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Vtech laser 200

The meaning of «vtech laser 200»

The VTech Laser 200 was an early 8-bit home computer from 1983, also sold as the Salora Fellow (mainly in Fennoscandia, particularly Finland), the Seltron 200 in Hungary and Italy, the Smart-Alec Jr. by Dynasty Computer Corporation in Dallas, Texas for the USA, the Texet TX8000A (in the United Kingdom), and the Dick Smith VZ 200 (in Australia and New Zealand) and the VTech VZ 200 (in the United States and Canada).

Video Technology manufactured calculators and LCD pad game toys (similar to Nintendo Game & Watch) at a rather claustrophobic multi-storey factory in Hong Kong. The VZ200 is a development of an earlier monochrome TRS-80 copy, and is similar to the EACA Colour Genie and the Mattel Aquarius.

The machine ran basic games on cassette such as Hoppy (a version of Frogger), Cosmic Rescue (Scramble), VZ Invaders (Space Invaders), Dawn Patrol (Chopper) and Moon Patrol. The Laser 200/210 and VZ200 computers were discontinued in 1985 being replaced by the Laser 310 and VZ300 computers.

The VZ200 had little impact in the UK where it sold at a similar price to the 16 kB Sinclair Spectrum and in USA where a Timex TS1000 could be bought for $30. It gained a measurable following in other countries where it was supported by the distributor and where Sinclair Research was too disorganised to have any impact.

It gained some following in northern continental America and Europe. Due to Dick Smith Electronics extensive advertising throughout Australia and New Zealand, the computer gained large popularity. In Australia it was bought mostly to learn programming; the only other widely available systems being the Commodore 64, whose BASIC is crude and slow, and the much more expensive Amstrad CPC.

At its UK launch, Texet claimed that the £98 (equivalent to £333 in 2019) TX8000-branded version was the cheapest colour home microcomputer on the market. However, this was not enough to ensure its success against the dominant ZX Spectrum and similar machines already on sale.[2]

The "Dick Smith"-badged VZ 200 was more successful in Australia, where it proved popular as a first computer.[3] By 1984, a Dick Smith Electronics catalogue announced that over 30,000 units had sold within the first 12 months.

An improved version known as the VTech Laser 310, or the Dick Smith VZ 300 featured a full travel keyboard and 8K ROM software based Floppy Disk Controller, was released in 1985 and continued until 1989.[4]

The VZ200 has three circuit boards, the video board and voltage regulator being separate to the main board.

Externally, the VZ200 resembles a cross between the Commodore Vic 20 (whose name it closely resembles) and the Sinclair Spectrum. The VZ200 features the one touch command keys of the Spectrum, but unlike the Sinclair machines, their use was not mandatory.

Internally, the VZ200 is a workalike of the Tandy TRS-80 Model I. The micro uses the same basic architecture, but TRS-80 programs cannot be loaded and only simple TRS-80 BASIC programs can be entered as it has a different memory map and some commands in BASIC are absent and can only be substituted by significant alterations in program algorithms, so it cannot be considered a true clone.

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