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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 7:21 pm   #1
Cobaltblue
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Default Mattel Aquarius

I was opening Boxes in the loft looking for something and this turned up.

Its probably been boxed since 1988 when we prepared to move to Exeter.

The history is somewhat cloudy but it was bought either late 1983 or early 1984 when they were selling them cheaply ISTR 50 I think in WH Smiths.

The plan was to use it as a learning tool for my then 1 year old son when he was a bit older.

These were horribly limited but I did make up various interfaces bigger memory and disable the horrible internal basic.

I haven't found the accessories (if indeed I still have them )

My main PC at that time was still an Apple 2

First task is to find a 625 TV with an an analogue tuner!

Might be one in the flat.

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 7:34 pm   #2
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Ironically, machines like that which never really made it into the mainstream are probably considerably more valuable than run of the mill 'successful' machines like the ZX81 which sold in vastly greater numbers and are much easier to find.

I do remember the machine but don't know much about it. What are the specs (processor , speed, memory etc), do you know? And is it colour or monochrome?

If you can't find an analogue capable TV maybe you have an analogue VCR which can be pressed into service as an analogue-rf to SCART output converter? Failing that, you can often just tap off the composite video signal going into the modulator and take that straight to a composite-in on a TV or monitor.
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 7:45 pm   #3
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

There is a bit on it here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattel_Aquarius

Its colour (16) basically a Z80 running at 3.5MHz same as My Nascom

All the analogue 625 stuff is my flat I did find a possibility an old flat screen looks old enough.

Never bought a ZX81 although there is a few kicking around keeping doors open

Will see if I can find the cables tomorrow, its a war zone up there

Cheers

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 8:37 pm   #4
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

I did have a look at that history and then, out of interest, went to see what they have typically sold for, looking only at sold listings.

Given their very limited production run (only several months) I was surprised to find that in some cases they have only gone for about 30-40, but more obviously complete systems (Boxed, with all accessories) seem to go for several hundred pounds. Much probably depends on whether the right person is looking at the right time.

Individual accessories such as the matching cassette recorder seem to vary wildly in price from mere teens to as much as 50-60.

I did also discover that someone has produced a replica Aquarius PCB, so someone must have loved them enough to go to all that trouble.

It will be nice to see if that old machine powers on.
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 8:41 pm   #5
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Well thanks to a ZX81 holding the door to the loft open for me I was able to find an Analogue TV.

Its a bit grainy as I can't remember how to fine tune the set

But its working not bad considering it was probably last powered in the Mid 1980's

The sound also comes though the TV
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 8:42 pm   #6
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
Ironically, machines like that which never really made it into the mainstream are probably considerably more valuable than run of the mill 'successful' machines like the ZX81 which sold in vastly greater numbers and are much easier to find.
>>
>>

Yes, I remember these - I think they were in the Argos Catalogue back then but as the above Wikipedia page mentions they weren't around for long, so are now very rare - One of many others like the Elan Enterprise, Sam Coupe etc. that made it to market too late to be a success.

Mattel had a bit more luck with the Intellivision computer games console (although I'm not sure the promised full-keyboard to convert it into a proper computer ever emerged) - But surprisingly the Intellivision doesn't seem very sought-after, as I bought one for < 10 with many cartridges and sold it for 10 after a brief play with it about 15years ago.

I did recently discover a website archive of all documents relating to the Intellivision, which has some good-colour scanned Mattel catalogues on it - And just looking in the 1983 one, it does have quite a few pages on the Aquarius (But not sure all the peripherals like the MODEM etc were actually ever released): http://papaintellivision.com/pdfs/Catalog1983.pdf

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 8:51 pm   #7
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

I don't know what else is up there there are at least 150 more boxes to open + those in the flat, I never had the Mattel cassette deck I used a Grundig portable same as I used on the Nascom and others. There's a Tatung Einstein up there somewhere another rare beast.

Cheers

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 8:53 pm   #8
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Quote:
But its working not bad considering it was probably last powered in the Mid 1980's
A good result - I see a Microsoft prompt there - what was it that was so bad about the original BASIC? (A subset of Microsoft Basic, or so I understand?).

Some friends of mine had a Tatung Einstein, a nice machine with its built in disc drives, quite a luxury at the time, although I seem to remember they were 3" discs as per the Spectrum +3 - they could be quite hard to come by now. Another decent machine which fell at the first marketing fence. I do remember they had a version of the space combat / trading game ELITE for it though, so that's at least one mainstream game which did get produced for it. Probably a port from the Spectrum version.

