Compucolor.org – Guestbook

This page is a place for anybody who used or lusted after the Compucolor II computer, or any of the related computers built by ISC, to leave stories and recollections. Share your memories below! Because of spammers, all submissions go through a spam filter service, taking a few seconds to be approved. If you would rather communicate privately, use the email link at the bottom of this page.

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Jim Orcheson writes...
I purchased a CompuColor II in August or September of 1978 for about CDN $2800. This was $700 less than an Apple II cost in the same store.

Aside from the odd game, I purchased the assembler and MS Fortran, and did extensive programming on it.

A couple of things that I did not see mentioned on your site:
1. Someone wrote and sold a word processing program. I bought a daisy-wheel printer that printed at a whopping 30 characters per second. That printer lasted until I could no longer get printer ribbons for it.
2. There was a "magazine" of about the same quality as ColorCue, but many more pages per issue, that was written and published by someone in Toronto. It also was published 6 times per year. It lasted for 3 or 4 years.

All in all, I had a great time with the CompuColor II until one of the custom chips failed. I contacted ISC or Intecolor about a replacement chip, but by that time, they no longer stocked them. I think they had sold all of their parts to a company in Italy that continued to manufacture the Compucolor II until the supply of parts was exhausted.

ISC or Intecolor contacted the original chip manufacturer, who was willing to do a run of 1000 of them for me; since I only needed one, I never bothered inquiring what the cost would be. That ended my use of the computer.
Posted on June 29, 2017 - 11:07:07 EDT
John Bell writes...
I encountered the CompuColor II while a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1980. There were several computer stores in the RIT area and one sold the CCII. The owner of the store was named Fred, but I can't recall his last name or the store name. The store hosted an active user group once a month. I bought my CompuColor from Fred, although technically it was an InteColor 3601. It was the model with the keyboard, motherboard, and screen all in one. I got the max RAM and the large keyboard. I still have the machine in my closet, although it no longer works. Jim Battle did give me some great advice on replacing all the capacitors, but I haven't had time to do that yet. Some day.

One night at a User Group meeting, David Suits (a major contributor of CompuColor software to the library and a teacher at RIT) brought in a new game for us to try. It was called Adventure. I remember trying it out and not knowing what to do with it because it was a text-based game the likes of which I'd never seen before. At the first prompt (You are in a forest), I was stumped and finally typed in "So What?". David cracked up and said it was the most inventive response he'd yet seen to the initial prompt.

I had a lot of fun throughout my senior year of RIT writing my own software. I even contributed a program to the library for image editing. A far cry from the modern image editing software but at the time it was the biggest program I'd ever written. It's in the library here under CHIP #23. Enjoy!
Posted on May 30, 2017 - 18:52:21 EDT
John in OK writes...
A ham radio friend of mine had a Compucolor. As I understand it from him... Intecolor essentially never pushed much in the way of games because it was stated that the machine was too slow to run arcade style games. Yeah, in interpreted BASIC it was... but my friend was writing games for it and selling them, in 8080 assembly. The only game I remember off top of my head was Meteor Mission, but he wrote a few different games and sold them. We were using his machine with a custom logging program to log radio contacts, which was going well until we tuned up the antenna on 40 meters and rebooted the computer with RF... without a database backup. Oops.

I also remember these machines from my local high school... i read through the technical book and I seem to recall that there was a range of output ports (like 080h - 0FFh) that if values were written to them would cause the video controller to zorch. Not the most reliable design, if a malfunctioning or malicious program can kill the hardware. Still it was a vary pretty machine, both externally, and the color palette on-screen. I recall that Intecolor was primarily making data terminals for industrial applications and decided to make a personal type computer. Couldn't nearly afford one back in those days... or probably now for that matter. *grin*
Posted on November 28, 2016 - 22:15:53 EST
Maynard writes...
I remember these. Back in '79 (age 11) our family had a TRS-80. But a family down the street had a Compucolor and an Atari 800.To be honest, I was more interested in the Atari at that age. But I did play Star Trek on the Compucolor. And it was pretty awesome.

