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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The MZ-80K



Sharp (Japan)



Date Launched

December 1978 as a kit


£400 in 1982, ready-assembled

Microprocessor type

LH-0080 @ 2 MHz
(Sharp's version of the Z80, made under licence)

ROM size

4 kilobytes

Standard RAM

20 kilobytes
(6 KB left when BASIC loaded)

Maximum RAM

48 kilobytes

Keyboard type

Square moving keys with a pad for graphics symbols.
The key layout was non-standard, the keys were reflective and difficult to read, and the shift key produced lowercase letters.

Supplied language

Sharp BASIC (loaded from tape)

Text resolution

40 x 25 characters

Graphics resolution

No high resolution graphics as standard but the character set contained a wide variety of predefined shapes, line segments and curves.
This made it possible for simple drawings to be built up purely as text.
A graphics expansion card later became available which allowed the character set to be redefined for more flexibility in the display.

Colours available



Single channel through internal speaker

Cassette load speed

1200 baud

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

410 x 470 x 270
14000 with integral monitor

Special features

A self contained unit with 10 inch monitor, cassette and keyboard all in one.
Disc drives were an optional extra though the built-in cassette largely made them unnecessary.

Good points

Other languages could be loaded instead of BASIC.
Included a real time clock.

Bad points

Keyboard was confusing.

How successful?

Sold well in Europe.


The Sharp MZ-80K was one of the earliest desktop computers and was clearly designed to compete with the Commodore PET.
One design fault was that the volume control for the built-in speaker was inside the case.

MZ-80AThe later MZ-80A model had a similar specification but incorporated a standard keyboard.

MZ-80BIn 1982 came the MZ-80B with a restyled case, a 4MHz Z80A, 32 KB of RAM as standard and high resolution graphics (though still in monochrome via a 9 inch green monitor).

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