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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The UK 101

Magazine cover of launch of UK 101


Compukit, part of COMP Components (UK)


UK 101

Date Launched

August 1979


£240 as a kit
In 1982 it was selling for £125 as a kit or £175 ready-assembled.

Microprocessor type

MOSTEK 6502 @ 1 MHz
Could easily be 'overclocked' to 2MHz.

ROM size

10 kilobytes (8KB for BASIC, 2KB for monitor)

Standard RAM

4 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

8 kilobytes onboard, or 40KB with external expansion.
Additional 1 kilobyte for the display.

Keyboard type

Typewriter style

Supplied language

Microsoft BASIC

Text resolution

48 x 16 characters

Graphics resolution

No pixel graphics but 128 graphics characters were available.

Colours available




Cassette load speed

300 baud

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

305 x 370 x 25 approx.
Not known

Special features

Although the basic features were somewhat limited, the UK 101 was designed for expansion and it was possible to add sound, colour, disk drives etc.

Good points

The standard 4 kilobytes of RAM was more generous than most other early hobbyist computers.
Fairly low price compared to its competitors for a fully usable computer with BASIC and featuring a standard keyboard.

Bad points

The heatsink was too small resulting in a tendency to overheat.
Cased UK 101 and TV displayOwners had to provide their own case, or buy a ready-made one at extra cost such as this one (right).

How successful?

Only sold to electronics enthusiasts who were prepared to solder the kits together themselves, but had a loyal following. Probably a few thousand were sold.


The UK 101 was a single board computer kit aimed at those interested in the hardware side of computing. It was almost a copy of the Superboard II made by Ohio Scientific Industries (also sold as a self-assembly kit), but with an improved VDU display better suited to UK televisions and an onboard voltage regulator.
The Superboard II was in very short supply in the UK with a long backlog of orders and COMP Shop of New Barnet thus produced their own version of it. However there was some dispute as to whether the UK 101 was fully authorised by Ohio, which led to legal wrangling.
The machine was promoted by Practical Electronics magazine which published various articles on constructing and upgrading the UK 101.
The design soon looked dated. It used over 60 integrated circuits whereas the Sinclair ZX81 just two years later used a mere four ICs.

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