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S > SEMI-TECH  > Pied Piper   


SEMI-TECH
Pied Piper

Not much is known about this small computer, designed in Canada and presented at the 1983 NCC show (Anaheim, California), in May. It was marketed then as a portable computer! Quite strange as when you have look at the picture, it looks more like a desktop computer, no built-in screen... In fact it had a handle on the back and a plastic cover for the keyboard. One could carry it like a briefcase. You still needed a monitor (TV) at the other location, however...

Anyway, the Pied Piper apparently didn't last long. All we know is that it was intended to be marketed in the US, at $1300. It was based upon a Z80 CPU, had a 5''1/4 disk-drive built-in (720 KB) and used CP/M. It was sold with a complete "Perfect Software" package.
The modem card was optional, manufacturered in Hong Kong at Semi Tech Hong Kong Ltd.

According to Terry Danyleyko who worked for Semi Tech, 1000 pieces were sold to China. A Chinese CP/M was even written specially for the Pied Piper.

_______________________

Tim Gieseler reports :
I sold ONE pied-piper at my short-lived computer store around 1983-4. There was nothing portable about it, but it was a smallish CP/M machine distinguished by it's use of a standard video monitor (none was supplied) and an unusually large single floppy drive compared to the Eagle/Kaypro/TRS-80s of the day. It was able to read/write many of the numerous floppy formats, as well.

The "Perfect" software, same as supplied by Kaypro, was universally horrible, buggy, barely functional - but heavily promoted by the manufacture and bundled by many computer makers.


Special thanks to Wesley Cox from Canada who donated us this computer !


 

I used to work for the company as a design engineer after Pied Pier almost completed design phase. I enjoyed creating new designs especially graphics part using discrete components for next generation projects since no LSI solutions were available at the time. good old day.

          
Wednesday 1st May 2019
Satoshi Otsuka (Japan)

Would you believe I was one of the original designer of the Pipe Piper? I was hired by James Ting, the former CEO of Semi-Tech. I graduated from U of Toronto and was the only employee of Semi-Tech until sales order came in then all other key owners of the business joined full time. We opened up a factory in Hong Kong in 1983 to begin making the Pipe Piper.
If you look at the technology available today you can say this Pipe Piper would have been very inadequate. But at the time 64K of RAM and a 1MByte floppy was in the leading edge. A lot of excitement was created at the 1983 Los Vegas Comdex show. The original design philosophy was that the owner would take the Pipe Piper to and from the office and a monitor is available at home and one in the office. That was the niche we tried to home in on. The second generation of the Pipe Piper had a 2line LCD for those who may travel to some place other than home and the office so a small display is available.
In order to pass FCC radiation testing the casing had to be coated with a copper layer on top of the plastic. Then paint is applied over the copper. Paint adhesion problem was a major concern. For the early Pipe Pipers tarnished copper showing through the paint was a major after sale headache.
I am not trying to defend its design, but these are the thoughts that went behind the generations of design.
On a personal level the Pipe Piper taught me a lot about engineering and designing a product for the consumer market. I was then involved with how to manufacture it, how to market it, and how to service it. I was exposed to all these different aspects of a business. It made me a better engineer as a result. I still benefit from this experience even today.

          
Saturday 4th February 2012
Kenny Tam (Canada)

Hi
I have a Pied Piper. Bought it as i was always travelling but only used it a few times. Still have the manuals and floppy disks. If anyone is interested in buying it, let me know.

          
Thursday 31st January 2019
Gerry (Canada)

 

NAME  Pied Piper
MANUFACTURER  Semi-Tech
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  U.S.A.
YEAR  May 1983
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  None
KEYBOARD  Typewriter keyboard, QWERTY, 62 keys
CPU  Zilog Z80A
SPEED  4 MHZ
RAM  64 kb
VRAM  2 KB
ROM  8 KB
TEXT MODES  40 or 80 columns x 24 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  None
COLORS  16
SOUND  None
SIZE / WEIGHT  51 (W) x 27 (D) x 10 (H) cm / 6.25 Kg.
I/O PORTS  serial / parallel port , RF Modulator
BUILT IN MEDIA  5.25'' disk-drive (720kb)
OS  CP/M 2.2
POWER SUPPLY  Built in power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  External 5.25 floppy drive, internal RAM card and modem card, Hard disk interface
PRICE  $1299 (1983)




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