[Electronica Music with soul] This is the double disk version of the Sanyo
MBC-550; the Sanyo MBC-555. Launched in 1983, many regard it as the first truly affordable
IBM PC Compatible, and in many ways it was. “In January I read a classified ad that went
something like this: For Sale: MS-DOS and IBM compatible PC, $995. I had been regularly
reading the classifieds for three years and knew this price was a typo. The correct price
must be $1995 or $2995. I rang anyway, and the salesman told me that $995 was the correct
price… ‘What’s wrong with it’ went through my mind” These are the words of Bill Sudbrink, in the
August 1984 issue of the popular computer magazine, Byte. So why was this PC so cheap, and what, if
anything, was indeed wrong with it. To answer that, we need to start with the original IBM
PC, and discover what compatibility really meant in the early 1980s….. [80s Disco synth] August 12 1981 is a date to remember, the
date the IBM Personal Computer was launched. Although IBM had no idea at the time, this
design would quickly become the industry standard all over the world. Based on open architecture, most of the PC’s
components were off the shelf products, the only real proprietary piece of hardware was
their BIOS; the Basic Input/Output System that is really at the core of how the system
works. Everything connected to the PC, from the graphics circuity, to the keyboard and
CPU are managed by the BIOS. You might need an operating system to control the PC, but
the BIOS provides the boot sequence and run-time services to enable it. You might suspect then,
that such a crucial component would be copyrighted by IBM, and indeed, due to how quickly IBM
put the machine together, it’s really the only component that is. Although there was
a grey area around that to begin with. Competition was already hitting the market,
but with IBM already the main player in the American business world, they needed to serve
up some goods. So, combined with their contacts and trusted name, their new Personal Computer,
breaking from the norms of huge mainframe systems was quickly adopted. The most popular
bundled operating system was the IBM branded PC-DOS 1.0, licensed from Microsoft in a hastily
arranged deal. This ran on an Intel 8088 4.77MHz CPU with up to 64KB of installed RAM, it was
a pretty capable device, which to many, more than warranted the entry level $1,565 price
tag, or closer to $3k if you wanted a disk drive and a reasonable amount of memory. But
for some, it either wasn’t quite powerful enough for their needs, and for others – especially
small business or home users – simply wasn’t affordable. Of course, third party manufacturers
were quick to realise this, and got started on their own designs. Here’s one of the first. This is the Columbia
Data Products MPC 1600. Launched in June 1982 and retailing for $2,995; it’s an incredibly
close copy of the IBM PC, apart from two factors. The first is that it’s superior, sporting
128KB of RAM as standard, an additional 3 expansion slots and two floppy drives. The
second is that the BIOS has been reverse engineered, and then built from the ground up, in a “clean
room” fashion. This is where a team with no prior knowledge attempt to recreate the functionality
of the original IBM BIOS from the ground up. Now this method nicely circumnavigates any
copyright issues, however it’s a timely and expensive process that many competitors couldn’t
commit to. Some, went down the route of directly copying
IBM’s BIOS chip, this included taiwanese, but also American companies like Eagle, and
their Eagle PC. However, for those who wanted to test this dangerous route, the Apple Computer
vs Franklin Computer Corp legal case decided in August 1983, that binary code should also
be held under copyright. Thereby closing the grey area I mentioned earlier. In terms of operating system, Microsoft’s
favourable licensing agreement with IBM allowed them to licence DOS to other computer manufacturers
without issue. Paving the way for even more “clones”, with their own branded DOS OS. Some of these clones would go down a different
route entirely, and one which Microsoft had actually planned and indeed hoped for, in
order to completely topple Digital Research’s CP/M as the previously leading micro OS. Here’s one of them. This is the Apricot PC,
and it’s one of the first computers to incorporate the Sony 3.5″ disk drive, giving a single
sided capacity of 315KB. It’s also has a whopping 256KB of RAM and an Intel 8086 Processor,
offering a full 16 bit Data Bus, compared to the IBM PC’s 8088 CPU. Now, this isn’t
a clone per say. It might have similar hardware, but it doesn’t incorporate an implementation
of IBM’s BIOS. However, crucially, it does run Microsoft DOS. In fact it’s an OEM version
of DOS specifically designed for this machine, adapted for a low cost by Microsoft themselves.
You see Microsoft had a vision where it would adapt bespoke versions of DOS to run on different
computer systems. Programs would run within DOS, and rely on the DOS APIs (application
programming interfaces) to communicate with the underlying hardware. This hardware abstraction
layer meant that a program that runs on an IBM PC under DOS, should in effect, have no
issue running on this Apricot machine, or any other 808x based system running it’s own
implementation of DOS. This universality meant these machines quickly
obtained the tagline of having “IBM PC Compatibility” or “data compatibility”, but almost always
stipulated as being only to certain degrees. You see, it was much faster, and indeed even
necessary in some cases for software to talk to the machine’s BIOS, or even the low level
hardware directly. DOS may have had adequate text functionality, however for software requiring
graphics or a flexible cursor that could be moved anywhere on screen, software developers
would often choose to address the IBM PC hardware directly, given it was the leading brand.
Hence these machines were not fully “IBM PC Compatible”. But these were like the Wild West days of
PC innovation and architecture. Opening up your favourite Popular Science or Computing
magazine would blast you with KB figures, processor speeds, disk drive sizes, on screen
colours and a slew of manufacturers, and operating systems to boot. So, if you could bring a
well specified PC to market, running DOS, for less than a thousand dollars, then it
was sure to make waves. [Synth me up boi] And this is where our Sanyo MBC-555 comes
in. Japanese electronics firm Sanyo, founded in 1947, may be been more familiar with domestic
appliance and hi-fi manufacture, but in 1982 had taken the computing plunge and launched
the CP/M based MBC-1000 series, running on a Zilog Z80A CPU and incorporating a green
screen with up to 2 disk drives. However, the rising dominance of the IBM PC meant they
would have to change both suit, and architecture. Originally launching in September 1983 as
the MBC-55 in Japan, this desktop unit would quickly make its way to Western and Australian
markets, where it was aimed at the thrifty business or power home user. This sleek & silver
package quickly turned heads for hitting all the right notes… I managed to source this particular unit from
eBay, for just under £300. It’s not in too bad shape at all, but it does need a going
over, especially the keyboard. You can see the grime on the keys there, it’s
not ideal. But sugar soap is perfect for removing all this grime. I like to use these wipes,
with a slightly dotted surface, which helps with the cleaning. Look how that dirt just
comes right off. Mmmmm. Same for the base unit, a quick go over with
the same wipe and it looks almost as good as new. If you’ve got a magic eraser, they’re
pretty good for getting rid of any left over marks. Ok, I think we’re ok to go. **…Featuring 128KB of RAM as standard, a
single 5.25″ disk drive on the 550 model, or double on the 555, a maximum screen resolution
of 640×400 with up to 8 on screen colours, this was a well equipped box, with only the
8088 CPU, clocked at 3.58MHz instead of 4.77MHz on the IBM PC, coming in under spec. So, all
