The VZ300

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Release Date

The VZ300 was released in July 1985. Originally released at $199, by November 1985 it was reduced down to $99. It may have been priced at $149 at some point between July and November as Dick Smith advertisements claim that is was reduced from $149 to $99.

The VZ300 was an improved version of the VZ200 rather than a major redesign. The most important improvements included a full stroke keyboard and 18K RAM (16K user RAM and 2K video RAM). Interestingly enough the Z80A CPU in the VZ300 was clocked slightly slower than the VZ200 (3.54MHz as opposed to 3.58MHz).

Probably just as exciting as the release of the VZ300 was the simultaneous release of the disk drive. This allowed a much speedier loading of programs than from tape and was a real advance for VZ users.


Specifications

  • CPU: The VZ300 was powered by a Z80A CPU running at 3.54MHz.
  • ROM: 16K ROM in one chip. The ROM contains Microsoft's BASIC interpreter.
  • RAM: 18K RAM in total, made up of 8 x 16K x 1 bit dynamic RAM chips. This is the most significant design difference compared to the VZ200 as refresh circuitry for the dynamic RAMs had to be provided. Video RAM is provided by a 2K static RAM.
  • Keyboard: a 46-key full stroke keyboard with moulded plastic keytops is provided. The keyboard layout was changed so that a full size spacebar is possible. Most keys have 4 possible meanings when used with the Shift and Ctrl keys.
  • Display Output: both RF and composite video are available.
  • Graphics: provided by a 6847P-1 video controller chip. There are two graphics modes. Mode 0 (Text/Lo-Res Graphics) gives 16 x 32 characters . Mode 1 (Hi-Res Graphics Mode) gives 64 x 128 pixels.
  • Sound: a piezo speaker is driven by a push-pull latch.
  • Input/Output: a 600 baud cassette interface is provided as standard. All other input/output requires expansion modules.


Bundle

The VZ300 was also sold in a bundle as the 'VZ300 Family Pack'. The bundle sold for $169 and included a VZ300, a slimline data cassette recorder, two games and two educational programs. This was after the price reduction to $99 for the VZ300.


Versions

There are at least two versions of the VZ300, distinguished by the colour of the keyboard. The keyboards came in a cream colour and a dark brown colour.


Sources: VZ300 Technical Manual; ETI November 1985; AEM February 1986; APC April 1987


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