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N > NEC  > APC


This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the NEC  APC computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message! For other purposes like sales messages, hardware & software questions or information requests, please use our main forum.

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Tuesday 21st June 2016
Nicholas Downing (Australia)

I have the 128K colour dual floppy model, text only although you could load up to 256 custom characters into the CGRAM which could be used as a rudimentary graphics facility, my dad bought this mainly for word processing and business but although it moved between his factory/office and home at times it was mainly used as our family computer, effectively my personal hobby machine and I loved it. My friends had Commodore 64s, PETs, Dick Smith VZ200 and the like, I was jealous of their graphics and sound capabilities but on the whole I liked having a solid business machine running a good BASIC (we used MSDOS 2.11 with MS Basic-86 interpreter, I also dabbled with the compiler from time to time). I was not that competent in assembly language and the 7220 datasheet was gobbledegook to me at the time but I was always keen to try to switch the text card into graphics mode or obtain the graphics card for it. If anybody has such a card and could post to Australia for a nominal fee I would love to try it out. Our machine had a minor fault which was probably temperature related but would only occur occasionally, however any replacement CPU card, etc, would also be more than welcome, as would any well known software since we had basically no software for the machine except what we ported ourselves, the main app we used was "Spellbinder" word processor running on a daisywheel that my father had rescued from scrap and fitted with a serial interface, he then created font tables etc for Spellbinder. Very awesome.

Sunday 20th March 2016
Chris (New Jersey)

I had 2 of these, both gone, but still have all the cards, except for the CPU card. I even have the aftermarket Butler Flats Associates card that connects the machine to 5 1/4" disk drives. The s/w I never took the opportunity to archive, and sadly is unobtainium. If anyone has the drivers for this board, and/or the cpu card, please contact me. indiscreetlogic at yahoo dot calm

Wednesday 18th February 2015
Brian Empey, P.Eng.  (Canada)

please correct the OS information on the NEC APC.
These computers initially only came with the UCSD P-System
Then later (in 1981) CPM-86 was added.
Then (after the IBM PC existed) MS-DOS was eventually ported.

I wrote almost a million lines of Pascal code for a complete CADD system that successfully competed against AutoCAD at the time. It was called "Arthur"

The color graphics board came with 512k bytes of RAM, as 3 banks of RGB 1024x1024 pixels (128k per color plane) plus 128k general RAM.
Plus 768k main memory.
Plus a monochrome video (text) card also running an NEC uPD-7220 chip, but running in text mode.

In Canada, fully loaded (dual 8" floppies, 1-1/4 Megs of RAM, but without the math co-processor or HD) they cost $8,500 each. That was 1981.

Saturday 27th December 2014
Terry (AU)

I have a few 5 1/4 and 8 " disks from various systems including the NEC APC''s DOS and CP/M with OK and other programs.
They were great as was the Canon CX3 range etc

Friday 8th February 2013
Ron Potter (Manchester WA / USA)
Abacus North

For awhile the NEC Advanced Personal Computer was the featured player in our business by virtue of being one of the first systems to do a good job with Autodesk''s AutoCAD. In fact, we thought it was the best solution at the time when it becamet available, and so did Autodesk.

We set up the first architect in Anchorage Alaska with CAD, and did a bit of business with engineers, but mostly they were stuck with their DEC and other minis. We got out of it when Autodesk demanded we put an architect or engineer on our sales force just as the construction market collapsed in Anchorage.

I agree with negative comments about NEC''s marketing. I had lunch once with their US CEO, and told him that what they were doing with the APC was clueless, and he seemed to listen well, but nothing changed and the world moved on leaving NEC a mere footnote and it soon abandoned sales of PCs in the US. Guess they couldn''t get their mind off their super computers to pay attention to this low end market. That was the feeling I had.

You can see my old NEC APC/AutoDesk showroom at my website for the now closed Abacus North,

Kind of wish my budget and circumstance had allowed me to keep one. I loved the old heavy beast.

Keep on Remembering to Remember all the great bits about the early days of PCs.

Saturday 1st January 2011
teigan annsaint (california)

i have one of these with the color graphics card. by the time i inherited it, there was no software to be bought anywhere. the original ucsd pascal discs worked, but that was painfully inefficient and slow. i managed to write a few simple graphics demos in assembly language, which proved how inept the geniuses at ucsd were. were all the available graphics apps as slow as the pascal compiler? i''m currently on a hunt for the CNC milling software.

Monday 15th November 2010
Philip Haynes (Australia)

This PC also used UCSD p-System (which wasn''t very good).