this for $1,000 must have seemed like a steal. Comparable clones were coming in at at least
double that, and an equivalent IBM PC costing around $3,400! ** One of IBM’s answers to these low cost clones
was the PC Junior, launching in March 1984 and offering CGA improved graphics capability.
But even this machine, aimed at consumers was still almost $1,300, and that’s without
a monitor or disk drive, meaning users had to make do with the cassette interface. “FROM IBM. A COMPUTER THAT’S GROWING LEAPS
AND BOUNDS” *clunk* [nice soothing jazz] So, how did Sanyo achieve this amazingly low
price. Of course, for $995, Sanyo didn’t ship with a monitor as standard either. But at
least it damn well came with a disk drive. But at lot of it, is in that lower clocked
at 3.58MHz CPU. In NTSC regions, this is the same as the NTSC sub-carrier frequency, and
can easily be arrived at from the master clock. It meant the whole system ran slower, paving
the way for cheaper components, and a more efficient design, including a transformer
power supply, instead of a more expensive switching unit. At the rear we’re provided two video connectors,
an 8 pin RGB and a composite video out, meaning this beauty can be hooked up to almost anything,
although for a number of reasons (which we’ll get to), the composite output is only grey-scale.
For $199 you could bag the matching monochrome monitor for this connection. Or for $749,
you could have the colour monitor, fed from the RGB output. This Sanyo CRT-70 RGB Monitor,
fitted perfectly on top… or if you’re Tony Montana, you could just use a whole bank of
them to display security camera footage… but if you didn’t want that, you could just
grab a cheaper alternative. I’m using a rather appropriately paired Sanyo TV/Monitor. You’d
more commonly find this VDU paired with Sanyo’s MSX compatible MPC-100, but it in lieu of
the CRT-70, it still looks the part on top of the MBC. Back here, we’ve also got a Centronics printer
port. A 5 pin DIN keyboard socket (that isn’t IBM compatible), and also upgrade slots for
a Joystick connector, Line (which is actually for a RS232C port) and expansion card. You’ll
note there’s no standard serial or mouse inputs here. Peripherals in that regard are somewhat
limited. We’ll get to that larger expansion slot shortly, but for now, let’s boot her
up. *floppy insertion, mmmm* *Hi-fi sounding click* *sweet sweet whirring sounds* *reassuring disk access clunks* Mmmmmmmm, sweet, sweet smell of electronic
components warming up. That sweet, sweet sound of the disk drive kicking in. Now, in an IBM PC Compatible, here’s the point
where the ROM BIOS goes through it’s paces, and an attempt will be made to find an operating
system. In the case of the MBC, most of the 8KB ROM is actually empty. There’s 1K of keyboard
lookup tables, 2K for the font and just 256 bytes of code which initialises the base hardware
and loads the first sector from drive A:, which unlike convention is located on the
right hand side. And this is where it gets interesting. At
least, it does, if you’re me. You see the boot sector of the disk, actually needs to
contain the rest of the ROM, which is loaded into RAM (don’t ask). This provides access
to many features you’d find in the IBM BIOS, including video on Interrupt 10 and keyboard
on Interrupt 16, but it means that the main bulk of the BIOS is now referenced from RAM
by DOS rather than ROM. With that out of the way, Sanyo’s version of Microsoft DOS can
boot, and we’re good to go. Version 1.25 no less. “So we’ve just loaded up this DOS disk, but
if we reboot the computer without it… you can see the problem of having no BIOS is,
there’s nothing to show. The computer is literally looking for the first sector from this disk
to load the rest of this BIOS, and it doesn’t have it, so it just sits there in this blank
state. Put the DOS disk in and…” *satisfying disk clunks* “… away we go!” Those of you paying attention, may at this
point realise this means the MBC disk format is actually slightly different to that of
an IBM PC. But although we can’t boot from an MS-DOS disk, the MBC can read a single
sided DOS disk formatted on an IBM PC. Looking down at the keyboard, we’ve got an
81 key slab that matches the base unit perfectly. I really like this silver effect Rather than 12 function keys, they’re condensed
into 6, accessible using a a key command, as you’d find on a Commodore 64. Interestingly,
there’s no ALT keys, which are really quite crucial for many standard DOS programs, especially
where you need to access menus. Sanyo have instead opted for holding down “shift and
control” to mimick the Alt key. If you’re used to an IBM PC layout, you may also find
the shift key positioning a bit odd. But other than that the keyboard is very nice to use,
and offers a satisfying, switched click, provided by the almighty 3rd generation Fujitsu leaf-spring.
Which although providing good feedback, is also quite quiet and provides an incredibly
smooth action. “It’s quite a thick key. Quite a thick plastic
around the edge. Nice and solid, nice and sturdy though” *clicks* “So, these are the Disk packs we get with
the Sanyo MBC. The first one contains MS-DOS version 1.25, with BASIC 1.31. We’ve got WordStar,
Disk one of three, disk two of three and CalcStar on the third disk”
“The other set of disks is Mailmerge/Spellstar, Datastar, or the database system. Reportstar,
and disk three and disk four. So it’s quite a comprehensive little office system here.”
“Now, the machines instructions came in a folder, like this, rather nice… ohhhhhh,
very 80s pattern” “The manuals were reportedly incredibly difficult
to understand, they were laid out in quite an incoherent fashion, maybe it was a problem
with translation. Got some nice pictures, we’ve got someone happy in his office with
Datastar. How to use this training manual, I mean there’s a lot in here.” “So, this is the main DOS disk, and we’ve
got command.com, chkdsk, debug, edlin, filecom, format, diskcopy, BASIC and demo.bas. So not
many utilities and this is a very early version of DOS. We can run BASIC. This is kinda like
the BASIC that’s built into IBM PCs. It’s the pre-cursor to GW-BASIC that would become
bundled with DOS, going forward.” “If we load up the demo, what we get here,
is a graphical, demonstration. Pretty straight forward, it draws the Sanyo logo, and then
we get various demonstrations, character set, and different graphics they can produce. Of
course this would look better on a colour screen. It’s worth noting that the ASCII character
set on this machine, is indistinguishable from an IBM PC, that I can see at least” “Now I mentioned earlier, the Sanyo having
a basic beeper style speaker, but I’m going to show you a demonstration of the differences
in the hardware using that. If we use the BASIC commands Sound or Play; this computer
will completely ignore them, no matter what parameters you put in. But, if we access the
sound hardware directly… so, let’s type in 10….. 40… next x, and we run this.
Right let’s try that again..” *rat a tat tat” “There we go, we get a machine gun style sound,
which is, which is nice. So we can produce effects from the built in speaker. You just
have to go around it a slightly different way sometimes.” “Alright, let’s give Wordstar a go shall we.
This is our basic word processor. We get a print test file, and we get the menu at the
top, which we can access using various key combinations. We can scroll using the directional
arrows on the numpad. Yeah! It’s a wordprocessor. How do I exit? HOW DO I EXIT? EXIT?!” “Calcstar, copyright 1983 Micropro International
Corporation. Alrighty, so here is our spreadsheet. Filename, make sure the file is saved. So,
we have to know the filename! I have to go back and check the directory! There we go
demo, demo.csd. Let’s load that. DEMO.CSD, and we have spreadsheet, and we can control
this, CTRL-X will go down, CTRL-D will go right, it’s a spreadsheet program! Excellent!” *CLUNK* “Ahhh, I love that clunking disk sound! Datastar!
The form definition file does not exist. Do you want to create it?….. Yes, I do. THIS
