The gaming computer you dreamed of in 1983

It's called the "TV computer," and it is the awesome mid-1980s 8-bit computer that never was, but now is. Sold in the far east and India as a bare bones educational model, it's an 8-bit machine with an integrated keyboard, a 1MHz 6502 CPU and a toothy expansion port–no different, technologically, from computers sold in the west in the early 1980s. With another 25 years of game and software development between us, however, it somehow seems more perfect than even the best machines of the time: in addition to the expected BASIC interpreter, there's a Windows-manager UI, a bunch of free game development apps, game controllers with a full complement of buttons, and a proper mouse. It even comes with an adapter that lets it run NES carts! and MAKE are responsible for bringing it to our shores:
Therefore, in order to build our open-source developer community, we’re teaming up with to sell TV-computers to potential developers in the USA– and at the same time, raise money to support The Playpower Foundation. If there is enough demand for these in the USA, we may even be able to start shipping versions that can directly play old NES cartridges! (the current version requires a 72-pin to 60-pin converter, which is sold separately).
Product Page [Makershed via technabob and]

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16 Responses to The gaming computer you dreamed of in 1983

  1. dculberson says:

    Rob, I didn’t mean the TV game things, but (I thought) this exact machine – nes compatible slot, keyboard, and all, but without the controllers. I didn’t think about the controllers – those are nice to have. I could also be mistaken. A couple minutes of searching didn’t turn up the story.

  2. meadhbh says:

    w00t! mine just came in the mail.

    i penned a brief blog entry about my impressions if anyone’s interested…

    the precis:

    * the price is right
    * the keyboard sux
    * the controllers and mouse rock
    * there are NO docs.
    * most labels on the cartridge it ships with are in chinese

    buy a used commodore-64 from ebay if you’re trying to relive the glory days of 8-bit. the keyboard and language issues and the need to buy an adapter to play NES games will probably annoy the living heck out of you.

    but if you’re like me and you have an interest in developing educational software, there’s a community and an installed base around this system, so there’s a chance your software could actually teach someone something somewhere.

  3. error404 says:

    Interesting how the control pads almost exactly foreshadow the Play Station 1 style controllers.

  4. arkizzle says:


    Foreshadow? I’m pretty sure they are post-PS1 clones.

  5. Rob Beschizza says:

    That’s it! Same people, by the look of things.

  6. Luke1972 says:

    If this had a modem it would be great fun phoning up BBS’s for the true 80’s experience.

  7. dculberson says:

    Awesome, Rob, thanks for helping confirm that I’m only losing my memory, and not making new ones up wholesale.

  8. Jonathan Badger says:

    What do these use for storage? Cassette tape, as early Western home computers used? Or can you save your BASIC programs at all?

  9. OM says:

    …Holy frack! They still *make* 6502s???

  10. Bavi_H says:

    @Dculberson: It was mentioned on Offworld (PlayPower turning NES/Famicom clones into learning tools for the developing world), which also links to the Wired post.

  11. SkullHyphy says:

    But what is the visual theremin mode?

  12. dculberson says:

    Very cool, and I’m glad to see it available in the US. But didn’t I read (here?) previously that this costs the equivalent of about $10 or $20 overseas?

  13. Rob Beschizza says:

    I think you can get similar things for $12 — Wired did a story on it — but this particular model has Nice Things like the controllers and expansion slot that makes it interesting to modern game devs

    (as opposed to being no different from an eBayed trash 80)

  14. kossmikman says:

    From the product page :

    “”Visual Theremin” Mode”


  15. airship says:

    Think I’ll stick with my Commodore 64.

  16. Downpressor says:

    So this kind of assumes someone has reversed the Famicom/NES bit?

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