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N > NORTHSTAR  > Advantage     


NorthStar launched this indestructible all-in-one system in 1982.

The Advantage combined the well known (at the time) NorthStar 5.25 floppy disc sub-system with a high-resolution display and a durable keyboard. The Advantage also had it's own bus with it's own set of optional I/O card and a 8088 co-processor card for comparability with the newly released IBM PC software. Sadly, the card was delivered with MS-DOS ver.1 which wasn't compatible with the IBM-PC PC-DOS and very few programs were developed for this OS.

Despite some interesting features - High resolution graphics display, 8 and 16-bit software compatibility - and a proven reliability, the Advantage never really competed with Apple and IBM-PC systems


More information from Jim who worked for NorthStar from 1979:
Kentucky Fried Computer (KFC) was the original name of the company in their garage building stage, and was quickly changed to NorthStar when they found commercial potential.
One great feature of the Advantage was that it had an IBM Selectric (as in typewriters) keyboard. Very high quality, and familiar to typists. There was a 16 bit add-in card that ran generic MSDOS 1. The display allowed to run graphic games like Asteroid, and could display foreign character sets. Many were sold outside the US.
It also had networking cards, called NorthNet (I don't remember the protocol) to link many Advantages together, when this was just a dream for IBM.
As you said, it came out about the time of the IBM PC, which pretty much killed it, mostly because people didn't understand the technology.

T. N French adds:
Early versions of NorthNet were SNA None Return to Zero Inverted (NRZI). Netbios came along. NorthStar also developed an add-on that ran PC-DOS.
The hard sectored drives were notorious for getting out of alignment. I think that is what really killed the system (PC-DOS and IBM didn't help)
I was working for GBC at the time and we re-badged the product line (Advantage = System 9 and Horizon = System 12).
Hard disks were available with 5, 10 and 30 Mb runnig MFM.



In the past few years this appeared in Old Spice''s MANta Claus commercials on YouTube, with the badge covered and fake screen overlays. It seems to have escaped notice, but pretty cool to see it on the small screen anyhow!

Monday 16th June 2014
ian Butler (USA)

I may have some old Creative computing NorthStar Horizon information if any body is interested $$ Also has any body got an electronic copy of the program "What''s IT"

Wednesday 16th April 2014
Andrew Reid (Australia)
Andrew Reid

I still have a Northstar Advantage. It was purchased new in 1981 and was used in our business. Later on it was used by my children for high school and college. I have all the original diskettes including Wordstar and CPM. If someone is intested I will sell it for the right price.

Monday 2nd December 2013
John Lynn (USA)


NAME  Advantage
TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  1982
KEYBOARD  Full-stroke 79 keys with function keys and numeric keypad
CPU  Z80 or 8088
SPEED  3.5 Mhz. (Z80)
CO-PROCESSOR  8084 for display and disk management
RAM  64 KB expandable to 256 KB
VRAM  32 KB - 20 KB actually used - Extra 12 KB was reserved for
ROM  2 KB (Boot ROM)
TEXT MODES  40/80 chars x 25 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  640 x 240 dots
COLORS  Monochrome
SOUND  Beeper
I/O PORTS  Serial and Parallel ports (expansion cards)
BUILT IN MEDIA  1/2 x 5.25 F.D. drives, 5 to 20 MB hard-disk
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply
PERIPHERALS  Proprietary extension cards
PRICE  $3990



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