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S > SHARP  > MZ 80K   

MZ 80K

The MZ-80K was, alongside the Apple II, the Commodore PET and the Tandy TRS 80’s one of the best known computer in the early 80's. Its name stands for "M" from MICRO and Z-80 from the computer it uses.

It has no language in ROM, and BASIC has to be loaded from tape. Sharp called this "clean design", as you could choose what you wanted to put in your computer, the MZ-80K being delivered clean... Though a 5.25" floppy disk unit was later available, most people never used anything else than the built-in tape recorder (1200 bps).

There is no colour, no high resolution and characters sets can't be redefined. But the pre-defined characters set was very complete offering a lot of different graphical symbols, and people (mainly japanese) created great games, overcoming the main flaw of the MZ-80 serie... A graphic card was later designed for this computer, allowing to redefine the characters set resulting in a virtual "high resolution" of 320 x 192 pixels.

The MZ-80K is equiped with a real clock and a built-in speaker.

First MZ-80K were sold in Japan as assembly kits (1978). In 1980, Sharp released the MZ-80K2 which is basicaly a MZ-80K with 32 KB RAM, a non-reflective keyboard and and a volume control at the rear of the system. One year later, a cost reduced version, the MZ-80K2e, was marketed as an anniversay model when MZ serie sales reached one hundred thousand machines.

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My first proper computer. Built like a tank (well compared to the Sinclair ZX80). Felt like I could roll it down stairs and it would still work. Came with a booklet listing the ROM. You could follow step by step through the code and see how it read commands from the keyboard, displayed characters on the screen and loaded data from the tape drive. I learnt Z80 assembler programming on it. I also learnt Pascal using a neat little compiler from a company in Swindon I cannot remember the name of. You could inspect the compiler output to see how it implemented loops, subroutine calls, etc. This computer opened up possibilities to me that I hadn''t even dreamt of before. Two years later I had an MSc degree in Computing. Exciting times.

Saturday 28th January 2023
Tristram Brelstaff (UK)

I am sitting in my office coding in .net and the like, and on my right is my Sharp MZ-80K that started it all! And it has a hi-res graphics card :-o

Like others, it was my first computer. My dad bought it for me, as I was a sickly child with really bad asthma and eczema and he thought that an active life-style wouldn’t be an option (he was wrong by the way).

I remember the Orange BASIC book that came with it, which I trawled through again and again to learn how to use this new machine. There was a TRON light-cycle like game in there over several pages called something like “Mr Smith and Mr Jones”, which I laboriously typed in with 1 finger. I remember being very upset when I accidentally cleared the screen and I thought I’d lost it all. That’s when I discovered the LIST command :-)

Friday 8th March 2013
Chris Mottram (Swadlincote UK)

Though it looked like a Norse ship it was in fact meant to represent the Argo and thus a voyage of discovery.

If one sees the MZ80K M/C or Assembler Manuals the ship is larger and the figures on it can be seen to be Greek, also it is accompanied by a map indicating

oh and what''s this just beneath the Argo


Tuesday 3rd March 2009
yowl (UK)


TYPE  Home Computer
YEAR  1979
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  Sharp Basic available on tape
KEYBOARD  Strange transparent square keys. 78 keys. Numeric keypad
CPU  Sharp LH-0080 (Zilog Z80 A compatible)
RAM  20 KB (up to 48 KB)
MZ-80K2 & K2e: 32 KB
TEXT MODES  40 x 25 (8 x 8 character matrix)
COLORS  built-in 10'' black & white monochrome monitor
SOUND  one channel
SIZE / WEIGHT  410 (W) x 470 (D) x 270 (H) mm / 13 kg
I/O PORTS  Expansion bus
BUILT IN MEDIA  Tape recorder
PERIPHERALS  RAM expansions, printer, Floppy drives unit, color display
PRICE  MZ-80K: 198,000 yen (1978, japan)
MZ-80K2: 198,000 yen (1980, japan)
MZ-80K2e: 148,000 yen (1981, japan)

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