- Enterprise (computer)
Released = 1985
Discontinued = 198?
Processor = Zilog Z80A @ 4 MHz
Memory = 64KB / 128KB
OS = EXOS BASIC
The Enterprise is a
Zilog Z80based home computerfirst released in 1985.There were two variants, theEnterprise 64 with 64 kB of RAM, and theEnterprise 128 with 128 kB.The machine was also known by the names "DPC", "Samurai","Oscar", "Elan" and "Flan"before the "Enterprise" name was finallychosen. [http://www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/scripts/picshow.php?
The machine had a Z80 CPU running at 4 MHz, 64 kB or 128 kB of RAM and 48 kB of ROM containing the
EXOSoperating system and BASIC. The case was unique for the time (in the UK at least) for containing both a full-sized membrane keyboardwith programmable function keys, and a joystick.
The machine was specifically engineered for games, with a 672×256
pixeldisplay and 256 colours per pixel (one byteper pixel being particularly easy to program). Sound was 4 channels, stereo. A graphics coprocessorcalled "Nick" and sound coprocessor called "Dave" (named after the designers Nick Toop, who had previously worked on the Acorn Atom, and Dave Woodfield) took the load off the central processor.
The machine came with a surprising array of connectors, far beyond what was common on home computers of thetime. There was an
RGBoutput, RS232/ RS432serial port, a Centronicsprinter port, two externaljoystick ports, a cassette interface, a ROM cartridge slot "and" an ordinary expansion port. (To save money, however, the connectors on the rear did not come with sockets. They simply exposed traces on the edge of the printed circuit board).
The BASIC ROM could even be replaced by a ROM which could emulate a
ZX Spectrum, thus in theory allowingthe Enterprise to run the existing catalogue of thousands of Spectrum games. Later, an external floppy drivebecame available, supporting CP/Mprograms.
Despite being particularly powerful for the time, the machine was not a commercial success. The
Amstrad CPC 464was released before the Enterprise, was less powerful, but included a monitor and cassette recorder, and retailed for less. The CPC in fact had a strikingly similar colour scheme to the Enterprise, and it may be that Amstradboss Alan Sugarhad seen a prototype.
After the initial manufacturing run of 80,000 units it is not believed that any further units were made, makingthe Enterprise an extraordinarily collectible item in Europe. When Enterprise (the company) was wound up inEurope, 20,000 units were shipped to Hungary where it appears a strong user community formed. [ [http://www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/Museum/Enterprise/enterprise.php Binary Dinosaurs - Location Change! ] ]
After the home computer market in the UK took off with the launch of the Sinclair
ZX Spectrumin 1982, a Hong Kongtrading company called Locumalsdecided to commission Intelligent Softwarein the UK to develop a home computer. The head of Intelligent Software was David Levy, an international chessplayer.
During development the machine had the codename "DPC", standing for
damp-proof course, to throw off potential competitors in case anyone left the development plans on a bus [http://www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/scripts/picshow.php?
Amstrad's AMSOFT, Entersoftwas set up to ensure a steady supply of software for the new machine.
Although the machine was announced to the press in September
1983, it did not go on sale until April 1984, at which point some 80,000 machines were pre-ordered. Unfortunately machines did not ship until 1985, by which point the competitive environment was much worse for Enterprise, as the UK home computer market had become dominated by the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and Acorn BBC.
A successor machine, the
PW360, was developed in 1986to compete directly against the Amstrad PCW 8256, but by this time the company was in severe financial difficulties and went under.
(Source: [http://www.mumm.ac.be/~cammejpm/enterprise/saga.html] )
Enterprise emulators for PC
* [http://enterpriseforever.org Enterprise Forever forum]
* [http://ep128.hu Hungarian page about Enterprise]
* [http://forum.index.hu/Article/showArticle?t=9010641 Hungarian Enterprise forum]
* [http://www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/Museum/Enterprise/ep64/index.php Photographs of the Enterprise machines]
* [http://www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/Museum/Enterprise/index.php Further history of the Enterprise]
* [http://www.zock.com/8-Bit/D_Enterprise64.HTML The German version was apparently called Mephisto PHC 64]
* [http://alive.atari.org/alive13/e64game.php e64 revisited] - a game-oriented history of the Enterprise
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