The Best Computers You're (Probably) Never Heard Of (Part 2) - Tatung Einstein, Camputers Lynx

7/6/2012 5:32:00 PM

Tatung Einstein 

The Tatung Einstein was a UK-designed Japanese computer that launched in 1984. It has a built-in 3” disk drive (like those found in Amstrad computers) and used a Z80 processor.

For its time it was pretty advanced, and it found a small niche market with ZX Spectrum software  developers who used the machine to write and develop the code on, and then, using Sinclair Interface 1, sent their code to the Spectrum for testing. This meant that they could store to disk drive easily and not have to mess around with Sinclair Microdrives on the like.

Description: Tatung Einstein

An add-on for the Einsten also meant that it could emulate the Spectrum itself, so a large ranger of software was available for the machine. Sadly, the price was against it. The Tatung was very expensive and people were unwilling to pay the $750 it sold for no play ZX Spectrum software, when they could have a ZX Spectrum for $187.5

It was an interesting machine and tis use as a development machine may have saved it. Unfortunately, the new wave of 16-bit computers such as the ST and Amiga took over this role, and the Einstein was abandoned.

Camputers Lynx

Description: The Computer Lynx

The Camputers Lynx was released in 1983 and was a fully British designed and built computer. Not that this patriotic fact helped it to sell in any significant numbers.

I personally remember the adverts for the Lynx and thinking that it looked like a nice machine. It had a full keyboard and it looked quite smart and compact. It also featured a very advanced Basic programming language that enabled sophisticated graphics to be easily created.

Sadly, nobody bothered to write any programs at all for the Lynx, and lack of software meant a complete lack of buyers. While there was nothing really revolutionary about the Lynx, it was a nice computer, and if you manage to find one for sale on eBay for less than a few hundred pounded, then you’re doing well, such is their rarity.


Description: Enterprise

Similar to the Lynx, the Enterprise was released at a time when many, many 8-bit computers were being released, and it suffered accordingly.

While inside it was a fairly standard 8-bit, it was the outside that made the Enterprise stand out. The case design was brilliant, with sweeping lines and a built-in joystick. It should have been every gamer’s computer of choice.

Unfortunately, despite the built-in joystick the manufacturer forgot to write any games for the computer, and available programs could be counted on one hand. As with the Lynx, good examples of this computer fetch silly money on eBay, as there just aren’t that many of them around.

SAM Coupe

Description: SAM Coupe

It wasn’t, however, a 16-bit machine, more a souped up 8-bit one, and that was really its downfall.

In the mid to late 80s, we were all sick of our ZX Spectrums. Manic Miner had passed and we were all awaiting the 16-bit computers with anticipation. What we needed was some sort of super-Spectrum. Amstrad failed us on this score, releasing a Spectrum with a glued on tape/disk drive; Mr.Sinclair himself failed us too, releasing the disappointing QL, which had no software for it. Then along came Miles Gordon technology with the answer: The SAM Coupe.

It looked a bit like a fatter Atari ST, with a built-in 3.5” disk drive on one side. A full proper keyboard also added to its high-quality look. Unlike the ZX Spectrum, it had many different graphics modes, and high-quality sound built in.

It wasn’t, however, a 16-bit machine, more a souped up 8-bit one, and that was really its downfall. Its arrival in 1989 was just that bit too late. The Amiga and the ST had come in 1986 and 1985 respectively and they really were a new generation of computers, wheras the SAM Coupe was still living in the past. It could however play ZX Spectrum games via a built-in emulator (although not all of them; tape loading speeds apparently caused it problems).

It wasn’t that it was a bad computer, but it arrived late on the scene. Had it come in 1986, then it may well have been a huge hit, and a logical upgrade for Spectrum users looking for new challengers. By the time of its release, nobody wanted it, and is was a commercial flop. It did, however, have an excellent new version of Manic Miner, which was almost worth the asking price alone.

It’s regular item on eBay, and if you time your bids well, you can get a fairly shabby one for about $150. A boxed version in mint condition, though, will set you back five times that.

  •  Embarrassing Bugs (Part 3)
  •  Embarrassing Bugs (Part 2)
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