This Australian computer was in fact built and conceived in Hong Kong by Soundic Electronics, which produced a lot of low-end products at that time.
The high-resolution (256 x 192) can only be accessed with at least a 16k RAM extension.
The Basic (SD-Basic 2.0) is supplied on a ROM cartridge, it allowed to display up to 32 sprites.
The Pencil II also came with an interesting expansion cartridge. The regular cartridge port was the exact same size as a Colecovision cartridge, and when you plugged the "Colecvision Support" cartridge into the side of the unit, it played regular Colecvision games.
Unfortunately, very few games and applications were developped and the Pencil II quickly fell into oblivion...
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Warm memories for me too!
For a strange dream that I had tonight, I remembered the "Hanimex" brand of my very first microcomputer. So I just Googled it to find again the "Pencil II" name that I totally forgot since many years. For this reason I''m here now in June 2020 writing about it.
This Pencil II has been my first computer purchased by my dear parents when I had only 11 years near 1984. At that time some of my friends had the great ZX80 and I remember going to their home after school to play and learn programming with Basic and Logo languages. My family and I were living in France and unfortunately, ZX80 price was too expensive for my parents. Anyhow, my mom and dad clearly understood that such "machines" were an important investment for my future. So in a local French computer show, they saw this Pencil II by Hanimex in a stand at a more affordable price, so they decided to purchase it for me. It was still a big investment for my poor family at that time, but still less than the more expensive Sinclair model.
In the next couple of years I used this microcomputer almost 2 or 3 hours per day at home, connected to the TV after homework. As there were almost no programmes and specially no friends with same machine, I had to programm my own small games and some basic software tools with its BASIC cartridge. The hardware was really limited, specially the RAM, so I had to spare all my pocket money to purchase a huge lateral 16KB expansion in order to take more advantage of it. And also a cassette player to save my programms on tapes. I still remember that the machine design was really nice with a robust manufacture. Its keyboard with soft plastic keys was not so uncomfortable as it could seem on pictures, although for sure nothing similar to a good PC keyboard. The graphics were basic (low resolution with support for some few sprites) but I remember that sound capabilities were pretty nice at that time.
The machine was very limited and after a while it was quite complex to get much more of it. Specially because at that time there was no fan communities to exchange information as the device did not have commercial success in France and unfortunately Internet still did not exist. Anyhow I still remember to have enjoyed it a lot. And for sure this was my first step in the wonderful software world that today is paying my bills, so I will be always very grateful to my parents for having me purchased this nice Pencil II by Hanimex.
PD: some years ago, my mom did a last cleaning of old "junks" that were in my room and this great computer memory finished in the recycling trash... yes, really sad... although it''s only hardware and nothing comparable to the pleasant memories that I still have of that old times and that hopefully will still remain in my biological memory until my own recycling time.
Friday 5th June 2020
I had one of these computers back in 1984. I learned BASIC programming which set me up for what was to come. I owe my current level of computer and software literacy, especially with MS Excel, to the Pencil II computer. It did come with some very basic programmes and games, the BASIC programming for which, were so large, that the running speed was excruciatingly slow and they were virtually unusable.
I managed to write a few flying/bombing type games which ran a lot faster than those originally supplied. I also wrote a few display type programmes, one of which was for the local radio station. The Pencil II really was pretty good for that.
Where these cassette tapes are now, is anybody''s guess. Pleasant memories of a time when things were good.
Wednesday 2nd May 2012
Peter Byrnes (Australia)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
SD-Basic 2.0 available on cartridge
Chicklet keyboard with 6 function keys, 4 arrow keys and a reset key
Zilog Z80 A
One custom chip for video, sound, I/O and memory management