU by Richard Wilson

JVZ200 by James Tamer

VZEM (Windows and DOS versions) by Guy Thomason

Pocket VZ (for the Pocket PC) by Guy Thomason

DSVZ200 - VZ300 & VZ200 emulation by Gavin Turner

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=155
  2. ^ Bennett, Bill, Texet TX-8000 review, Your Computer magazine, April 1983. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  3. ^ Dick Smith VZ-200, thepcmuseum.com. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  4. ^ Video Technology Laser 310, old-computers.com. Retrieved 2007-03-21.

External links[edit]