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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.


Hello, I am the proud owner of 2 x Cip 03 blue and red version Romanian computers. I would like any original designs and drawings for this model to be able to restore them very close to the original / print new components, thank you, you can find me on facebook, Iacobini Ariel

Saturday 30th June 2018
Iacobini Ariel (Romania)

I was 12 years at the time when a family friend lent me a CIP-03 for the summer of 92. It was the defining moment in my life where I knew that my future would involve computers in some shape of form. Many thanks to those involved in designing it and bringing it to market. It''s amazing that it even got approved for sale by the regime at the time. I''m glad to read your stories and send you all my gratitude.

Wednesday 1st November 2017
Adrian Stancescu (Canada)

Found this post while browsing around$ I am the original designer and the project manager (from the ITC side) of commercializing this design as CIP-01 at Electronica Pipera back in 1987$ Calin Popescu was the project manager from the Electronica Pipera''s side.

It all started when during several brainstorming discussions over quite a few satisfying games of Bridge with Cristi Hera (Pupu) and Virgil Vladescu (Bombone) - graduates of IPB Automatica / Calculatoare - about the weaknesses of the FCE''s HC-85 design, I had the idea of designing an alternate Spectrum clone hardware as a fully synchronous Finite State Machine (FSM) which ran everything (Z80A CPU, shared video memory controller, and later even the PAL encoder) from a single ~18 MHz crystal and with zero CPU WAIT states - a first for that time, and which made this design be the only Sinclair Spectrum clone generating "pure" sound tones. Initially I built this design "by hand" on a 25-mil 4-layer PCB encased in a manually assembled plastic enclosure slightly smaller than the original Spectrum - 8.75 cm wide x 5.5 cm deep x 1.6 cm tall (still have one of those in my personal computing museum, happy to share pictures with anyone who asks) and sold quite a few of these in the IPB dorms around 1985-1986 before pitching the idea of commercializing this design to my team leader at ITC, Riuric Bulgacov, in mid-1987.

Riuric brilliantly positioned this as a potential "gaming accessory" to the just-released Cromatic color TV manufactured by Electronica Pipera to get it approved by the political administration of that time $ I am still amazed to this day that the project got approved by the administration, considering how strict they were in controlling the public''s access to electronic communications, typewriters, free speech, etc. Perhaps it was its classification as a "game accessory to the color TV" that made it fly under the radar?

The design of what became CIP-01 had to be adjusted for the manufacturing capabilities available at Electronica-Pipera: 50-mil 2-layer PCB technology, injection-molded ABS plastic, and "consumer electronics-grade" connectors (rather large DIN jacks, etc.) which increased the size of the PCB by a factor of 4 yielding a size of the entire device of 31.5 cm wide x 28 cm deep x 6.5 cm tall. This was quite a bit larger than the original "hand-built" prototype, but it had the advantage of a larger and much more comfortable keyboard and (potentially) better cooling for the electronics.

I still remember designing CIP-01''s first PCB layout on Electronica''s CORAL minicomputer while trying to cleverly route power and ground traces to minimize ground noise - quite a challenge in a 2-layer "consumer electronics-style" PCB layout compared with the original 4-layer "computer-style" PCB layout with dedicated power and ground planes.

Eugen Stefan (Gene) from Electronica designed an RF modulator which was included in the box as well. Marian Romascanu from ITC designed a synchronous PAL encoder - conceptually based on the Apple II NTSC design - and I programmed the super-optimized 4K Spectrum BIOS cassette loader + BASIC interpreter to go around the Sinclair Spectrum software copyright while still providing the ability to program in BASIC. The Sinclair BIOS was loadable from a cassette tape (not sold by Electronica at that time to avoid copyright issues, but widely available from friends, family, and other "hobbyists") for full compatibility with all Spectrum games. I still have a CIP-01 preproduction prototype (white) in my personal technology museum, happy to share pictures of it as well. The entire commercialization project (concept to manufacturing) of the ITC-Electronica joint venture lasted about 12 months, which would qualify as a record even today.

CIP-01 was available in consumer electronic stores everywhere in Romania starting with 1988, I still remember seeing it on display at Bucur-Obor $ right next to a Cromatic color TV.

I''m quite happy to see that the product ended up selling well and helping a lot of young Romanian people acquire a passion for computers, learn how to develop software, and increase their market value in today''s high-tech global economy.

Friday 13rd January 2017
Dan Mihai (United States)


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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