Tutor / Pyuuta
we have another obscure computer which disappeared soon after its released in
1983, killed by the succes of the Spectrum in the UK and the Commodore 64 elsewhere.
It was apparently conceived by Matsushita in 82 and produced and sold by Tomy,
the giant japanese toy manufacturer in 83. In Japan it was named "Pyuuta"
(which means "computer dude", in England it took the name of its reseller:
GrandStand Tutor and it was simply named Tomy Tutor elsewhere (USA, France,...).
mistake of Tomy is to have presented the Tutor as a toy, whereas it was a quite
good computer. In fact it's almost a TI99-4/A clone: identical CPU and Video
chip, and very similar integrated languages...
The CPU is the TMS 9995NL from Texas Instrument and runs at 3Mhz, it's a 16-bit,
just like the TMS-9995 which uses the TI99-4/A. Do you imagine that ? A 16-bit
sold as a toy in 83 !!
video chip is the TMS 9918ANL still from Texas Instrument. It is the same that
powered the TI-99/8. Its earlier relative, the TMS 9918A, powered among others
the Coleco Adam, the Sord, the MSX and, of course, the TI 99-4 series.
This chip allows to mix text and graphics at 256x192 with 16 colours and 2 colours
at the same time per 8 pixels line. It also can handle four uni-colour sprites.
The graphic possibilities are so cool, that there's an integrated paint program:
Tomy Paint screenshot
For the sound,
it's again identical to the TI99-4/A: 3 voices with 8 octaves, 2 for the music
and one for the noise.
Concerning the languages, there are two built-in Basic ! The first one is the
GBasic and is quite boorish. It is the only way to access high resolution graphics
and to use the sprites. There is the same type of thing on the TI-99 with the
The first machines were sold only with the Gbasic, but as first reviewers complained,
Tomy added a second language: the Tomy Basic. Thus, only the first models have
only the Gbasic.
So just like the TI-99 ROM BASIC wich is also an extended Basic, there is no
way to access extended functions of the system (high resolution graphics, sprites,
etc.) with the Tomy Basic. But unlike the ROM BASIC which is first interprated
by the GPL, the TOMY BASIC interpreter is fully in assembly. This is why, compared
to the TI-99, the Tomy Tutor is far more efficient in speed.
keyboard is shit but I love it ! 56 rubber touchless keys with weird positionning
et uncommon functions. And above all...a big pink space bar ! I just love that...
CONNECTIONS AND EXTENSIONS
the rear of the beast one can find audio/video outputs, a RF plug for television
sets, an Atari type joystick port but not compatible, a 5-pin DIN connector
to tape recorder and an I/O port in order to connect a diskdrive, a vocal synthesizer,
a printer or a 48k RAM expansion pack. These extensions were announced and produced
at least one item of each since I've found a picture
of them, but there were maybe never sold...to be confirmed.
There's also a cartridge port quite identical to the VIC-20 one, and a few games
were producted on carts. The power supply unit is integrated into the machine,
good computer which is finaly quite close to the TI-99, with a worse keyboard
but also a far more faster Basic.
Tomy Tutor is quite rare and is a great find for collectors !
the same time, Tomy released only in Japan, a videogame version of the Tutor,
the Tomy Pyuuta Jr.
And the year after (84), they released a second version of the Tutor: the Pyuuta
Mk2, with a better keyboard.