The Socrates is an educational console, and is named after the robot character, himself named after the famous Philosopher.
It has a highly unusual design, where the controller fits on the main console in a diagonal profile, and is wireless, able to talk to the console comfortably at a distant of about 5 feet. The controller has a keyboard, and two wired controllers come from the control unit.
The machine has a Z80 processor, but seemed to have very slow video hardware, which is noticeable when the console tries to draw a new scene on screen. This may have been a deliberate act to show the picture being drawn, as if quickly by an artist. But it gained the machine a reputation for being cripplingly slow, this and the bafflingly high cost, put it out of the reach of it's target market.
The Socrates was on the market for barely two years when it was discontinued, mainly due to the price of PC hardware falling considerably, with a huge wealth of cheaper and superior software.
The basic machine contains five programs, Maths Problems, Word Problems, Word games, Music Games, and Super Painter. The first two tested basic Maths skills, Spelling and sentence construction.
Word games was about solving anagrams, and a spelling racing game, where a successful spell would complete laps of a race track. The Music Games part allowed for rudimental tune construction, listen to folk songs or Simon says with different notes. Super Painter was for creating simple drawings with simple tools, such as brushes, colors, pre stored backgrounds and clip art. This part of the program was used by V-Tech later for their Video Painter line.
Additional programs could be purchased on carts that looked rather like 3.5 Disks, they included Brain Teaser programs, problem solving, trivia, advanced maths and geography, with the addition of the mouse, the was CAD Professor, which concentrated on architecture design, textiles and fashion design.
The touch tablet also allowed for the practice of writing, and also made the Super Painter program easier to use. The touch tablet did rely on the student looking at the screen regularly to check what they were drawing on the pad was correct.
The system also featured voice capabilities through the use of an add-on voice cartridge compatible with all games, which could be purchased separately., though there was a very noticeable delay between the voice and commands being carried out.
There were a total of nine carts released for the Socrates, they are now very hard to find.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH63447. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.