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ELECTRONICA  Electronica

Few information about this computer, a Romanian Sinclair ZX-Spectrum clone made from 1988 by Electronica CIE and sold only in Romania in blue or red case colour version. In fact, the colors only differed on the keyboard marquee, the case color being the same. On the red version the background of the keys is darker than on the blue version.

The CIP-03 had a built-in Spectrum compatible BASIC interpreter in ROM. But instead of the original Sinclair copyright text at boot, it shows simply a "BASIC S" string on the center of the bottom line on the screen.

The computer had no joystick interface built in, it could been however purchased separately (in contrast, other romanian Spectrum clones had built-in joystick port.) The keyboard had switches instead of the membrane of the original ZX Spectrum. Though it had a clumsy feeling while typing, it did not wear out easily. The computer had an internal speaker of about 0.5 watts which gave a very loud noise while loading programs, and there were no way to control the volume...

Apparently the CIP-03 is the most common of all Romanian ZX Spectrum clones.

There was another version called CIP-02 which had only 2 KB ROM containing a copy utility program. The advantage was that the RAM available for copying was 60 KB, more than enough for copying a full 48k program.

The BASIC interpreter was available on cassette tape and needed to be loaded each time the computer was powered on (but not reseted as the 0-16 KB area was protected from interrupts).


Contributors: Szász Eduárd István (info)

Calin Popescu, the designer of the CIP-03 sent us this line:
I was the engineer who led the entire process - from design to manufacture - of this Spectrum clone at Electronica Bucuresti. I think we manufactured about 15000 units until I left Romania in 1993. The production continued for a while after that but I do not have more info. I do have own one protptype.

Geroge Sauciuc from Romania adds:
The CIP-03 was used in public schools, for informatics classes. this mashine was delivery with tape recorder, external power supply unit, and with one programs tape (all Romanian programs because at this period, all programs must be made in Romania).

Liviu A. Stefanescu reports:
I am the RF designer ( electrical schematics final version after few revisions, PCB prototyping, several pilot runs, volume production) of the UHF modulator used in the HC models 85 and later. The UHF modulator was transforming the video composite signal into a TV channel signal specific to the standard D/K, usually one of the channels 25..30 , manufactured by I. Electronica was similar to the one used for computers HC85 and later HC models produced by ICE-Pipera. The modulator was a stand alone module that was being added on the Main board as needed. Some versions were not delivered with TV modulator.

We need more info about this computer ! 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.).


Hi all, I want to revive a CIP03 that has a missing crystal (CLK). What frequency should that be? Many thanks in advance. Julien

Sunday 22nd May 2022
Julien Ciura (Belgium)

Part 1/2: I started my internship at Electronica in 1983 and was tasked by the technical director Gavriliu (due to my background in mathematics) to fully elucidate analog colour processing (hence also the Telecolor decoder that was coming to market). I claim to have succeeded. Subsequently, I conceived the training courses for the technical repair staff and organised the training centre in Piatra Neamt. I then started redacting the Electronica magazine, with articles published in accordance to my vision on the explanation of electronics as a spiritual ferment. That’s why, when Gavriliu asked me (around 1987) to conceive a small boot for the CIP, I first appreciated the way the colour encoder was realised, as a combinational game of phasor trigonometry - a true lesson in the application of vectors. We were thrilled by how the syncrogenerator, starting from the clock and playing a subtle combinational game, made all the signals necessary to a TV broadcast compatible with existing sets. Finally, we stumbled on the part that simply fascinated us: the workings of the memory arbiter. We verified, incredulously at first, that it was able to use the inactive cycles of all instructions to squeeze the syncrogenerator signal that maintained spot movement and also refresh memory between the in-out CPU requests. It was real feast of ingenuity - if you were able to conceive this (I thought the schematics were borrowed from somewhere) - I congratulate you. You’ve afforded me wonderful moments. There was one big problem though. The external memory system was very sensitive to the poor quality of recording/playback heads found in regular cassette players (not everyone had access to that special Hungarian cassette player that miraculously handled the signal trains deposited on the tape, allowing the $ion of the short/unique synchronisation impulse after the long series of preparatory impulses). That was already a critical impediment to archiving/loading, but with the operating system placed on tape (as was requested, due to unresolved intellectual property issues), it was truly dramatic. That’s why we conceived a small “oscilloscope”, as part of the boot functions (among the others necessary for loading the operating system and copying), that gave a visual representation of the impulse train obtained from the cassette player - for optimal head adjustment. We focused our attention on the save/load routine, deciphering the realtime processing equations behind the Spectrum algorithm (using The Complete Spectrum ROM Disassembly - I still have it on my bookshelf, although I’m involved in completely different thing now - we had established the complete logical schematics of the Spectrum’s 16K Basic, in order to act without losing compatibility with existing games). With this occasion we saw the importance of using the Z80 in realtime (of course, in the absence of interrupts or masking them). We managed to make music by mixing threads of Fourrier decompositions, doubling/tripling densities on save/load (back then engineering was about making economies for the user - the spectacular effort of adding colour to the black-and-white signal, keeping in-band compatibility being a good example of this principle). Programming each subroutine dozens of times, managing to spare an octet each time, even using some sequences of the character table … aspics of code, $ing a “key” for commuting memory access (from 2k EPROM to the RAM where the BASIC could be loaded), we managed to stuff it all in 2k to our great delight… (we were young and playing creation). We also filed for a patent in March 1989 (I’ll try to check the result at the patent office). That covers the BOOT programming part.

