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X > XEROX  > 820   


The Model 820 is an attempt from Rank Xerox to enter the professional micro-computer market. But the 820 is a bit weak with its Z80 at only 2,5 Mhz and its 96kb 5''1/4 disk-drives (83k formated). Fortunately higher capacity 8'' disk-drives were also available (300 kb each). Apparently a 10Mb hard-disk was also proposed.

The communication was focused on the fact that the Xerox 820 could suit to a lot of professions, and indeed, thanks to its CP/M compatibility a lot of different software was available (Wordprocessor, Supercalc, AGIS billing, SAARI, Wordstar 3.0, Mailmerge 3.0, Supersort 1.6, Calcstar, Infostar 1.0, FIGARO hair-dresser management, etc...).

The Xerox 820 was followed by the Xerox 820-II.


Greg Eshelman reports us these tips :
Here is a tip. Most of the drive boxes with single sided drives used a cable with fewer wires than the ones with double sided drives. All you need to do is carefully move one of the ground wires at both ends of the cable to the side select pin location and you can swap in a pair of ordinary TEAC or Tandon 360k drives. :) For the end that plugs into the 820 you need a special tool for removing and inserting the pins. A tiny screwdriver works on the other connectors, you have to do it on both of the drive connectors.

One "bug" with the 820 series is it cannot tell if the drives are single or double sided and will blindly "format" double sided in a single sided drive. This works until you try to put too much on a disk then it messes up and you lose everything on the disk!

Steve Bolingbroke reports:
Xerox had a proprietory operating system from a previous computer (mini ?) range , called M80 (?). I was part of project team that ported the old O/S to the 820 so that it dual booted and could run business apps writen for the previous range. We got it to work exactly the same except the command lines (reserved bottom two lines of the screen) had a dark stripe between them. We called it the "Go Faster Stripe".

Bill adds:
The 820 was compatible with the APPLE II Pascal format. I worked for Xerox from 82 thru 93 and had an 820 on my desk. We took the Turbo Pascal binary from the Apple II and download it via Xmodem to the 820 and it ran very well. We wrote a early BBS with this environment.

Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).

Special thanks to Beverly Brown who donated us this computer !


The idea behind this computer seems solid even if very conservative. A well build and set up CP/M box was a popular idea. But for the price tag the deal was not so hot. You could get a Transportable from Osborne or later Kaypro for cheaper and often have a faster CPU as a great bonus (2.5 vs 4 MHz Z-80). Basing it on the hobbyist "Big Board" was them being cheap and lazy because they sure as hell did not charge a "hobbyist price". Even a "good" system can fail miserably when so much better is around for better prices.

Sunday 7th August 2022
Larry Sh. (USA)

Mr. Bla Bla Bla
The 820 mother board went into the surplus market after its failure.
It was based on the Fergie board and had a large following in the aftermarket.
Some were sold fully populated and some as a bare board.
Mine had a SCSI controller by Emerald Microware (two 5 Meg drives)
A floppy controller daughter board (2-5 ¼” and 2- 8” high density floppies).
We also put in higher clock speed main chips to speed it up.
I was saving up for a ram board, when I sold it to someone developing hard ware on the Z80 platform.

Wednesday 3rd June 2020
Ed Hase (US)

Bla Bla Bla, My daddy worked for Xerox and I learned DIR...
This is the most plain generic unimaginative piece of space junk Xerox ever produced.

Shame on them! They invented the Alto!

Thursday 24th November 2016
Bla Bla Bla My daddy worked for Xerox...


NAME  820
TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  1981
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  Basic 80 delivered on disk
KEYBOARD  AZERTY/QWERTY, full-stroke keyboard with separated keyboard
CPU  Zilog Z80 A
SPEED  2,5 Mhz
RAM  64 kb
ROM  from 4 kb to 8 kb
TEXT MODES  80 x 24
COLORS  Black and white 12'' monitor
SOUND  Unknown
SIZE / WEIGHT  Main unit/monitor : 32,8 x 38,1 x 34,3 cm / 13,6 kg
I/O PORTS  Serial 9600 bauds, Internal Expansion Slot, External Floppy Connector
BUILT IN MEDIA  One or two 5.25'' disk-drives (80 KB formatted each)
One or two 8'' disk-drives (160KB each)
OS  CP/ M 2.2
PERIPHERALS  Printers, additional disks
PRICE  With double 8'' disks = 3900 (France, 82)

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