I miss those days...
Posted on September 27, 2016 - 09:06:01 EDT
Richard writes...
Awesome page. I've just started looking around. I worked for Intecolor from 1977 til 1982. Good times!
Thanks
Posted on August 14, 2016 - 18:30:17 EDT
I just posted a photo to Facebook (user lepton68) of my desk from that time, featuring a Compucolor II. That was a cool computer for its time. The keyboard had special color keys, it had floppy storage, and so on. But it was long ago and I had long forgotten what brand it was. I bothered my for years until today when someone identified it. A quick google and I found this site with a wealth of info!
Posted on March 3, 2016 - 09:46:46 EST
Oscar writes...
Do not own one but if I am lucky one day. Just here to say 'Nasty Computer' nice colorful stylish love the PCB boards! in it. The first one is my favorite nice keyboard.
Posted on November 15, 2015 - 08:48:10 EST
Kenneth Daniel writes...
I purchased my first computer in 1978. Yes, you guessed it! It was a Compucolor. Don't remember the II, but when I saw the picture and the narrative it all came back. Back then memory was very expensive. I paid $1,800 for the low end model with the 5 1/4" external floppy for storage. The Floppy's themselves cost like $5-10 apiece depending on how many I was going to purchase. I was going to get someone to program it to prepare Federal and State income tax returns. I don't remember just how far I got down the road of utilization but I do remember that if I wanted to copy the contents of one floppy to another I would follow the instructions on the screen while it would move the information from the 'from' disk to the 'destination' disk. The monitor would function as temporary storage while the disks were swapped. Another thing that bothered me was that when Tom Scherer (the 'friend who sold me machine told me that it would cost another $500 to 'upgrade it from 8k to 16k, I gave him the check and he sat down, powered down down, pulled assembly from the case and played with little set of dip switches and you got it. That was the $500 upgrade. He explained that it really was a good because it let me get started while I raised the last $500. Don't remember how long I had it , but I do remember that it was a long time before I got my next color computer. The next ones were various colors and 8" drives but I believe that the rest of the floppy's were built in. I also bought a Centronics printer which must have been about 20" square for which I paid $1,995 and was dot-matrix printing bi-directional and put out about 2 pages a minute. I had $4,300 invested in that set-up. It would be 1987 before Invested that much into computer and printers again and it still I don't believe had a color monitor and the next one I had with a built in monitor was also a portable that I used for several years that served me well--a Kaypro II. We have come a long way baby!!!!!!!!!
Posted on May 31, 2015 - 03:31:17 EDT
Rick Bolton writes...
Pleased to find this "tribute" site. I bought a Compucolor II for my 5 chidlren (and myself) at the end of 1979 from the Rochester NY Compuword store. The system cost a whopping $2000 complete, but I was an engineer for Kodak in their 'peak years'. The children, teens and preteens were the first "hands-on" computer literate kids in the area, knowledge which served them well over the years. It was a great machine for the time and I kept it all these years, though no longer functioning.
Rick Bolton
barehill@aol.com
Posted on May 19, 2015 - 11:22:52 EDT
Mark McDougall writes...
I discovered this site a few days ago after listening to the Floppy Days podcast episode on the Compucolor. Although I started out back in the day with a TRS-80 Model I, the Compucolor sounds familiar and I'm sure - especially given its presence in Australia - that I did see adverts for it in magazines that my father brought home such as Creative Computing and Byte.

Firstly I'd like to congratulate you on your web site - it's very impressive and no doubt the definitive reference for the Compucolor.

These days I collect retro computers but must admit that the Compucolor has never been on my radar. But after hearing the podcast I was intrigued by talk of the colour graphics and had to see what all the fuss was about. I should also mention at this point that one aspect of my hobby is the occasional - 100% accurate - porting of software titles between various machines, so I am always on the lookout for candidates that facilitate such a process.

Now I realise that we generally look back on the machines we grew up with, with rose-coloured glasses, but without trying to offend anyone, I would have to say that I am a little disappointed with the software titles for the machine. Whether this is a reflection on the capabilities of the hardware, or rather the lack of experience or even number of developers I cannot say, but I would have expected a higher number of, and quality of, arcade-style games for the machine. I realise that, unlike some other machines, there was contention between the CPU and video circuitry, and that hardware factors come into play, but given the games produced on 2MHz 8080-based hardware (Space Invaders) and a 1MHz 6502 (Apple II) something doesn't seem to add up.

Anyway, I didn't come here simply to bash the machine. Regardless, this impressive site and I guess even the machine itself does retain some level of interest for me. Given the processor and the graphics resolution, it does have me wondering whether one of the smaller TRS-80 Model I games (1,77MHz Z80, 128x48) could be ported without too much effort, albeit with completely re-written graphics logic? Hopefully one day I'll get the time to play around with it and try to answer some of my own questions about it.