Wednesday 8th December 2021
Ioan Rosca (Romania/Canada)

Part 2/2: Regarding PN (Piatra Neamt) BASIC, it contained the turbo-load function, a subroutine for mirroring the keyboard for troubleshooting (the keys were not very reliable), the possibility to use function from the 2k EPROM but most importantly the commuting of instructions in the Romanian language (with the condition of adding a plastic mask over the keyboard) to avoid encumbering children with the English language, which was essential to precocious educational use of the product. Because - and this is the key aspect - we had decided with Gavriliu on a school implementation program, starting the programming of pedagogical modules with the arithmetics textbooks that were taught back then, written by my father. All these plans came to a halt after December 22nd 1989… It caught us in the middle of programming animation libraries for LED panels (another CIP real-time usecase) and writing the Service Manual for the CIP. This was a wonderful experience. We realised, following every aspect, interrupting every pin to simulate defects and deducing behaviour - from code to screen - that we have a jewel in front of us, a logical watch, a demonstration of beauty and intelligence, an x-ray of the mind’s game. The CIP was conceived to help users in intellectual operations. But it was made in a way such that understanding it was, in itself, a school for the intellect, an extremely instructive spectacle. The behaviour, although complex, was fully intelligible - which allows the conceptor’s conscience, I believe, to thrive in dignity / noblesse / light. That’s how I explain the lingering interest for the Spectrum. The new solutions, favourable to manufacturers, efficient as instruments, are closed off to the comprehension of internal mechanisms$ pragmatically superior, they are no longer a good source of learning, inspiration, joy of thinking coherently/creatively. After physically reducing us, technology/convenience, industrialised production, will also reduce us intellectually. The kind of lesson taught by the CIP schematics are no longer possible today. Perhaps no one is left to enjoy the elegance of the mind. I wanted back then to write a book, a sort of explanatory novel, on the spectacular and instructive adventure of a journey through the CIP, followed by one through the monitor. I held an after-class with students at the Petru Rares high-school in Piatra Neamt, using the Chromatic and the CIP to show them the why and how of reasoning, abstracting and mathematics. The rest is nostalgia…

Wednesday 8th December 2021
Ioan Rosca (Romania/Canada)


TYPE  Home Computer
ORIGIN  Romania
YEAR  1988
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  Spectrum Basic interpreter
KEYBOARD  Mechanical 40 keys
CPU  MMN-80 an East European clone version of the Z80-A
SPEED  3.5 Mhz.
RAM  64 KB
ROM  16 KB (Spectrum O.S. and BASIC)
TEXT MODES  32 columns x 24 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  256 x 192 pixels
COLORS  16 (8 colours in normal or bright modes)
SOUND  Beeper (10 octaves)
SIZE / WEIGHT  32.5 (W) x 28(D) x 5.5 (H) cm.
I/O PORTS  Tape recorder, Expansion bus, Composite video, TV aerial, AC adaptor
POWER SUPPLY  External power supply unit 5V 3A Central polarity: Plus
PRICE  15000 lei (almost $500)

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