I would quite like an Oric Atmos (Not the original Oric-1) but I doubt that I could afford one now.

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 9:05 pm   #9
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

To Big To slow if you find magazines of the time they all disliked it for those reasons.

I mainly ran Xtal Basic (when I used Basic at all) which came with a hackers guide so you could add your own commands and links into all the sub routines it was cheaper faster smaller and more accurate on angles.

I was really interested in Computers from 1975 to around 1985 by which time the IBM PC had taken over and the rest is history.

The IBM PC made me loose all interest for almost a decade.

Cheers

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 9:08 pm   #10
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
Quote:
But its working not bad considering it was probably last powered in the Mid 1980's
A good result - I see a Microsoft prompt there - what was it that was so bad about the original BASIC (A subset of Microsoft Basic, or so I understand?).
Well with only 8KB ROM - Half that of the Spectrum etc. for OS + (Regular) BASIC, it seems there was an Extended BASIC Cartridge: https://www.vdsteenoven.com/aquarius/extended.php

And seems the MkII version of the Aquarius was never released:
http://justsolve.archiveteam.org/wik...tokenized_file

Although this says there was a MkII but not a MkIII: https://www.vdsteenoven.com/aquarius/

There are some discussions over its BASIC compared to Atari VCS expansion:
https://atariage.com/forums/topic/21...-the-aquarius/

And quite a few Youtube videos on the Aquarius, including a Trash to Treasure one like there was for the PET.
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 9:20 pm   #11
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Xtal Basic had more features than the full blown Microsoft which was around 13K ISTR and Xtal Basic was less than 7K.

I was a member of the Devon computer society back in the late 70's early 80's and no one could understand why Microsoft tried to use all of the then common RAM size of 16K and 16K of ROM was a lot back then.

If I can find it I will share the Xtal Basic Hackers Guide.

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 9:31 pm   #12
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post

Some friends of mine had a Tatung Einstein, a nice machine with its built in disc drives, quite a luxury at the time, although I seem to remember they were 3" discs as per the Spectrum +3 - they could be quite hard to come by now. Another decent machine which fell at the first marketing fence. I do remember they had a version of the space combat / trading game ELITE for it though, so that's at least one mainstream game which did get produced for it. Probably a port from the Spectrum version.

I would quite like an Oric Atmos (Not the original Oric-1) but I doubt that I could afford one now.

I got an Einstein (free I think as dumped at end of a radio rally?) many years ago, but need to fix it one day.


I also got a non-working Oric Atmos (but with a space keybar key missing and broken keyboard connector for 1.50 a few years ago - But board was missing the ULA. And after getting an empty Oric-1 case (which uses the same board), I put it into that instead - As I thought the original was more classic.

Someone had been trying to sell an unboxed Oric-1 for around 30 at recent rallies, and I was thinking I'd have to try and replicate the obsolete ULA in mine. But after finding a reverse-engineering of it, I also discovered there are still stocks in Bulgaria on the 'Bay for a few pounds. So after recently buying a couple, I need to see if mine will work.

I did nearly buy an Oric-1, when they came out and used one a friend got. But ended-up going for the Spectrum, that most others had got.
An Uncle later had one, and I discovered they strangely used a 7905 regulator, and 'positive-earth' from ext. PSU.
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 9:48 pm   #13
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

I used my Einstein to do the accounts write letters I had a database of all my Radios of the time. Used it as my diary ISTR there was a stupid game on it called Chucky Egg?

It would last been powered up prior to moving end of 1988

I have the matching monitor,

The Einstien used Xtal Dos and Xtal Basic and could run CPM

Xtal research was owned by a member here.

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 12:16 pm   #14
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

I have an Aquarius which is still hiding in the loft somewhere. Think I bought it at a boot sale for a pound in the early nineties. Thought it was interesting because I'd never seen one before and now I know why. It came with one game cartridge although I can't remember the title. Worked well enough but didn't get used much.

Alan
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 12:41 pm   #15
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

I also have an Aquarius with most of the accessories expansion units etc etc ,
Still boxed albeit a bit tatty and a few carts like Tron disc and others i cant remember.
There was another version of it marketed under the Radofin name too.
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Old 2nd May 2021, 11:01 am   #16
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Default Re: Mattel Aquarius

Posts on the Door Wedge (Sinclair ZX81) Moved to a new Thread here.

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=179624.

Cheers

Mike T
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