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N > NEC  > PC 8001   

PC 8001

In 1979, the NEC PC-8001 was an excellent machine, offering 8 colors when most of its competitors were still monochrome. There is even a (low) graphic resolution of 160 x 100 dots. It could display capital and small letters.

The PC-8001 had great success with Japanese businesses, where it was widely used. At the time, NEC claimed that the PC-8001 represented at least 45% of their home japanese market. This is when the PC serie from NEC and MZ serie from Sharp started competing!

The base system was 32K, but a company in Concord, CA. made a thing called the "WEDGE" that mounted below the Base system and added the needed 32K plus it had analog and digital input ports and other goodies.

The US version of the PC-8001 was named PC-8001A.


Contributors : Jeff Denno

We need more info about this console ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system, please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).

Special thanks to Lloyd Gavin who donated us this console !


The same company that made the "Wedge" also built an RGB to Color Composite Converter for this unit. I don''t remember the name of the outfit but the Wedge was a brilliant bit of technology.

Thursday 7th July 2011
Chris @LA (Los Angeles)

The information here is incomplete. Aside from the Wedge which was sold by a third party, NEC itself sold a number of addon units. The 32k RAM keyboard-shaped PC-8001A was the main micro computer, with everything built into the keyboard case $ a design similar to the Commodore 64 or he Atari 400 or 800 or Atari ST. But NEC also made and sold the PC-8031A mini disk unit, which allowed up to four half-height floppy disc drives to be installed. These were DSDD drives with 360K capacity each, so by installing 4, you got an instant storage capacity of up to 1.44 megs on drives A: and B: and C: and D:. The PC-8031A was an external beige box in which you could install the floppy drives. It had a built-in floppy drive controller and connected to the keyboard computer by a cable.

Then there was the PC-8012A I/O unit. This contained serial and parallel ports as well as a primitive analog sound I/O similar to the creative sound blaster. Again, this was a beige box that also connected to the main keyboard computer through a cable, or it could connect to the 8031A floppy drive unit via a pass-through port.

Finally, NEC sold the JC-1202DH(A) color character display, which uew the exact same chassis and cabinet and power supply as the earlier NEC green screen monochrome monitor but with color circuity. It was a simple analog monitor, no different from the Commodore or Apple color monitors. You could use any analog color monitor with this computer. As with the C64 or the Apple $$+, the color monitors were interchangeable.

NEC also sold its own particular brand of dot matrix printer with this computer. It used a standard Centronics (today we call it a parallel) port. You had to have the 8031A drive unit to load drivers for the NEC printer and run the software. I''m not sure whether the I/O unit came with an extra 32K of RAM on a board inside the beige box, but I think so. If memory serves, this thing ran Wordstar and the NEC printer was EPSON-compatible, so you could use EPSON printer drivers and output the usual graphics + text using escape and control characters to produce primitive block graphics.

This unit was very impressive for its time. It cost a lot for all 3 units $ you stacked the two beige boxes up on top of one another and put the NEC monitor on top of those, then hooked them up via cable to the keyboard computer and hung the dot matrix printer (and a Hayes serial modem if you wanted) off the back of the I/O module. But if you paid the money and set it all up, you had a very fully functional machine that could connect to a BBS at 300 baud, print out properly formatted documented using standard dot matrix graphics + text, play 8-bit sounds, and you had many of the same capabilities of the later EGA monitors with a variety of different colors. The disk drives were particularly good. They didn''t go bad, unlike the full-height Tandon drives on earlier computers like the Kaypro II or the TRS-80. Those full-height 48 TPI Tandons used in earlier computers were notorious for drifting out of alignment, but the 96 TPI DSDD NEC floppy drives never went bad. If you find one of these units with the floppy drive module in storage and fire it up, chances are it will still boot and work.

Saturday 21st August 2010
mcl (United States of Amnesia)

I sold these very successfully in the 80's. The base system was 32K, but a company in Concord, CA. made a thing called the "WEDGE" that mounted below the Base system and added the needed 32K plus it had analog and digital input ports and other goodies.

This was a TANK of a PC. I have a few of them and I would bet that they still work.

We even added a 7MB hard drive (wow!) It was loud, slow and expensive, but 7 MEGABYTES!!!!

Friday 25th July 2008
Jef Denno (USA)


NAME  PC 8001
YEAR  1979
CONTROLLERS  Full-stroke keyboard with numeric keypad, 5 function keys, JIS standard layout
CPU  uPD 780c-1 (compatible with Z80)
CO-PROCESSOR  ěPD3301D (CRT controller), ěPD8257C-5 (DMA controller)
RAM  16 KB (upgradable to 32 KB and 64 KB)
ROM  24 KB
TEXT MODES  36x20, 36x25, 40x20, 40x25, 72x20, 72x25, 80x20, 80x25
GRAPHIC MODES  160 x 100 (320 x 200 in option)
SOUND  Built-in beeper
SIZE / WEIGHT  440 x 265 x 80 mm / 4 Kg
I/O PORTS  Centronics, RS232c, IEEE 488 (optional), cassette interface (600 baud)
MEDIA  One or two 5.25'' disk-drives (PC-8031)
POWER SUPPLY  AC100V±10% 50/60Hz, 20w
PERIPHERALS  Fixed expansion unit with dual 5'' 163 KB FDD, extra 32 KB of RAM, 2 x RS232C, IEEE488 and Parallel interfaces
PRICE  168,000 yens (Japan, 1979)

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