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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Sord M5

Sord M5


Sord (Japan)
Often sold under the brand name CGL for Computer Games Ltd



Date Launched

Early 1983


Soon reduced to £100

Microprocessor type

Zilog Z80A @ 3.58 MHz

ROM size

8 kilobytes

Standard RAM

20 kilobytes
16 KB used for display
4 KB available for programs

Maximum RAM

36 kilobytes

Keyboard type

Rubber sheet, similar to Sinclair Spectrum's, but keys more closely spaced.

Supplied language

BASIC on cartridge

Text resolution

40 x 24 characters
(In monochrome)

Graphics resolution

Up to 256 x 192 pixels

Colours available

But limited to 2 different colours per character square in high resolution.

Example Screenshot

Sord display
A 'Biorhythms' program on the Sord M5. Biorhythms were very popular in Japan.


Three channels through TV

Cassette load speed

2000 baud

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

265 x 182 x 36

Special features

Some (but not all) BASIC keywords could be entered with a single keypress.
Had 2 separate screen pages and the ability to overlay one on the other.

Good points

Built in cartridge and centronics ports.
High build quality.

Bad points

The rubber keyboard was difficult to type on.
4 KB of memory was not enough and it was some time before extra memory became available.
Not much software was written for the M5.
The standard BASIC was integer only.

How successful?

Not a success in the UK. This was made worse by limited availability.


Like many computers released at around the same time, the Sord M5 seems to have been designed to cash in on the market created by the Sinclair Spectrum.
With only a small amount of RAM available for programs, limited BASIC, and a cartridge port built in, the Sord M5 was clearly designed primarily as a games console rather than for programming hobbyists.
The problem was the M5 was not significantly better than the Spectrum overall, it was more expensive, did not have a software base, and the console market was dominated by the likes of Atari.

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