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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Pied Piper

Pied Piper


Semi-Tech Microelectronics Corporation (Canada)


Pied Piper Communicator I

Date Launched

May 1983


About £1000

Microprocessor type

Zilog Z80A @ 4MHz

ROM size

4 kilobytes
(2KB OS loader, 2KB character generator)

Standard RAM

66 kilobytes
(64KB main memory + 2KB for screen)

Maximum RAM

66 kilobytes?

Keyboard type

Typewriter style, 62 keys

Supplied language

No programming language but the CP/M 2.2 operating system was provided.

Text resolution

40 x 24 or 80 x 24 characters.
In 40-column mode on a TV the display acted as a window onto an 80-column screen.

Graphics resolution

No graphics

Colours available




Cassette load speed

No cassette interface.
Had a built-in 5¼ inch floppy disk drive of 820KB capacity.

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

510 x 270 x 100
6000 (figures for keyboard/disk drive unit only)

Special features

Had a carrying handle at the back of the keyboard to make it portable, and a clip-on protective cover for the keys.
A two-line by 80-column LCD display was available to avoid the need to carry around a monitor.

Good points

CP/M compatible.
Supplied with database, wordprocessor and spreadsheet software.

Bad points

It was difficult to run CP/M applications without an additional external disk drive.
The control-key commands for the bundled software were reported to be highly complex.

How successful?

Not certain but the Pied Piper was not a popular model.


The monitor and stand pictured above were extras.
The Pied Piper Communicator was intended as a business computer and marketed as a 'portable'. However unlike the Osborne 1 and Osborne Executive portables, the Pied Piper lacked a built-in display and second disk drive. It also needed mains power so it was more of a 'movable' than a self-contained portable.
By 1983 the IBM PC running DOS was beginning to replace CP/M business computers and the Pied Piper had little to distinguish it in a crowded marketplace.

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