is a database program. Ahh, we can spend all day on this. Basically, we’ve got all the
essential office programs with this system, and for this price it was an absolute bargain.
That’s why many businesses and many home users bought it!” There are also a couple of quirks worth mentioning.
The first is that when writing to disk, the system clock actually pauses. Meaning that
it can very quickly fall considerably behind real time. But there’s no actual battery in the unit, so you have to enter the date and time on each boot. I guess we should take a look inside, and
see what’s powering this thing. —Sponsor Now, as you know, buying this old equipment
is not cheap, so, today’s sponsor is Skillshare, and it’s a learning service I’m really excited
about going in to this year, mainly because I’m using it. If you watched my last video
you probably heard me talk about how I’m trying to improve production this year, really step
my game up. I mean, this channel, as well as being about these stories, is really about
the emotion behind the techology. And courses like DanDan’s creating a Modern Cinematic
Documentary with Soul are really going to help me bring that to camera. I’m already
half way through this course, and the way it’s laid out is so incredibly clear and straight
forward. I’m even starting to play with lighting effects already, so it’s something I’m really
excited about. But this is Skillshare, it offers so many
Life Enriching courses, that you’re bound to find something you can get your teeth into.
Right now, Skillshare is giving away 2 free months of premium membership, to help you
explore your creativity, if you click the link in the description box below… and after
that it’s only around $10 per month, which is one of the reason’s I’m on board. So why
don’t you join me on that journey into 2020, and let’s see if we can learn something amazing,
and really step our creativity up. Thanks for watching, let’s get back to the
video —Sponsor [Emotive 80’s synth] So, that is 8KB of ROM I mentioned earlier.
Well, there it in, amongst this vast array of discrete logic chips. You can see our 128K of RAM seated there.
This thing can actually be expanded in 64KB increments up to 256K on the Motherboard,
although I believe technically it can address up to 960K with an appropriate expansion card.
There we have the 16 bit arithmetic calculating Intel 8088, slightly crippled by it’s 8 bit
bus, and underclocked speed. But it does have the optional 8087 maths co-processor slot there. For the display, the RGB output is generated
by this HD68A45, which is a Motorola 6845 clone, and it roughly approximates CGA graphics,
but is different enough to be incompatible with most graphical IBM PC programs. If you
wanted true CGA compatibility Sanyo’s answer, was, for approximately $200 you could actually
add TRUE CGA compatibility via. this expansion slot. The MBA’s CGA card is incredibly rare,
and it also requires a different version of DOS that pushes the display through the CGA
card’s 9 pin TTL port, rather than default, but it does allow you to use a few more graphics
based IBM PC Compatible programs. The system can actually drive both the composite display
and RGB simultaneously. The reason composite is only greyscale is that the red signal plane
becomes “blink” and blue becomes “brightness”. Also, given the regional TV signal differences,
and differences in the colour carrier signal, it’s easier to omit colour from this output,
to give a universal standard. As for sound, well, like an unexpanded PC,
we’re limited to that basic beeper. Endearing, if ear wrenching. Worth noting is that there’s also an exhaust
fan for the power supply, which was reasonably rare at the time, but means the MBC makes
a reassuring whirr in operation, rather than corroding your soul with the heartless void
of soundless electronics. As mentioned before, it’s also unusual to have a transformer, rather than a switching power supply. But, whatever works There’s actually a connector on the motherboard for a 5MB hard drive, although it wasn’t promoted at the time. A company called Thoughtworks produced hard drives for the MBC, in 5,10
or 20Mb configurations, however with prices starting at $2200, they certainly weren’t
a cheap upgrade, and are therefore rarer than the CGA cards! “These machines are so much more simply built, and so much easier to work with..” “take apart, put back together” *screw flying* “Ooop, apart from that.” *METAL SCRAPES* *METAL JESUS CAN HEAR IT* *soothing stroking sound* *other sounds* [Synth time again folks!] [Building up!] [There it is] During 1984, approximately 70 bespoke software
packages were available for the Sanyo line, with some 20 software houses actively engaged
in bespoke software. If you add this to the IBM PC DOS software that is compatible, then
you end up with a quite respectable library to choose from. Some of the IBM PC games which
worked included Zork 1,2,3, mainly because they’re text based games and can operate through
the DOS APIs. But there were also bespoke games built specifically
the MBC, including; Thunder Chief, Demon Seed and Time Bandit
by Michtron. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of these, but thanks to the power of the internet,
and a wonderful gent named Gerry/Leo of Eriscreations.com, I can show you a few clips of it in action. I’ve gotta say, it doesn’t look half bad. The biggest hurdle with running actual IBM
PC games were, of course, the graphics. The way each system addresses the monitor memory
map is distinctly different. So unless you had a CGA board, compatibility was hard to
find. So then, here’s a machine that launched to
a lot of praise, a lot of good press, and seemingly, pretty solid initial sales, and
certainly in the tens of thousands. It was also quickly adopted by the Washington D.C.
based National Radio Institute. Previously they had based their course around a TRS-80
Model 4, but now you could effectively learn to build your own IBM PC Compatible from the
ground up. Presumably they would ship you the parts and the course documentation for
the membership fee, and you could get cracking, with your soldering iron and potentially zero
previous knowledge. Because that doesn’t sound like a recipe for disaster. I hope that’s
not how my model came into being. The NRI would advertise in regularly in magazines
such as Popular Science, giving the MBC additional coverage. There was even a dedicated US magazine for
the Sanyo MBC range, called Soft Sector. This issue is from April 1986, demonstrating that
the user base was still present and active as the 80s went on. However, despite all this, the MBC, like all
computers of this ilk, would die out, in favour of true PC compatibles by companies such as
Compaq, and others who made use of the highly compatible Phoenix Software Associates or
American Megatrends BIOSes. At the lower end of the scale Tandy would find market share
with their 1000 model, based around a PC Junior, but actually selling much better than IBM’s
doomed home foray. In August 1985 Sanyo reported selling off
their remaining MBC-550 inventory, so they could concentrate on new products which were
reportedly 99% compatible with the IBM PC. The first of these was a luggable named the
MBC 775, retailing at $2,599, with an XT clone, the 885 released shortly after, sporting dual
drives, 256K and 8MHz CPU. Even so, the 99% figure seems a little optimistic in hindsight.
The 8 Bit Guy has done a video about the 775 machine if you want to go down that route.
The MBC name would, however, continue into the ’90s with a range of true IBM PC compatible
laptops. The MBC-18 is a 286 based machine, which too all intents and purposes, is a decent
early 90s laptop. It’s good to know they got there in the end, before returning to the
safety of home entertainment, personal stereos and other home appliances. Today they’re a subsidiary of Panasonic, with
the brand dwindling out into insignificance. Still, you’ve got to hand it to them, they
sure knew how to make a damn fine looking piece of equipment. Thanks for watching, have a great evening. I know, this music is catchy, right?


