Primo home computer

Primo A home computers

The Primo first Hungarian produced home computer available in shops, was put on the market in 1984. The machine was developed by Microkey Research, Development, Production Association, then was produced by the subsidiary company of MTA SzTAKI, the Cosy: it was promoted with full page newspaper advertisements, with a flush of promotions such as winner games, free gifts like, card-calendars, timetables. With the advertisements and the low price they mostly targeted children and young people. To the fame of the machine also contributed the program lists appearing in the book published to the TV BASIC course, and the articles of the Mikroszámítógép Magazin and the Bit-let, as well as the Primo Füzetek published individually.

The Primo existed in 16, 32 and 48 KB RAM main memory versions. The Hungarian developed - designed by Gábor Örley - capacitive keyboard with many nicknames in Hungarian (“tappantyúzat”, “masszírozantyúzat”) was placed directly on the PCB, and since it didn’t contain moving components, lived for almost “forever”, on the other hand because of their adjustable sensitivity smaller errors were frequent - for example spontaneously repeating characters. The specifically designed form - reminding to an earlier Tandy type - was made of plastic.

The burnt in BASIC programming language, the television set - generally Yunost - that could be used as a monitor, and the everyday used Hungarian BRG MK 27 or MK 29 tape recorder made the Primo a competitive priced, simple, traditional home computer. The more ambitious programmers could, besides BASIC, write programs in Forth and assembly languages; the necessary compilers could be uploaded from the cassette enclosed with the machine, on which, in addition to the demo programs the “adapted copies” of many world-success ZX Spectrum game programs could be found. It acquired cult. For example the game titled “Kelj fel Jancsi <Roly-poly>” became popular, in addition to the numerous skill-based and educational programs, typographical application programs existed as well.

Approximately 7000 copies were assembled until 1986 by the employees of Új Élet MgTsz of Sárisáp; among these approximately 1000 copies were the professional, push button keyboard equipped version, the Primo-B. On the second school-computer competition?as the top achievement of the developers?the prototype of another version also featured, by the name of Pro-Primo, to which besides the colour graphic display several peripheral devices could be connected. However, this type wasn’t manufactured, because relatively few orders arrived from the schools. Although the initial aim of the competition was to support the Hungarian computer industry, and the Pro-Primo got first price in the high school category and third in basic school category, the absolute winner of the competition became the Commodore16 computer family distributed on a more competitive price?

So the Primo didn’t become the “Hungarian ZX Spectrum”, and not only because of the shortcomings of its keyboard, but?although it had a 192*256 pixel resolution?its black and white graphic display couldn’t win against the “private import” competition, its price was pushed up by the expensive power supply unit (people called “grill oven”). Even so, its role is significant, because thousands of teenagers become attached to computer. Its history doesn’t end here: the fans of the brand even today run a homepage about the “Primi” containing rich documentation materials, what’s more they “reproduce” the machine, and use them with pleasure.