|Dick Smith VZ200 / VZ300 - Video Technology Laser 210 / Laser 310 - Texet TX 8000 - Seltron 200 - Salora Fellow|
|. . .|
|"VZ-200 & VZ-300 - 8 Bits of Awesome!" article by Jason Oakley|
They use the Zilog Z80 microprocessor and 16k ROM of Microsoft BASIC.
Graphics supplied by a Motorola 6847 chip and magic sound from a piezo speaker.
In Australia, the vz200 and vz300 were distributed by Dick Smith Electronics as a cheap computer in competition with the Sinclair ZX 80 computer. It features many shortcut key combinations for typing BASIC commands.
Dick Smith Electronics had a following in Australia. They were seen as an "Aussie battler" success story. A young entrepreneur, Dick Smith, started his electronics business from a small room in a house and built it into a popular electronics distribution and manufacturing company, beating off advances from Tandy Electronics (aka Radio Shack) from America which tried to wipe out the small business. Ironically, Woolworths Australia bought Tandy Australia and Dick Smith Electronics and now retails products from both stores in each store.
In 1983, Dick Smith Electronics started importing the Video Technology 8-bit computer into Australia. They re-branded this computer the Dick Smith VZ-200. The VZ-200 was priced at a reasonably low $199, later dropping it to $99 then $79. It came with 4k of RAM and eight colours (green, yellow, blue, red, buff, cyan, magenta, orange) of which only four at a time could be displayed, depending on which mode was selected. You could get a datasette (cassette recorder) and games on tape. For the budget-conscious, this was a dream computer.
Eventually, a 16k memory expansion unit was released. Along with dual-button joysticks and a printer/plotter (with four colours).
Years later, Laserlink started importing hardware and software products from Germany. Germany had a much more involved relationship with the VZ-200 series of computers. They had programmers, magazine articles and other hardware not available elsewhere. The computer was marketed as the Laser-210. Laserlink imported Light pens and hacked ROM chips with better support for BASIC commands.
An enterprising young lad named Russell Harrison began programming an Extended BASIC for the VZ computers. He was only 14 years old, but brought back many commands which were disabled in the VZ BASIC (such as AUTO and RANDOMIZE). There had been many Extended BASICs for the VZ (such as the one by Steve Olney and W Obrist [iirc]) but this was the most complete and brought many powerful commands not seen before (including a Sprite manager and better sound support).
Many people started newsletters to support the VZ. Dick Smith Electronics started with VZ-200 Interface, later changing to the newer Comput; Luigi Chiodo made Output and Visual Display Unit; John D'Alton had Le VZ OOPS (Owners, Operators and Programmers); John Waters had Vee Zee News; a group in New Zealand produced the Christchurch VZ User Group Newsletter; Leon Young had his LYSCO company with a newsletter; back in New Zealand came XILOG The Microcomputer Magazine for VZ200, VZ300 and Aquarius Users; Rick Swancott had Out West VZ-200 User Group; Gordon Browell the Ad Lib VeeZee Micro Club with a newsletter; Michael Novakovic with VZCOMPU200/300; Mark Harwood and VZ User; Joe Leon's newsletter was Hunter Valley VZ Users Group Newsletter/Journal; Scott Le Brun produced VeeZed Down Under; Peter Hill wrote VZ-Link; and Jason Oakley created the VZ-DiskMag. *
* Summarised from the VZ History by Bob Kitch.
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