100 Comments

Nostalgia Nerd · January 21, 2020 at 1:43 am

Huge thanks to LGR for lending his voice; https://www.youtube.com/user/phreakindee

If you're interested in find more about this era of PCs, you might find these videos compelling;
LGR – Tandy 1000: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=malgCK7qHQAB
8 Bit Guy – Sanyo MBC-775: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euhp8Vn2FTw
Modern Classic – IBM PC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PceJO3CAGI

BlueSpartan 076 · January 22, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Dont forget the sanyo 3DO at the end

SeltsamerAttraktor · January 22, 2020 at 6:21 pm

Youtube un-bell-ed you for me 🙁

Solvalou · January 22, 2020 at 6:23 pm

I was watching one of these on eBay a few weeks or so back, I was wondering who won this as it was local to me aswell. So local it was in the same town as I live in. Not sure if this was that machine.

Went for alot more than I expected.

caster troy · January 22, 2020 at 6:26 pm

at the time I would have bought a spectrum with a Microdrive every time

Mash Rien · January 22, 2020 at 6:45 pm

All for increasing your skill.. but don't go all professional studio like JayzTwoCents or the rest of the crowd.. A MASSIVE part of the appeal, and charm, of your content is that we're almost made to feel as though we're hanging out with a fellow nerd in his cave of wonders. Your content is more inviting and personal, less sterilized business of the other folks.
(This is also why, I think, David/8Bit has continued to grow as he has but doesn't change the format much.. That, and he's genuinely just a nice guy.)

Bolling Holt · January 22, 2020 at 6:52 pm

That's cool. From the side it looks a lot more like my Sanyo Beta VCR or some hifi gear.

SeltsamerAttraktor · January 22, 2020 at 6:53 pm

My Philips NMS 8255 is superior. Also Sanyo made, the hardware is very similar

Frits Felix · January 22, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Certainly a nice setup. Looks a lot sleeker than a original IBM 5150. But, there can be only one original, and I would never trade it for anything.

