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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Tandy MC-10



Tandy Radio Shack (US)


(Micro Color)

Date Launched

Mid 1983



Microprocessor type

Motorola 6803 @ 0.89 MHz

ROM size

8 kilobytes

Standard RAM

4 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

20 kilobytes using 16K RAM pack pictured above

Keyboard type

Calculator style, separate moving keys of less than full size, but better than most cheap keyboards.

Supplied language

Microsoft BASIC

Text resolution

32 x 16 characters

Graphics resolution

64 x 32 pixels using quarter block graphics like the ZX 81:
The hardware actually supported 256 x 192 pixels graphics in two colours, but this was not accessible from BASIC and not mentioned in the manual. Perhaps Tandy were concerned about the MC-10 taking sales away from the more expensive Tandy Color Computer.

Colours available


Example Screenshot

MC-10 display
This screenshot from a 'draughts' game on the MC-10 shows how the lack of high resolution graphics led to a an uninspiring display.


Single channel through television

Cassette load speed

1500 baud

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

216 x 180 x 50

Special features

Some BASIC words were printed on the keys and available with a single keypress.

Good points

Good quality of construction.

Bad points

The BASIC lacked a proper editor. Backspace could be used when entering a line or an entire line could be deleted, but there was no way to modify an existing program line.
RAM was too small for 1983.
High resolution graphics were not easily usable.

Although the MC-10's BASIC was very similar to that of the Tandy Color Computer, software on tape was not transferrable. This was because BASIC words were stored in 'tokenised' form (converted to a single spare character) and the mapping between characters and BASIC words was different for the two computers.
Lower-case characters could not be displayed.

How successful?

Had minimal sales and was withdrawn in June 1984.


The Tandy MC-10 was a cut down version of the Tandy Color Computer, produced to cash in on the market for cheap home computers.
In terms of abilities it was between a Sinclair ZX81 and a Dragon 32.
Unfortunately it was weak in the display area and had too little memory to do anything interesting. Use of an uncommon microprocessor would have discouraged games programmers.
The MC-10 was poor value compared to the Spectrum 16K which was the same price but had 16K of RAM, higher resolution graphics, a better BASIC and a large amount of software.

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