Thanks and regards,
Posted on April 15, 2015 - 08:39:56 EDT
Steve writes...
Unlike most here, I have had no experience in using the Compucolor machines.

This is a very impressive website covering a machine/s I had never heard off until recently, where I have been looking at the history of computing & the various computers over the years. Most of the obscure computers, particularly the early ones, are unknown for a reason, but this machine & the even earlier Compucolor 8001 stand out from the others.

The machines seem to have a surprisingly large range of software for it, many of which is good quality for the time, showing of the good colour & graphics. On release the only real competition would have been the holy trinity of TRS80, Pet, & Apple II. The main negative I expect was the cost of the machine, which was quite high, & its main rival would be the Apple II though with better colour than that. Like I mentioned the software must have equalled the Apple early on, but for some reason never took on like its rivals once the 70's drew to a close. Also there doesn't seem to have been much support from the owners to push the machine that I can see.

Anyway, enough of me droning on, but I just really wanted to praise you for all the effort you have put into showcasing this machine, which certainly gives people a better perspective of the Compucolor II.

Another contender amongst the graveyard of dead machines in the personal computer market, which ultimately would be controlled by the mighty PC.
Posted on October 25, 2014 - 10:43:28 EDT
Lance F. Squire writes...
I stumbled apon a CompuColor II in the mid 90s along with a Intecolor 3600

My Brother played with the CompuColor II while I tried to get the Intecolor to work.

Sadly, we had no documantation, and the Compucolor II soon failed, and was lost to time... :(

I still have the casing for the Intecolor 3600.

Since we lost the CompuColor II and I could not get the InteColor 3600 to work, I gutted it.

Installed a PC monitor with speakers, a CD ROM drive where an obvious place for a 5.25 drove was ment to go and a PC kwyboard. Used it as my desktop for a few years.

Wish I had kep the original keyboard.
Posted on October 7, 2014 - 23:10:16 EDT
Jim Battle writes...
Jim Minor -- I've checked and none of the disk images I've captured have STONEV in the title or description. i know of no other website which has other disk images.

If you have a way of getting me your disk images, I'd love to host them here (with credit to you). Or if you want to loan the disks to me so I can capture them, that would be great too. Same with your Compu-Peeking columns. Contact me at jim -at- the battles.net if you care to pursue it.
Posted on September 12, 2014 - 13:35:57 EDT
Jim Minor writes...
P.S. Does anyone know of a site that has Stoneville Manor? My kids had a great time with that.
Posted on September 11, 2014 - 19:46:17 EDT
Jim Minor writes...
I purchased my Compucolor II ca. 1980. Got the top end 32K RAM version (also 32K ROM). Also got an external hard drive and the Microsynth. Have c bunch of documentation including a printout of the ROM source code (machine and assembler). Also have scads of discs. I wrote a column in the Rochester Compucolor groups newsletter, CHIPS, called "Compu-Peeking". Need to see if I still have copies of that. A near-term project is to hook it up and see what is working prior to putting it up on e-bay.
Posted on September 11, 2014 - 19:43:39 EDT
Michael writes...
Wonderful memories. I lusted after one of these when I was quite a bit younger. Well done!
Posted on August 24, 2014 - 07:54:45 EDT
Phil writes...
My father's work had one and we got in there by 6am so we could play games on it before the other people got in a 7. I fell in love with Star Trek.
Posted on July 28, 2014 - 09:23:04 EDT
Nick writes...
Very cool. The compucolor was the computer I first learnt to program. I was about 7 or 8 when we got one here in the UK. I remember a game called orbs! We still have a CCII which hasn't been switched on for nearly 20years. 20 years ago it was intermittent due to the electrolytic caps aging. Very dangerous system to work on due to the HV from the CRT. My dad added sound using the amp in an old blue transistor radio. It also has separate 5.25 floppy drive. Well done with the emulator. Looking forward to seeing more files.
Posted on July 23, 2014 - 18:49:30 EDT
Jim,

Kudos for developing and/or pulling these resources together and making them available. It's important to preserve the history of these less-well-known machines. Well done! Keep it up!
Posted on May 22, 2014 - 20:11:57 EDT
John writes...
Here's some missing Compucolor Games I used to play.

Space Patrol, Space Orbs, Robot Wars, and Star Trader
Posted on May 9, 2014 - 19:27:38 EDT

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