The MUPID (Multipurpose Universal Programmable Intelligent Decoder) was originally mainly marketed as a Prestel (or BTX as it was called in Austria and Germany) terminal for the Austrian post office (that operated this service).
However, contrary to numerous dumb videotext terminals used in various European countries, this one was actually a true home computer featuring a Z80 microprocessor, BASIC, a large amount of memory (128kB), a colour video interface and several I/O ports. It could be connected to any colour TV set and provided 1200/75 baud modem, tape recorder and parallel printer interfaces. An external floppy drive unit was also available.
A very modern specialty was the ability of this computer to execute programs stored on the Prestel server (which was possible because the machine was designed directly for using the national Prestel system). The developers were obviously that amazed by this ability that they even based the Basic development system on this feature - you first had to load e.g. the editor from the server).
The Mupid was developed between 1980 and 1983 by a team at the Institute for Information Processing Graz ("Institute für Informationsverarbeitung Graz (IIG)") at the Technical University Graz led by Prof. Hermann Maurer (whose team later on developed the ill-fated WWW competitor HyperWave) and Prof. Posch.
For the industrial exploitation an own company, 1983 the Mupid Computer Corporation ("Mupid Computer Gesellschaft (MCG)") was founded whose stockholders were big Austrian companies like VOEST and Siemens. 6% of the sales went to the IIG for which it was a very good source of funding. 1987 the MCG dissolved. 1989 the last Mupid was built.
The machine itself had for the time very good color and graphics capabilities.
This was caused by the requirements of the Austrian (and CEPT) Prestel standards (The Austrian Prestel capabilities were by far better than other European systems.
You could transmit 4096-colour images instead of 16 elsewhere). The Mupid 2 models even provided support for the most advanced of the standard options: Cept C2. C2 is a vector graphics tool kit that was close to the Grahical Kernel (GKS) standard with a resolution of 320x240 pixels and with functions like splines(!).
Being a home computer, Mupid had some Basic capabilities built in the ROM - but not a complete development system as other computers. The Basic (or Basics as there were several versions) compiled into an intermediate code - and the Mupid only got an interpreter for this intermediate code. The development system (editor, compiler, other tools) that were needed to create this code consists of programs that needed to be loaded from a Prestel server. The Basic was very powerful and you could also access the Prestel system.
Also the optional serially-attached floppy system fit into this system. It could either be used in the traditional way as an intelligent storage system for which a CP/M was available.
It could also be used as a local Prestel server thus replacing the remote connection to the Prestel system. Using this way, you could use e.g. the Basic development environment locally. Two different floppy systems were available. An intelligent 5.25' system (64KB RAM, 8 KB ROM, Z80 CPU) or a dumb 3.5' system that was controlled by the Mupid. Therefore, some documentation warn you that the display might flicker if you execute CP/M commands on the latter system...
If you want to use a Mupid system nowadays, you do not have to time travel to the past in order to connect to the today's defunct Prestel system. You even do not have to buy a floppy disc system for the Mupid system (and they are even more rare than the machines itself). Instead, you can use a PC program that connects your PC to a Mupid serially and that emulates a floppy system (that in turn can emulate a Prestel server).
The Mupid was followed by the Mupid 2 which had a better keyboard, and which supported the CEPT Prestel standard instead of the national Austrian one. At their time, the Austrian post office even replaces Mupid 1 by Mupid 2s for free (I wonder what they did with all these returned Mupid 1 models).
There were 3 Mupid 2 models:
- C2D (German version of the square tin case with separate keyboard)
According to some rumor, these models did not went into sales.
- C2D2 (German version of the compact case labelled "Komfort MUPID")
- C2A2 (Austrian version of the compact case)
- In addition there was a Mupid card for early PCs.
Apart from the floppy disc drive, there was one additional option for the Mupid 2.
The so-called "Permanent Memory" upgraded a normal Mupid 2 to a "Komfort Mupid"
(it seems that all German C2D2 models were Komfort Mupids). This option consists of a battery-buffered 128 KB CMOS memory that costed an enormous 420 Euro (currently about 650$). This memory allowed either:
- to store and reload existing Prestel pages without additional costs
- to store BASIC programs or graphics without other external memory
- to be used as a RAM disc (this even allowed to run CP/M without a floppy disc)
There were even OEM models of the Mupids. The Grundig PTC 100 was a Mupid C2D2 in a different color (the floppy disc station was the Grundig FL100), the Siemens T3110 a C2D.
Numberwise the Mupids are rather rare computers. The published sale numbers vary, but it sounds reasonable that about 8000 Mupid 1s are reported to be sold (in their selling period between 1984 and August 1985), and 40000 Mupids (i.e. model 1 and 2) in total.
If you want to test your Mupid, you try the following key-combinations:
(With (K) I mean the blue K-Key, and ctrl-2 means: hold the ctrl-key and hit "2")
(K) L .............. changing to the local-mode. Now key-hits are displayed on the screen.
ctrl-2 / B ......... clear screen (only in local-mode)
ctrl-1 # blanc T ... screen is blue
ctrl-shift-c ....... foreground (character) yellow "Text"
Contributors : Fritz Hohl.