Ronald Boers · January 22, 2020 at 7:51 pm

A very beautiful machine and it still looks modern.

Gnome Warlock · January 22, 2020 at 8:01 pm

Thank you for taking the time to clean your stuff off.
MVG zooms in on his keyboard and you can see the pubes and grime all over it.

Darth Koonstyle · January 22, 2020 at 9:27 pm

I know there's probably not much to it, but maybe you should discuss the evolution of IBM compatible BIOS's from the IBM through this through what AMT has made… though it''ll be a shorter video, maybe, might be interesting. I've always wondered how AMT became the premiere BIOS maker after all of these years though they either licensed or backward engineered it.

DarkLight748 · January 22, 2020 at 9:30 pm

Please remove background music.

kFY · January 22, 2020 at 9:39 pm

Wait. So the CPU is underclocked to 3.58 MHz to match the NTSC color subcarrier frequency, but then… the machine has no color over composite? Please excuse me, but… what?!

meetoo594 · January 22, 2020 at 9:56 pm

Used these at uni in 1987ish. If you got to the lab too late and all the proper pc`s were claimed you had the `pleasure` of using these horrible not quite compatible enough machines. Not only were they slow but half the software just didnt work properly. They wernt very reliable either. Spent many frustrating hours tweaking code to work on these hateful machines.

Paul Carney · January 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm

🙂

johneygd · January 22, 2020 at 10:11 pm

That sanyo pc lookslike avcr deck.

Electrons Needed · January 22, 2020 at 10:34 pm

wow that really is a very nice looking computer would love to have it in the midst of my silver hifi 🙂 , i wonder why we had decades of beige computers with designs like that about ?

John Bradley · January 22, 2020 at 10:36 pm

A fascinating machine and thank you for bringing back many memories of the early days of IBM compatible machines.

I raise your $999 Sanyo and suggest you take a look at the Advance 86 which was built in the UK by Ferranti in 1983 and was sold through select WH Smiths Home Computer branches from around £360. I know this because my first job was in one of those shops and I remember using and selling them. They were even available without any hard or floppy drives at all – yes, they came with a casette interface as standard! – perfect for the home user market at the time.

Some information on these genuinely affordable first UK IBM compatible machines can be found online. I'm sure the world is ready to hear about these almost completely forgotten PC pioneers

It's a Pixel THING · January 22, 2020 at 10:49 pm

Lovely video, Pete! Really enjoyed it! Love that era!
All the best!

Matt Kasdorf · January 22, 2020 at 11:23 pm

Gasp! I have one of these! No monitor though.
🇨🇦

Patchuchan · January 23, 2020 at 1:08 am

The graphics were much better than CGA with 8 colors at 640×200 vs 4 at 320×200 or 2 at 640×200.
Though the Tandy 1000 pretty much killed the market for this model as it was more PC compatible and also had enhanced graphics notably a 16 color 320×200 mode.

Anthony S Anaya · January 23, 2020 at 1:15 am

The closed captioning on this video is great!! Love the description of sounds!

Crono OfMana · January 23, 2020 at 1:28 am

did you back up the disk?

Kevin Nunes · January 23, 2020 at 1:29 am

Great music in this episode. 🙂

AgentOrange96 · January 23, 2020 at 2:01 am

"mini-floppy disk" 5.25"… I guess it's not 8" to be fair.

VWestlife · January 23, 2020 at 2:09 am

One odd thing visible in the video but not mentioned is that the indicator LED of the currently selected floppy drive always stays lit, even while it is not being accessed.

ShamanKish · January 23, 2020 at 3:51 am

It was IBM's task to make this standard. And so will they make standard with quantum computing. And all "noncompatibles" will be eliminated 😎

Dragonslayer182 · January 23, 2020 at 4:27 am

Stop putting your ads in the middle of the fucking video.

rootbeer666 · January 23, 2020 at 5:10 am

Transformer PSU is a good thing, a transformer has 90%+ efficiency whereas a switching power supply of the era would have ~70% efficiency at best.

michaeldibb · January 23, 2020 at 5:25 am

My Dad had this PC for his business accounts. Great hi-res graphics for the time, I used to program simple BASIC games on it. Happy days. 🙂

chainedlupine · January 23, 2020 at 6:49 am

A bit of a correction. It wasn't that DOS and BIOS couldn't handle text functionality such as cursors, but that you needed to use BIOS routines to do anything other than just read/write from STDIN/STDOUT (ie: interfacing with your computer like its a terminal program). The BIOS routines (int 10h to be exact) could move the cursor, change its type (blinking or underline), scroll part of the text up/down, change colors, etc. But people didn't like to use the BIOS routines because they were slow. Like, really slow.

For example, the original IBM 5150 had their original CGA card which could not share the video RAM with the CPU if it was reading text for video output — if you tried to write to it during anything but vertical blank, it would cause random garbage to appear. (Called "snow" at the time.) The BIOS routines (as implemented by IBM) would always wait for vertical blank to change any video memory, so this made them rather slow. Particularly when clone hardware started to appear which fixed the CGA card's hardware problem and did need the so-called "snow fix." Therefore, writing directly to video memory was possible, and this made text functions a lot faster.

At that point it was kinda impossible to shove developers back into the INT 21h/10h box for total %100 cross-system platform and the rest is history.

A side note: This is why before we got 386 systems and true virtual hardware access, using DOS apps in Windows 1.0/2.0/286/etc was not very useful — a DOS program could only use the INT 21h/10h functions to draw text/get keyboard input and be displayed in a window, otherwise Windows had to "shell out" and give the program full access to everything in full-screen mode (taking up critical low-memory). If you used Windows 3.0/3.1, you might remember there still being a shell-out mode for DOS programs in case they did really funky hardware stuff that might clobber Windows 3.x's own stuff. 🙂

Bitelaserkhalif 555 • · January 23, 2020 at 7:14 am

For whatever reason, our people knew Sanyo for their water pump

Pete Zaparti · January 23, 2020 at 7:26 am

I bet this version of CalcStar crashes fewer times per day than Excel 365.

