Multitech Micro-Professor II Trainer

Some of the earliest commercial microcomputers were single-board “trainers,” bare-bones systems designed to teach people computer basics. They were crude and often had only a hexadecimal keyboard for input. Trainers appealed mainly to people who already had some technical background such as ham radio operators.

By the 1980s, some of those trainers became more polished and accessible to folks who weren’t so technically inclined. The Micro-Professor is a good example. The Micro-Professor I (MPF-I) was based on a Z80 (an 8088 was available later). It came in a case that opened like a book and was targeted to the education market.

Source: Multitech, 1982

Perhaps to strengthen the appeal to education, the MPF-II had a 6502 CPU and was compatible with the Apple II. It came in a book-sized case with a chiclet keyboard, but it did not open like the MPF-I. Multitech also sold a Chinese-language version called the MPF-IIC.

Source: Multitech, 1982

The MPF series sold reasonably well and examples often come up for sale. They are still a good way for someone to introduce themselves to 8-bit computing. Multitech is still in business, too, having rebranded as Acer in the US in 1987.

Introduced: 1982
Original Retail Price: $399
Base Configuration: 6502 CPU, 64K RAM, built-in 49-key keyboard, cassette storage, Centronics port, speaker, 12K BASIC
Video: 40 characters x 25 lines, 6 colors
Important Options: thermal printer, joystick

Albert Apple IIe Clone

Source: Albert Computers 1983

The Albert was one of the better Apple IIe clones, but it looked more like a PC in form. The company called the two-piece design “stereo styling.”

Marketing for the Apple emphasized how much the Albert was like the Apple IIe, but also different. The Albert had unusual features including a data security lock (apparently the ability to password protect data), a battery/charger backup, voice recognition, a graphics digitizer tablet, and the ability to run on 110V or 220V power.

Like other Apple II clone vendors, Albert would later offer a Z80 coprocessor option to run CP/M software.

Inroduced: April 1983
Original Retail Price: $1,595
Base Configuration: 6502 CPU; AppleDOS 3.3 and Coyotesoft OS; 64K RAM (192K max); five Apple-compatible expansion slots; RGB video port; keyboard; RS-232, RS-422/432, parallel, microphone, and game ports, application suite
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 280 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Important Options: Z80 coprocessor, joysticks, 12-inch monitor