Compucolor II and CUVIC
In the 1970’s I watched the development of the micro processer and personal computers in magazines such as Popular Science, Mechanics Illustrated and Electronics Australia.
In 1979 I managed to convince the “Treasurer” of our household that these machines were going to change the world and that our children, who were aged 15, 13 and 12 at the time and I should be exposed to this technology. With her permission I purchased a Compucolor II Model 5 computer (32k of RAM) and extended keyboard. The package cost $2500 which was a hell of lot of money for us in those days.
I choose the CC II rather than the TRS80 and the Apple II because it came as a single unit with a 33cm colour monitor, a 5¼ inch disc drive (51Kb per side) and BASIC and File Control System in ROM. It was fitted with an Intel 8080A CPU, 16k of ROM, a 50 pin bus connector and an RS232 port. Blank formatted discs cost $9.95 for two and CCII program discs sold for $19.95. We also purchased an Epson MX80 printer.
My personal interests were to learn how to program in BASIC and get access to word processing, database and spreadsheet programs. I wanted our children to learn how to use a computer; to understand how they worked and how to use the programs. Games were not a high priority but they were a means to get the children involved. In fact the real game was to write a program that would work and then work out how to improve it.
Data entry and controls were restricted to the keyboard and almost without exception the arrow keys or the numeric keypad were used for directional control. In two player games the W, A, S and Z keys were used for the left player movement control.
The sampler disc came with One Armed Bandit (slot machine sim), Concentration (memory game) and Hangman. We purchased a few games discs which included Othello, Chess, Acey Duecy, Shoot, Tic Tac Toe, Blackjack, Pong, Tanks, Backgammon, Flight Sim, Lunar Lander, Adventure, Solo, etc.
We eventually had quite a large collection of all types of games including card games, adventure type games, simulations, etc. I purchased a word processor and database program but they still had a long way to go to equal the programs we use today.
I soon joined the Victorian CCII user group (CUVIC) that was started in 1980 by Neil Brandie, a computer store owner in High St, Windsor. We met once a month above his shop. This was a great help as there were many talented programmers and electronic boffins in the group to help solve your problems. My son and I attended the meetings and we learnt a lot, including how to program in assembler language. I ended up as Secretary/Treasurer of CUVIC which continued until 1987 when most of the members had moved on to new and more interesting machines. I purchased an Amiga.
Was it worth it? I think so. My son is a professor of Computer Science, one of my daughters set up the Games Studio in ACMI and taught games design. All of us use computers today for work and play and recognise their limitations.
If you are interested in CCII check out Jim Battles excellent website on www.compucolor.org He has a lot of information and the original programs with a CCII emulator.