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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Microtan 65

Microtan 65 board and hexpad


Tangerine Computer Systems (UK)


Microtan 65

Date Launched

December 1979


£75 as a kit
£86 built

Microprocessor type

MOSTEK 6502 @ 0.75 MHz

ROM size

1 kilobyte

Standard RAM

1 kilobyte

Maximum RAM

Theoretically 328 kilobytes using paging and the optional rack mount case.

Keyboard type

20 key hexadecimal keypad as shown at top.
A full alphabetic keyboard was extra.

Supplied language

Monitor 'TANBUG' (Used for programming in machine code.)
BASIC was extra.

Text resolution

32 x 16 characters

Graphics resolution

64 x 64 pixels character block graphics. Could be expanded to 256 x 256 pixel resolution.

Colours available

Monochrome as standard, colour available as an upgrade.

Example Screenshot

Microtan 65 display
Space Invaders using block graphics on the Microtan 65.



Cassette load speed

300 or 2400 baud using expansion board

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

110 x 205 x 25 (circuit board only)
Not known

Special features

The cheapest real 'computer' at the time it was launched.

Good points

Had great expansion potential. It was eventually possible to add high resolution colour graphics, sound, RS232 interface et al.

Bad points

All you got for the purchase price above was the main printed circuit board and a small keypad.
The Microtan 65 could just about be used in this form (with the addition of a power supply) to run programs written in 6502 machine code, and it had a UHF modulator to use a TV as the display.
To make a proper computer you also had to buy a QWERTY keyboard, a BASIC ROM, a case and more RAM. The system might then look like this:

Fully cased Microtan 65

How successful?

Quite popular among computer hobbyists and developers.


Tangerine Computer Systems went on to develop the Oric 1.

See a review of the Microtan 65.

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