Pete S. · January 23, 2020 at 7:30 am

I heard that at 19:24. The old "blame it on the PC speaker" routine, one of the oldest in the book.

Tuuli · January 23, 2020 at 9:21 am

OH. Those keycaps. <3

R69NiX · January 23, 2020 at 10:17 am

We get it. You’ve got a girlfriend now. xP hehe That monitor with a fucking built in printer ar 7:45 is fucking mental! Why have I not seen anything about this till now? Where are the YouTube videos about this oddity?

R69NiX · January 23, 2020 at 10:20 am

Ahhh Charlie Chaplin Back then people didn’t know he was a pedophile…

CptJistuce · January 23, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Do you know if the monochrome video out port was global, or just PAL units? It shouldn't be hard to get color out of it in North America and Japan, and the choice of clock seems like it was intended(though it could just be the cheapness of NTSC colorburst crystals).

That said, I can think of one really good reason to forego color on the TV-out even when it is an easy addition: it makes the image a LOT clearer. And if they were trying to push legible 80-character text through a TV of the era, they needed all the help they could get.

Daniel Lopez · January 23, 2020 at 12:39 pm

12:57 Octavius back there 😀

benanderson89 · January 23, 2020 at 1:44 pm

"Affordable". Adjusted for inflation this silver box is the equivalent of $2,500! Christ, that's terrifying.

Blinking Lights and Smoking Caps · January 23, 2020 at 2:48 pm

When looking to purchase my first PC about 30 years ago, these machines were still available, as a UK dealer seemed to have a lot to dispose of, and for considerably less that even an Amstrad PC 1640. I didn't go down that route, but I presume many others did.

Chris Eveley · January 23, 2020 at 4:10 pm

Do all youtubers really have to stretch old 4:3 video to 16:9 and mess up the aspect ratio?

csward53 · January 23, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Nice LGR cameo there!

buranflakes · January 23, 2020 at 6:52 pm

Oh nice, I saw one of these on my local Craigslist a while ago and was hoping to find an in depth video on them like this lol. Glad someone finally took a look at it

videodoodler · January 23, 2020 at 7:28 pm

Western and Australian markets"? Isn't Australia a "western" market?

RETROnuts · January 23, 2020 at 8:52 pm

I didn't even know what a computer was in 81,got a C64 in 84,before that I used a Commodore Pet.

Tech Nerd · January 23, 2020 at 9:11 pm

Very nice walk down memory lane. I had always thought Compaq had made the first IBM compatible. I am also surprised those 5 /4 floppies still work after so many years. I tossed out mine only last summer after having them so long but no drive to read them. I had the original IBM PC back in 83 with IBM DOS 2.0 and a copy of IBM DOS 1.1 and TRS-DOS 1.1 from my old high school they tossed out that I took home with me. As well as a couple of hundred of floppies of software. Killed me to throw them out because I hoped one day I would be able to read them like a digital time capsule.

demofilmpuntnl · January 23, 2020 at 9:24 pm

Those on/off switches feel like you activate a nuclear power station

Johnny Phillips · January 23, 2020 at 11:31 pm

What is the music at 4:00?

intel386DX · January 24, 2020 at 12:12 am

this computer looks amazing ! remind me of the professional audio Hi Fi systems 🙂 lust love it 🙂 !

Rob Taylor · January 24, 2020 at 12:18 am

It seems Sarah is now living with you as she's now on practically all your videos. Soooo are you both an item then lol?

CaptainCorleone · January 24, 2020 at 2:34 am

I think this is what the "Visitors" were using on the mothership in V – The Final Battle.

Sam Sanai · January 24, 2020 at 3:40 am

With that power button, it looks like a hifi component.

R.a. Wheeler · January 24, 2020 at 5:56 am

Ah the feel of cleaning keycaps, and clackity keys and firing up an 8088 based pc… pleasing!

Ahmad Budiman · January 24, 2020 at 6:38 am

lol sanyo literally means water pump in my country.

R.a. Wheeler · January 24, 2020 at 8:34 am

I actually think Sanyo got a lot of things right with this system. I remember back in the early 90's obtaining one of these to play with, I was amazed at the idea of an easily upgradable rom. It's almost trivial today I guess, but wouldn't it be just easier if OS updates included upgrading the rom too? Sanyo thought so, while I don't think there where many updates itself, it would be easy to do. Back then it was done to save on hardware, and perhaps speed things up a bit since the rom likely stayed in memory and early PCs didn't have that feature, it had to talk back to a slow rom chip instead of memory locations. Thankfully that was fixed and helped speed things up a bit. But, I just see a lot of upsides to doing this. Early Macs had their firmware fully in rom and later did something similar with their toolbox. The PC side of things however still shadow copy firmware from rom to memory on bootup. The downsides to this are pretty obvious from a security stand point but that could probably be easily locked down too. Can't be any worse then say Intel vulnerabilities. I liked the VCR like construction of this unit. Quite unique at the time.

just1nj · January 24, 2020 at 8:37 am

Does it remind anyone else of the VCR as far as the case goes?

Miles Hayler · January 24, 2020 at 8:58 am

That power button is amazing! Definitely looks like it's stolen from a hifi though…

indyracingnut · January 24, 2020 at 1:04 pm

This was my first real computer. I would give anything to get my hands on one now.

John Mortensen · January 24, 2020 at 1:23 pm

I remember seeing these models and loving the keyboard.

Rafael Zig · January 24, 2020 at 3:17 pm

Another awesome video! I have been watching your content for a couple of years now and it has always been top notch, keep it up! You should try covering the MiSTer in one of your future videos!

