Exidy Sorcerer II

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The Sorcerer was one of the early home computer systems, released in 1978 by the videogame company, Exidy. It was comparatively advanced when released, given its competition of Commodore PET and TRS-80, but due to a number of problems including a lack of marketing, the machine remained relatively unknown. Exidy eventually pulled it from the market in 1980, and today they are a coveted collector's item.

The Sorcerer was first launched in 1978 at a price of US$895. It was powered by a Zilog Z80 running at 2.106 MHz with 8 kilobytes of RAM. The expansion systems and drives were released at the same time.

It was the first home computer with a ROM cartridge port for instant program access (most home users struggled with slow, error-prone cassette tape storage in the late 1970s).  The designers cleverly re-purposed 8-track tape shells to hold the ROM cartridge circuit board and a Microsoft BASIC cartridge was included with every unit.

Exidy initially provided an expansion chassis that would accept up to 6 S-100 bus cards, and a Micropolis dual-disk quad-density 16-sector hard sector floppy disk drive was available.

Sales in Europe were fairly strong, via their distributor, CompuData Systems. The machine had its biggest brush with success in 1979 when the Dutch broadcasting company TELEAC decided to introduce their own home computer. The Belgian company DAI was originally contracted to design their machines, but when they couldn't deliver, CompuData delivered several thousand Sorcerers instead.

By 1980 Exidy had already decided to give up on the machine, but sales in Europe were strong enough that CompuData decided to license the design for local construction in the Netherlands. They built the machine for several years before developing their own 16-bit Intel 8088–based machine called the Tulip, which replaced the Sorcerer in 1983.

One of the largest groups in The Netherlands was the ESGG (Exidy Sorcerer Gebruikers Groep) which published a monthly newsletter in two editions, Dutch and English. They were the largest group for a while in the HCC (Hobby Computer Club) federation. The Dutch company De Broeders Montfort was a major firmware manufacturer.

The Sorcerer also had a strong following in Australia. This is most likely due to Dick Smith Electronics, a leading electronics and hobbyist retailer at the time, pushing the Sorcerer quite heavily. The Sorcerer Computer Users group of Australia (or SCUA) actively supported the Sorcerer long after Exidy discontinued it, with RAM upgrades, speed boosts, the "80 column card", and even a replacement monitor program, SCUAMON.

The Sorcerer was an interesting combination of parts from a standard S-100 bus machine, combined with their custom display circuitry. The machine included the Zilog Z80 and various bus features needed to run the CP/M operating system, but placed them inside a "closed" box with a built-in keyboard similar to machines like the Commodore PET, the Commodore 64, and the Atari 8-bit family. Unlike those machines, the Sorcerer's keyboard was a high quality unit with full "throw". The keyboard included a custom "Graphics" key, which allowed easy entry of the extended character set, without having to overload the Control key, the more common solution on other machines. Somewhat ahead of its peers, the Sorcerer included lower case characters as a standard feature.

There are at least two version of the Sorcerer. The original motherboard (model DP1000-1) had hardware issues with the RS232 serial communications, according to "The computermuseum", and was redesigned and released as the more common Sorcerer II (model DP1000-2). The Sorcerer II also increased the maximum RAM from 32K to 48K.

Released: 1978
Model: DP1000-1, DP1000-2
Price: US$895 with 8K RAM
          US$1150 with 16K RAM
          US$1395 with 32K RAM
CPU: Zilog Z-80 @ 2MHz
RAM: 8K, 16K, 32K
Display: composite video (B&W)
 512 x 240, 64 x 30 text
Ports: composite video, cassette, serial, parallel, cart, bus
Storage external cassette
optional floppy drive
OS: 'Monitor' in ROM
 BASIC, CP/M in cart or floppy

Our model is the Sorcerer II model No: DP1000-2 with a serial number of 02290-717-11 and was very kindly donated by Eric Everatt who has supplied a large collection of Sorcerer documentation. The Sorcerer is complete with the original box and manual.

Manufacturer: Exidy
Date: 1978

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Exidy Sorcerer II Manuals:

Item Manufacturer Date
Sorcerer: Guided tour of personal computing Exidy Feb 1979

Magazines RELATED to Exidy Sorcerer II in our Library

Item Manufacturer Date
Practical Computing - December 1978 ECC Dec 1978
Practical Computing - January 1979 ECC Jan 1979
Practical Computing - February 1979 ECC Feb 1979
Practical Computing - April 1979 ECC Apr 1979
Practical Computing - May 1979 ECC May 1979
Personal Computer World - May 1979 May 1979
Personal Computer World - June 1979 Jun 1979
Personal Computer World - July 1979 Jul 1979
Practical Computing - August 1979 ECC Aug 1979
Practical Computing - September 1979 ECC Sep 1979
Personal Computer World - September 1979 Sep 1979
Practical Computing - October 1979 ECC Oct 1979
Practical Computing - December 1979 IPC Electrical Electronic Press Dec 1979
Dragon User - May 1985 May 1985
Zero - September 1991 Dennis Publishing 1 Sep 1991
Zero - November 1991 Dennis Publishing 1 Oct 1991
Amiga Action - February 1992 Euro Press Interactive Feb 1992
Acorn User - January 1995 23 Jun 2009
Acorn User - May 1995 23 Jun 2009
Acorn User - June 1995 23 Jun 2009
Acorn User - September 1995 1 Jul 2009

Other Systems Related To Exidy Sorcerer II:

Item Manufacturer Date
Exidy Sorcerer II Exidy 1978

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH5396. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Exidy Sorcerer II

  Book Archive   [1]
  Games Archive   [4]
  Software Archive   [1]
  Peripherals   [2]

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