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Elf II

The Netronics ELF II was an early microcomputer trainer kit featuring the RCA 1802 microprocessor, 256 bytes of RAM, DMA-based bitmap graphics, hexadecimal keypad, two digit hexadecimal LED display, a single "Q" LED, and 5 expansion slots. The system was developed and sold by Netronics Research and Development Limited in New Milford, CT, USA.

Unlike similar "bare circuit card" trainer/experimenter computers of the day, the ELF II could be easily expanded thanks to its built-in bus.

Memory mapped TV graphics was provided in the base kit by the CDP1861 "Pixie-Graphics" chip. Pixels were large. With unexpanded 256 byte memory, the interrupt routine needed to service the chip showed on the screen.

The "Full BASIC" ROM card provided an RPN calculator chip as a simple and low-cost math coprocessor. As a result, floating point operations were an order of magnitude faster than what was possible in software. However, the BASIC syntax for math was non-standard as it used postfix RPN. Historically, this was also the heyday of Hewlett-Packard calculators, so it was a fair bet that any technically minded person willing to assemble a computer either already knew RPN or could easily learn it and adapt.

The ELF part of the name came from an earlier machine called the "COSMAC ELF", published as a construction project in Popular Electronics magazine. Improvements on its predecessor included an etched PCB, a hexadecimal keypad instead of toggle switches for program entry, the RCA CDP1861 Pixie-graphics chip, and the 5 slot 86-line bus for expansion cards.

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TYPE  Home Computer
YEAR  1978
KEYBOARD  17 full-stroke keys + RUN, LOAD & M/P switches
CPU  RCA Cosmac 1802
SPEED  1.76 MHz
CO-PROCESSOR  1861 video chip
RAM  256 bytes, expandable to 64 Kb
TEXT MODES  2 x 7-segment led display
I/O PORTS  5 slot expansion bus, video output, cassette tape interface
POWER SUPPLY  external power supply needed
PRICE  £99.95 (UK, feb.1979)

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Pixel Deer
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