Retro Computers - Tatung Einstein - Retro Computers

Retro Computers - Tatung Einstein
Tatung Einstein
The Tatung Einstein was an 8-Bit home computer produced by the Taiwanese corporation Tatung. The machine iteslf was designed and manufactured in England (in Telford). It was aimed primarily at the small busines market and was never marketed as a classic gaming machine.

This machine is a lesser known retro computer - but it certainly deserves a mention.

The Einstein was released onto the UK computer market during the summer of 1984. On top of the basic machine a Tatung monitor (which was available in colour or the slightly cheaper monochrome) and printer were also available as optional add-ons.

The machine was physically a large beast (we're talking almost BBC Micro territory here!), with an option for one or two built-in three-inch Hitachi floppy disk drives.

At the time most home computers used ordinary cassette tapes for data storage - so the floppy disk option was quite something.

Another unusual feature of the Einstein was that on start-up the computer entered a simple machine code monitor which was called MOS (standing for Machine Operating System).

Plenty of software could be loaded in from disk, including a CP/M compatible operating system called Xtal DOS and a BASIC interpreter (called Xtal BASIC).

The Tatung Einstein was more expensive than most of its rivals, and really lacked an obvious niche market other than technically advanced home programmers (it was suitable for people fluent in machine code and 'binary load lifters').

Subsequently the Einstein was commercially unsuccessful in the home market and not many units were sold. This is a shame as all in all it was a pretty useful machine - if only there had been a larger library of arcade games developed for it the story might have been a little different.

It should be noted that some developers used the Einstein to write their machine code before porting it to other systems (some games were developed for the ZX Spectrum this way). It was easier to get straight into coding and store your data this way (no need for Microdrives), as well as testing.

A later, revised version (the Tatung Einstein 256) was released but suffered a similar fate to it's predecessor.

A few classic games were released on the machine such as the arcade games Chuckie Egg, Lazy Jones, the seminal space trading game Elite and the beat em up Yie Ar Kung Fu.

The Einstein came and went with little fanfare but has since become a cult classic system in the ranks of retro computers.

We recommend trying to pick up one of these machines.
Look at computers for sale online or even locally.

If you don't want to get hold of the real hardware then try and download an emulator and download those classic games. Alternatively you could try and play them online.

Retro Computers and Classic Games is what we are all about...


Andy Thomas said...

I realized that it was cheaper to buy an Einstein (Curry's were selling them off cheap) than to buy a disk drive for my Speccy. So I sold my Speccy and used the money to get an Einstein.

It was brill! I loved it!

Why oh why oh why did I not keep it?

Thanks for the article guys!

The Retro Brothers said...

Yeah the Einstein was a good machine that didn't quite get the recognition it deserved.

Cheers mate!

Anonymous said...

I still have mine - but im thinking of selling it. Its complete in its box and with all manuals and disks. :)

The Retro Brothers said...

Really? It'll be worth something still boxed and with the manuals!

Tim said...

The TC01 was a really big machine, dwarfing the BBC Micro.

Keyboards were comparable - which made it great to use.

These machines were not successful in the home market but played a large part in manufacturing through their connectivity.

The final nail was the choice of the technically superior 3 inch disks over the flimsier 3.5 for the built in drive - with no apparent option for a hard drive, with the exception of the space!

Angu3 said...

Hi there i have a Tatung Einstein TC01, complete with pretty much all the manuals & processing disks etc, I was looking to sell it if any one wants to buy it, open to offers,
link to page on gumtree.

Anonymous said...

Found mine in the attic at my parents. Was going to throw it out :)