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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The RML 380Z



Research Machines Limited (UK)



Date Launched

Late 1979 ?


From approx. £2000 including monochrome monitor

Microprocessor type

Zilog Z80A @ 4 MHz

ROM size

6 kilobytes

Standard RAM

Originally 4 kilobytes, later 32KB.

Maximum RAM

64 kilobytes

Keyboard type

Typewrite style, separate from processor/disc drive unit

Supplied language

None in ROM
Extended BASIC and others could be loaded from tape or disc.

Text resolution

40 or 80 columns x 24 lines

Graphics resolution

None as standard
80 x 72, 160 x 96 or 320 x 192 pixels with optional graphics card containing its own 16KB of RAM.

Colours available

4 or 8 colours with expansion card.


None without extra hardware

Cassette load speed

300 - 2400 baud, but usually fitted with twin 300KB floppy disc drives.

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

595 x 425 x 215 (main unit)
Not known

Special features

Very robust rack-style steel case for main unit, incorporating a key lock and two 5¼ inch floppy disk drives.

Good points

The monitor program in ROM allowed the user to view and modify all the Z80A registers and memory locations, making the 380Z good for learning machine code programming.
A standard version of the CP/M operating system became available.
There was room inside the case for expansion boards.

Bad points

The 380Z was extremely expensive, putting it beyond the home market.

How successful?

Sold well to schools and higher education, but not as a home computer.
Research Machines are still in business in 2007, selling Windows PCs to schools.


The Research Machines 380Z was designed specifically for the education market and its robustness appealed to schools. However it was over specified and overpriced for the home market.
A 280Z model had been planned, as a kit version of the 380Z, but was never sold.

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