Of notability (in Australia) was it''s scientific word processor - OK editor (completely written in assembler). To this day it is still the best editor for scientific publications that I have used.

In Australia some very clever chappies whose name I cannot remember developed high performance graphics software with a very early version of TurboPascal.
With this and the graphics card you had high resolution (two page) graphics.

It wasn''t till I got my Silicon Graphic''s personal Iris in 88 did I have a better machine.

Monday 7th June 2010
Stephen (New Zealand)

Hi, I actually have one of these with the monochrome screen. It still goes and the disk drives spin when I put a disk in, but sadly I have no operating disk, just sixty odd disks containing some old data by the looks of them, and perhaps one or two programs.

Wednesday 9th July 2008
Mark Chandler (New York, NY)

Comments from a NASA/GISS senior scientists regarding the NEC APC:
The NEC APC used Intel's newest 8086 chip, a 16-bit processor at 4.3 MHz. In most of our APC's we later added a NEC graphics board and an 8087 coprocessor for mathematical calculations. I wrote subroutines in 8086 assembly language to drive the APC's graphics board. We made latitude-longitude color plots and contour plots. [We also used a] tripod and Nikon camera and shot color slides from the APC screen; I still have some in my desk drawer. Later, Bob S. and I wrote software to drive an early IBM color ink jet printer from the APC.

Tuesday 8th July 2008
Mark Chandler (New York, NY, USA)

Most of the top scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies had these computers on their desks throughout the 1980's for imaging and analysis of global climate model output (the climate simulations were run on IBM mainframes). Much of the climate model development as well as the analyses of early global warming studies that were done by Jim Hansen and his research group at NASA relied on these computers. The graphics software AND specialized text editors for dealing with the massive volume of Fortran GCM code were written in-house for these NEC APCs. I used them as a graduate student in the late 1980s while at NASA/GISS and there were still working APCs around GISS until about 2000 (but no more).

Thursday 19th June 2008
Terry Payne (Australia)

I worked on these (in Perth, Australia) and still have 8" disks for MS dos 2.11 and CP/m 86 with sundry programs including OKwriter(?) a scientific word processor. Don't know if the disks still work though! Was a great system at the time. Like the Canon CX3 (also have disks) not appreciated at the time as the XT swept all before it.

Tuesday 13rd November 2007
Mark Brindle (Earth)

I had one of these and loved it. I wrote and sold a graphics library (written in Turbo Pascal), a character generator (remember the characters were all programable) as well as an accounting system.

I still have copies at home for my software but no way of reading them as the machine died almost 10years ago.

Brings back lots of great memories!!!!

Wednesday 2nd March 2005
Mark Creery (USA)

I owned one of these (or maybe an earlier NEC APC). We ordered it with 8" diskette drives allowing us to port older CPM programs for work in IBM PC's. It also had a nice feature that allowed you to power it on and off on a schedule.

Monday 28th February 2005
Athelwulf (Australia)

Hi, there, I just received one of these from a kind gentleman. I am having trouble booting it past the initial [*] which is displayed upon power on (an error message of sort?). Am I missing something obvious or is the machine dead. Thanks in advance.

Thursday 22nd July 2004
Herb Johnson (USA)

In July 2004 I acquired one of these, with color screen. Mine is yellow, and was apparently used with a Bridgeport milling machine, probably for ancient CNC (numeric control). No software, anyone have an 8" boot disk? I believe there are some CP/M GSX drivers around for this beast...

Wednesday 31st March 2004
Brian Reid (USA)

I once had a pair of these, with software for them piled high.. autocad, infocom works, public domain disks, etc... Eventually the power supply on the single floppy model blew out, and I kept the other alive (it had a failing floppy drive) with the parts from the old one. At the time I was very curious about them and decided one day to put both CPU/memory cards in one machine and it failed to start up. Leafing through the manuals included with it, I found that by flipping a few dipswitches on one board you could alter the memory addresses and give it more than the 640k it came with (though no program could actually access it, both cpus did work and make it slightly faster). I am still a fan of infocom! I do so miss the lights dimming too and the loud hum as it geared up. The internal debugger was also a hoot, pull the rubber plug out of the keyboard and hit the button inside and wa-lah, a debugger right there at your fingertips.

Wednesday 2nd July 2003
mike lewandowski (work)

Is there any body out there that can repair these boxes. We have one here it work that I program the CNC machine with and i love it. But it won't boot, seems like the drives wob't go.

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