Juan Fonseca · January 24, 2020 at 3:19 pm

title should be: the first VHS with keyboard and monitor

Monty Python the Flying Circus · January 24, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Wasn’t Sayno more associate with making Hi-Fi equipment? After all this PC is very Hi-Fi looking

Witek Ew. · January 24, 2020 at 5:23 pm

I wonder how they fit all those double triodes and pentodes into a memory IC, which is BIOS, at 4:35

Tone. · January 24, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Nice. All that's needed is for Adrian Black to buy one so he can design and build a HDD emulator interface that uses a CF card, along with a memory expansion card. He's already done this with the Tandy 1000; how hard can it be for him to do this with a Santo MBC-555? 😀

Arianna B Otaku · January 25, 2020 at 12:14 am

That is what I first learned to program on. My first computer!!! And yes I still own one!!!!

Carl Richards · January 25, 2020 at 12:20 am

Ah I actually owned this model of Sanyo pc, what memories this brings back. My first pc and my brother and built a serial port on veroboard. It was a disappointing computer because of its compatibility, but we learnt loads on this machine ❤️

Tom Carlson · January 25, 2020 at 3:07 am

Sanyo made some darn good looking Betamax VCRs back then too…How much you wanna bet this computer shares it's top cover part with a Betamax deck?

William Sudbrink · January 25, 2020 at 4:06 am

Funny to hear that old article read out loud. I was in college when I wrote it.

StarkRG · January 25, 2020 at 7:01 am

9:33 Sounds like you need The Kitchen Gun. BANG! BANG! BANG! GOODBYE DIRT!

AtomicBuffalo · January 25, 2020 at 7:57 am

I cut my teeth on one of these back in the day. Turbo Pascal worked just fine on Sanyo MS-DOS 2.0 🙂
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

dannyd464 · January 25, 2020 at 9:41 am

Why Is there a woman in your office ? what the hell ? do you know how dangerous it is to have a woman anywhere near computers, they could explode………..the woman that is……………. you're welcome no need to thank me.

Mr Guru · January 25, 2020 at 10:56 am

That IS a switching power supply. The small transformer in the middle and the transistors on heatsinks is a dead give-away. A linear PSU would have to be 3X bigger to power a PC. The big transformer is a drop-down transformer since you are in UK which is 240V. If you check the transformer output it will be 100V which is the Japanese standard. Would be nice if you can confirm the BIOS is the same as we have archived in MAME. Use the debug command (instructions here http://mess.redump.net/dumping/dump_bios_using_debug). You only need to dump from 0000 – 2000 (8k). Zip it then open the zip and look at the CRC32. Or pull the chip and read it as a 2764 in an EPROM programmer if you have access to one. We have archived V1.2 with crc32 b439b4b8. Thanks!

cycleslayer · January 25, 2020 at 1:36 pm

So why you show only screen capture quickly and few, to instead show the monitor with a light shining on it and fuzzy to not be able to see it, just to show your quick hand movement- sorry I just wanted to see what it was showing but not. Till the end. That's my only rant. Other than that loved 95% of the content and history.

Soren Kuula · January 25, 2020 at 10:24 pm

Funny, first they downclock the CPU to match color frequency and save an xtal. Then, they drop the color system that needs a color xtal.

David Grandy · January 26, 2020 at 1:44 am

I bought at Sanyo 555. It had 256k of memory. It also came with a monochrome (green) monitor and went for $1499 in Canada in 1986. He has mentioned that it had no ALT key. The industry standard word processor was Word Perfect and it needed a discrete ALT key for some functions. So they bundled Word-Star. (Save was Ctrl-KD. How do I still remember that?!) Mainly though it was a real computer. I could use it for word processing and typed some papers for my grad student wife. Better than a typewriter, although the "near letter quality" dot matrix printer took about six hours to print a ten page document! I guess we all had to start somewhere.

MajorOutage · January 26, 2020 at 2:34 am

Hearing Clint's voice at not even 30 seconds in really threw me into a "Wait…wut?" moment.

005 AGIMA · January 26, 2020 at 5:02 am

That's one nice looking machine actually

Stephen Kilpatrick · January 26, 2020 at 5:08 am

Anytime I see the name, “Nostalgia Nerd,” all I can think of is Homer Simpson yelling, “NEEEEERRRD!!”
Seriously though, great video.

Disthron · January 26, 2020 at 6:04 am

Simply Built
I'm not sure if it's a matter of being simpler but rather being build to be serviced. Manufacturers of this time knew people would be opening up the machines to add in extras or just maintain them and so they were designed to be opened up. Unlike many modern products that use heaps of glue and clips that are meant to be used and then thrown away.

vindictor · January 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

I trained on a Sanyo MBC-555 in the 80s. We had the grey disk drive model, double sided!!! We were always amused by the sound “capabilities” which, by the way, can be accessed by typing “beep”. I forget, now, if that was from DOS or BASIC, but it was definitely in one of them. Our machines were running on MS-DOS 2.1 IIRC. I never did know why I couldn’t boot PC disks from other systems on the Sanyo, now I do. I didn’t know about the BIOS, at the time. I STILL have my box of Sanyo disks in storage. No idea if they still work. I kept them in the hope I’d one day be able to recover the software and documents myself, and friends wrote and saved on them. It never occurred to me I could get an MBC-555 from eBay! I might have to start looking. Thanks for the memories!

EDIT: Our favourite Sanyo MBC-555 game was a Space Invader clone, called “Cash Crisis”

Membrane556 · January 26, 2020 at 5:46 pm

In someways such as only having a very basic bootstrap ROM vs a BIOS it's more like a later CP/M machine than a PC.
I wonder if they reworked a design intended for CP/M 86 to run MS/DOS like DEC did the Rainbow 100 as a lot of the hardware is very different.

