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I > ISC (INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS CORP) > CompuColor II   


ISC (Intelligent Systems Corp)
CompuColor II

The CompuColor II, also called the "Renaissance Machine", is said to be the first home-computer available with a colour display. ISC (Intelligent Systems Corp), who was a large color computer manufacturer, conceived the CompuColor II built into a RCA color TV chassis (sans tuner assembly). The main problem of the system was that the machine had *no* RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) shielding what-so-ever and the FCC was soon on their butts. They planned to redesign the system but then prefered to stop production...

The first Compucolor system (model 8001) was in fact an 8080 based terminal (model 8001) and was later followed by the CompuColor II (model 8051), with BASIC and a floppy interface. It seems like the system was sold by ISC, Compucolor and Intecolor; but in which order ? Any idea someone ?

Different models with different keyboards were available. The one pictured here is the Deluxe model with a full implemented keyboard. There were models with 16, 32 or 48 kb RAM. Later models seemed to have a built-in 300 baud modem. Apparently, you could not format the 5.25" disks yourself, surely because Intecolor wanted to make money by selling these preformated disks... But many users ended up by writing their own formating programs.

The system was very vulnerable to certain hardware tinkering. Tampering with the addresses that accessed the hardware registers could wipe out all the RAM (it did something fatal to the refresh logic). It used an Intel CRT controller for screen processing. Altering the number of scanlines to too high a value could kill the CRT.

The ROM contained a ripped-off version of Microsoft BASIC and a simplistic file system. Microsoft found out about them, and forced ISC to become a Microsoft distributor. They also collected royalties on all machines sold up to that time.

The disk drive was originally designed to use an 8-track tape cartridge for storage (yes, you read that right!). When that proved to unreliable, they switched to a 5.25 inch disk drive. They didn't change the file system, which still thought it was a tape drive. When you deleted a file, it re-packed all remaining files back to the front of the disk. Used the 8K of screen RAM for a buffer to do it, which led to some psychedelic I/O.

Some games were available, such as the famous Star-Trek, Othello, Chess, Black Jack, Tic Tac Toe, etc.

Thanks to the Computer Closet Collection for the picture.
Thanks to Woodside for some information.




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.
NAME  CompuColor II
MANUFACTURER  ISC (Intelligent Systems Corp)
TYPE  Home Computer
ORIGIN  U.S.A.
YEAR  1977
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  CompuColor Basic
KEYBOARD  Full-stroke keyboard with colorful keys! Separate numeric keypad, function keys and arrow keys
CPU  Intel 8080A
CO-PROCESSOR  Intel CRT controller
RAM  16, 32 or 48 kb depending on models
ROM  16 kb
TEXT MODES  40 x 24, 64 x 32
GRAPHIC MODES  128 x 128
COLORS  8 colors
I/O PORTS  Keyboard, monitor, serial port, external disk drive
BUILT IN MEDIA  5.25'' disk-drive (51,2 kb, 40 tracks, average access time 400ms, transfer rate 76,8 Kb/s), built-in the monitor
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in PSU
PERIPHERALS  Additional disk drive
PRICE  $1495 (USA, 1980)
16k model: 1770 (France, 1980)
32k model: 2103 (France, 1980)


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