Exidy Sorcerer

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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.




Having recently sold his share of the seminal personal computer stores, the Byte Shop, Paul Terrell started looking for new ventures. He eventually convinced the founders of Exidy, H.R."Pete" Kauffman and Howell Ivy, that a truly simple computer with reasonable performance still wasn't available. At the time, the PET and TRS-80 offered the out-of-the-box experience he felt was necessary, but these lacked the graphics he felt would be needed, and required the use of a computer monitor which drove up the price. The Apple II offered both graphics and color, but required at least some user assembling to get operational. His dream machine would combine these features.

The result was the Sorcerer. It was powered by a Zilog Z80 running at 2.106 MHz with 4 to 48 kilobytes of RAM, giving it performance parity with the TRS-80. In its basic form it consisted of a single chassis containing the computing hardware with the keyboard on top, a layout that became common with machines like the Atari 800 and Commodore VIC-20. In this form it could be attached to a 3rd party computer monitor and used with software loaded from the "ROM-PAC" cartridges and a cassette tape drive as a low-cost offering. For larger systems, the base unit could be attached to an external S-100 expansion chassis that sat behind the console, allowing cards to expand the system as well as offering floppy disk support.

Launch and US failure

The Sorcerer was first launched in April 1978 at the PERCOMP convention in Long Beach, California at a price of US$895. The expansion systems and drives were released at the same time. However, shipments did not start until later that summer.[1] However, the machine never sold well in the US, likely due to the introduction of newer machines like the Atari 800 that offered many more features (including color graphics and sound) and directly supported television sets for output, reducing overall system costs.

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