The Laser 200/210 was surely the most
sold worldwide model of all the Laser 100/200/300 family. It was a good
choice if you wanted to buy a cheap computer for initiation. Moreover,
in some countries like New-Zealand or Australia, it had a great success
because it was imported by Dick Smith Electronic at the right time, when
there was no competition yet for this kind of computer.
~ THE HEIR OF THE LASER 100
The Laser 200 is in fact an upgraded Laser
100, with more memory depending on the versions and especially a color
display ! Besides, if we open a Laser 200 we discover the Laser 100 motherboard
with a small daughter board added to implement the color features. As
well, the memory upgrade is achieved through small additional memory boards
In "high resolution", only the green color was
available for the background, feature that was typical video processor
used (Motorola 6847 ) also found on systems such as the TRS80
Coco and its different clones, Laser serie, Dragon
~ DIFFERENT VERSIONS WORLDWIDE
Many models were sold worldwide, some having different cases, others
having memory differences. The VZ-200
for example, sold by Dick Smith Electronic in Oceania had the same case
that the european Laser 200 but more memory (8 KB), whereas the Salora
Fellow sold in Finland and the Laser 210 (8 KB RAM) had a slightly
different case (identical to the Laser 100/110/210). The english version,
the Texet TX-8000, had a white case identical to the
Laser 200 sold in Europe. There was also a VZ-200 sold
in Germany by Video Technology that seemed to be identical to our Laser
200 (same case and 4 KB RAM), but in PAL version.
A lot of different versions, very confusing, and we're not
even talking about the different ROM versions !
~ THE LASER 200
Let's talk a bit of the Laser 200. It is not an amazing machine
but it's clearly a good initiation computer.
It offers 4 KB RAM and only 1,5 KB left for Basic programming (Microsoft
Basic), just a bit better than the ZX-81
! Ok, it appeared early (1983) and is thus considered as the first wave
of the cheap 8-bit micro computers. Besides it has a gool old chicklet
keyboard with a bunch of options for each key. The key "1"
for example is also used for the Basic statements CSAVE and SIN,
is used to type "!" and can be pressed to select the
green color. 5 functions for one key, it almost breaks the ZX
Spectrum record !
Apart from that, it was cheap (1200 FF at the end of 84), offers a full
page editor, which is still rare on its competitors and it is possible
to plug a bunch of expansions on it : floppy disk drive, memory expansions
(16 KB and 64 KB), lightpen, printer, joysticks, etc. In fact the Laser
200 was a worthy successor of the ZX-81 and a serious competitor for other
initiation systems like the Tandy
MC-10 or Matra
Power supply |
Tape recorder| Monitor |
Memory expansion port |
Peripheral port | Video
Sound features are not awesome. There is only one voice with 3 octaves,
and the notes are played by a vibrant metallic plate.
About the graphic features, the system offers semi-graphical symbols
like on the ZX-81, that is it to say a whole range of predefined 2 pixels
wide graphic blocks... which result in a theoric "high resolution"
of 128 x 64 pixels, amazing !!
In 1984, for 1490 FF you got :
- Laser 200 computer
- tape-recorder cord
- "micro to monitor" video cable
- technical Basic book (150 pages)
- exercises book
- "getting started" manual
- and a demo tape,
the whole thing for 1490 FF
In 1985 the Laser 200 is replaced by the Laser
Pingo (from Sweden) reports:
The Laser 210 (and Laser 110) were semi-popular machines in Sweden during some time, due to the fact that a major mail-order business, Ellos, sold them nation wide. Due to the fact that Ellos had a high price, compared to the Commodore 64, they soon lost their advantage.
The additional memory modules (16Kb and 64Kb) were big sized modules. The module had a brown plastic casing and measured 150x85x50mm. With the box of the memory module came a small screw-driver to unscrew the metal-plate on the backside of the computer, to be able to fit the memory module in place.
Other available add-ons were the joysticks, which were pretty neat. I remember them as accurate and good joysticks, but with only four switches. The fire-buttons, on the side, were nice. The joysticks looked a little bit like the Tac-2, but were a bit smaller.
One fun thing with the joysticks was that the two of them were put together on one single interface. The joystick module was much more expensive than the 16Kb memory module.
There were also other add-ons, like PP-40 printer, LP-10 Light Pen and also a disk-drive made for the Laser 310, that could work with the other Laser-machines.
Using a tape-drive for access was easy, but many times extremely frustrating. With the computer came a demo-cassette and a tape-cable. The cord had two mono-plugs (one black, one red) in one end and a stereo-plug in the other; all standard 3,5mm plugs. The red plug should be put in any tape-recorders mic-input and the black in the tape-recorders headphone output. The stereoplug was put into the computer. This made it possible to use any tape-recorder. For best result, you had to turn down the bass and turn up the discant, while fiddling with the volume. Of course, this meant that it usually took hours to just load a single game of Circus.
The machine was used in the Soviet Union during the 1980's as a controller device of robotics in the industry. The machine was not allowed to be sold to Soviet, but it was smuggled from Hong Kong by some people who made specialized ROM:s for it (they also removed the keyboard before re-selling it). The machines were then smuggled into Soviet for re-sell. From what I know, some of the machines are still used for robotic-controlling.