This professional computer from NEC was a very nice system at the time. With its high resolution graphics (640 x 475) and its large disk capacity (1 MB), it sure was impressive in 1982!
Bill Czermak recalls:
I developed the first version of MIPS (Manufacturers Integrated Production System) on one of the first colour APCs sold in Australia. I added a 5 Mb NEC harddisk later. The 8" floppies held 1.2 Mb.
I am told my original system is in a museum in the Geelong area.
I added an XT compatibility card to port my software to the the IBM XT and my software worked fine using this card. When I installed it on a customer's genuine IBM, I got a blank screen!!! Which I fixed that day on the customer's premesis. I think the APC was 30% faster than the XT and cheaper with better graphics.
Jeremiah S. Junken reports :
I actually have one of these which still works. By default, it runs CPM/86, there was a UNIX available, and MS-DOS available. Mine had an external 10MB HDD. The software included "benchmark" word processor, VisiCalc and dBase II.
The major things worth nothing about this otherwise unremarkable machine were it's relative speed, the fact that the lights would dim slightly when it was turned on, and that, in the year 2002, it still works. :-)
Gary McCray adds:
I actually still have a working one of these also. Actually, it was pretty remarakable when it came out for its high resolution graphics capability using a (at the time) powerful NEC 7220 Graphics controller chip which formed the base strategy for virtually every other graphics controller since.
Unfortunately very little software was available that took advantage of its graphics capability. Also it was featured in one of the stupidist full page ads ever produced and ran for months with a giant hand covering it up and the admonition "The Computer The Competition Doesnt Want You to See" and a suggestion to write away for information on it (see 'Adverts' section). If that wasn't stupid enough, you couldn't actually get any information on it from either writing or calling.
It is remarkably well made and was extremely powerful and reliable in the time it was built (weighs over 80 lb). But a combination of truly stupid advertising and lack of easy access doomed it in the US to a very small group. It fared much better in Japan understandably, and surprisingly in Australia (no giant hand I guess). I developed graphics authoring programs for it that sold successfully in both Japan and Australia.
We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system,
please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
I have the 128K colour dual floppy model, text only although you could load up to 256 custom characters into the CGRAM which could be used as a rudimentary graphics facility, my dad bought this mainly for word processing and business but although it moved between his factory/office and home at times it was mainly used as our family computer, effectively my personal hobby machine and I loved it. My friends had Commodore 64s, PETs, Dick Smith VZ200 and the like, I was jealous of their graphics and sound capabilities but on the whole I liked having a solid business machine running a good BASIC (we used MSDOS 2.11 with MS Basic-86 interpreter, I also dabbled with the compiler from time to time). I was not that competent in assembly language and the 7220 datasheet was gobbledegook to me at the time but I was always keen to try to switch the text card into graphics mode or obtain the graphics card for it. If anybody has such a card and could post to Australia for a nominal fee I would love to try it out. Our machine had a minor fault which was probably temperature related but would only occur occasionally, however any replacement CPU card, etc, would also be more than welcome, as would any well known software since we had basically no software for the machine except what we ported ourselves, the main app we used was "Spellbinder" word processor running on a daisywheel that my father had rescued from scrap and fitted with a serial interface, he then created font tables etc for Spellbinder. Very awesome.
Tuesday 21st June 2016
Nicholas Downing (Australia)
I had 2 of these, both gone, but still have all the cards, except for the CPU card. I even have the aftermarket Butler Flats Associates card that connects the machine to 5 1/4" disk drives. The s/w I never took the opportunity to archive, and sadly is unobtainium. If anyone has the drivers for this board, and/or the cpu card, please contact me. indiscreetlogic at yahoo dot calm
Sunday 20th March 2016
Chris (New Jersey)
please correct the OS information on the NEC APC. These computers initially only came with the UCSD P-System Then later (in 1981) CPM-86 was added. Then (after the IBM PC existed) MS-DOS was eventually ported.
I wrote almost a million lines of Pascal code for a complete CADD system that successfully competed against AutoCAD at the time. It was called "Arthur"
The color graphics board came with 512k bytes of RAM, as 3 banks of RGB 1024x1024 pixels (128k per color plane) plus 128k general RAM. Plus 768k main memory. Plus a monochrome video (text) card also running an NEC uPD-7220 chip, but running in text mode.
In Canada, fully loaded (dual 8" floppies, 1-1/4 Megs of RAM, but without the math co-processor or HD) they cost $8,500 each. That was 1981.
Wednesday 18th February 2015
Brian Empey, P.Eng. (Canada)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Typewriter type, 61 key + 25 key numeric/cursor pad + 22 function keys
NEC 7220 graphic chip, socket for a math co-processor
128 KB standard, 640 KB max.
4 KB ROM, 4 KB battery-backed CMOS RAM
80 columns x 25 lines + 1 status line (8x19 dots character matrix)
640 x 475 pixels
SIZE / WEIGHT
48.3 (W) x 61 (D) x 35.5 (H) cm / heavy!
1 or 2 x RS232 up to 19.200 baud, 1 x Parallel
BUILT IN MEDIA
2 x 8'' floppy disk drives (243 KB or 1 MB) Optional hard-disk (9 or 18 MB formatted)
CP/M-86, UNIX and MS DOS in option
2nd RS-232 port, 32-bit floating point unit, Line drawing graphics subsystem, Very high resolution (1024x1024) , IBM emulation software, SDLC communication procedure