B. O. · January 26, 2020 at 7:06 pm

PC Jr had a cartridge slot as well

Nicholas Scott · January 26, 2020 at 9:06 pm

I remember around 1987, my school wanted to get a bunch of PCs to start a computer lab. The cheapest they could find had the computer, monitor, and floppy all in one unit, like the early macs. They only had one slot, which we used to hold a network card to access software on a server. They worked, but were terrible to take apart and work on.

Einstein.186 · January 26, 2020 at 9:39 pm

There are so many errors in this nonsense. I worked for an IBM dealer and I was friendly with an IBM guy, who's job it was to stamp out cheap imported clones into the UK, amongst his jobs.
Firstly, the Sanyo MBC-555 was NEVER sold as an IBM clone as the makers would not want to risk the wrath of IBM.

1. NOT the first PC compatible
2. NOT actually a PC 'compatible', just a machine than runs MSDOS, the generic version of IBM's PC-DOS, which it will not run.
3. Will not run more than about 5-10% IBM game software as the hardware is far far too 'different'. Memory map was too different, too slow, just just a cheap nasty MS-DOS computer
4. Actual PC clones could run Sublogic's Flight simulator or Lotus 1-2-3 (IBM PC versions). This machine will never do this!
Real clones are:=
http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/7141/Ferranti-Advance-86/
http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/1616/Tandy-1000-Professional-computer/

Sanyo sold CP/M computers, z80 cpu, 64kb ram and a couple of floppies but the sale of these dried up and were no longer competitive with MS-DOS machines.

5. IBM intentionally crippled the IBM PC as thy did not want it to compete with their 'proper' computers, in particular, their minicomputers, like the Datamaster (Intel 8085!!!) the System/34 or36 and the IBM Series/1 which were smallish minicomputers.

6. The IBM PC had FIVE expansion slots and 63watt PSU. The later IBM PC-XT had EIGHT expansion slots and a 132 watt PSU (to power that 10mb full height 5.25" hard disk. All IBM PC's and PC-XT's could be upgraded to 640kb ram. This was because the 8088 and 8088 could only address 1024kb or 1mb of memory (Ram, ROM and input/output)

The earliest IBM PC's could only use 4116 ram chips. with FOUR rows of chips that made 64kb, so IBM offered a number of ram cards, most popular being the 576kb half card (I have one). The later motherboards used 4164 (64k x1bit) and later 4256 (256k x 1bit) The IBM PC XT-s motherboards used these.

7. Ibm 1982 Chuck (6502) Peddle launched the Victor 9000 (Sold as the ACT Sirius-1 computer) Which shipped with MS-DOS and, CP/M 86. Here is the LAUNCH VIDEO:-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_z443gwtW0
Act sirius-1 and victor 9000 side by side

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9uy2PMT8Zw
Victor 9000 copying a floppy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR8Eg3B9KMg
Victor 9000 video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h_IfTumm_U

Apricot-1 Launch video:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gy5P9EElYo

There were MS-DOS machines that almost PRE-DATE the IBM PC, HOWEVER REAL, 100% compatibles (Clones) did not appear until 1983/84. Falcon DOS was written for the 8086 and was bought be Microsoft and repackaged for IBM.

Petr75661 · January 26, 2020 at 9:41 pm

I can't decide if it's unbrickable or bricked by design…

William Matheson · January 26, 2020 at 11:58 pm

Looks good, but does it run Planet X3? Otherwise I'm gonna have to shell out for a true blue and CGA.

William Matheson · January 26, 2020 at 11:59 pm

Would it be possible to combine the BIOS-off-floppy with a later version of DOS on the same disk?

panchamkauns · January 27, 2020 at 6:44 am

This was my first PC! Very nostalgic to see it with the floppies and binder <3

MonochromeWench · January 27, 2020 at 9:18 am

no proper bios, might be cheap but you get what you paid for! would hate for something to happen to that boot disk. Calling it PC Compatible might be a bit of a stretch at times Curious what compatibility with games was like. Just how much bios can you fit in 1 512 byte sector. A dos driver to give a complete bios would probably be useful for those programs that don't want to use the dos api.

Chris Cebelenski · January 27, 2020 at 1:44 pm

And, for years and years, you'd find these machines in the black-and-white ads of a lot of computer mags at various "low and unbelievable" prices. I seem to remember even a two-fer sale at one point. "An incredible 100% IBM PC COMPATIBLE machine for less than you'd spend on a lawn chair!" Well, DOS compatible anyway. As long as you mean DOS < 2.0.

catsspat · January 27, 2020 at 9:35 pm

I used to have a GoldStar (now LG) IBM PS/2 clone. It had Intel 386SX/16MHz, 1MB DRAM, and 40MB HDD, for $2k in 1990.
I believe it had Pheonix BIOS. The machine had absolutely no compatibility issues. At the time, if one wanted to buy a real IBM PS/2 for the same money, you'd end up with a 286, I think at 12MHz.
I used the heck out of it for 6+ years. I had upgraded DRAM to 8MB (8x 1MB SIPPs), and some larger HDD, but I don't remember the details. I think it was Maxtor.
If I could, I'd tell my old self to not throw it away.

GenericEric · January 28, 2020 at 7:10 am

I had one of these as my first PC! My dad bought it for me in 1993.

Ennar · January 28, 2020 at 7:21 am

I love this Japanese design philosophy, everything looks like a piece of HiFi equipment

Nancy Pelosi · January 28, 2020 at 8:08 am

OK, convinced! Going to Radio Shack to buy one 🤪

Ion-SHIVs · January 28, 2020 at 5:29 pm

The base unit actually looks like a VCR.

ChillCosmos · January 28, 2020 at 11:14 pm

Did they even have a CGA expansion card at the time? I thought they were all onboard, and you'd expand to an EGA card (if they existed in that time)

Frank B · January 29, 2020 at 6:09 am

I thought you sounded different…..

5argeTech / · January 29, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Great background music… Love it..

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