EACA began making computers with the Genie name in 1980. The first model, the Video Genie System started EACA on the road of Z80 based machines that were mostly compatible with the TRS-80 Z80 based machines. I haven’t found any mention of Radio Shack’s opinion of having their machines cloned, which is a bit odd.
Could that have been the first cloning? Probably not. but I digress.
This machine is the Model 3 (EG-3200) and it’s a EACA’s version of the TRS-80 model 3. It hit the market in mid 1982 and while it is functionally close to the TRS-80, it does have some differences.
Firstly, you can see that there is an external keyboard. 86 keys including a number pad. This is connected to the main unit by a ribbon cable and a connector more used to being inside a computer than outside. The use of ribbon cable wouldn’t be acceptable now for cost and electrical noise reasons but it was not unusual back then.
Unusually, mine has been modified to add a push button at the back. The reason for this? No idea… yet.
The main unit houses a monochrome CRT, a pair of floppy disk drives and a number of boards in a card cage that make up the computer proper.
In this photo you can see the floppy drives in the top left and a card cage below them. clearly, this is a big difference from the TRS-80 family. The TRS generally had one main CPU board and an extension board holding the disk controller and perhaps extra RAM. Here we have the various function split across three boards sharing a common backplane. It’s quite a nice move.
The power supply is sitting in the middle of the bottom of the case.
Mechanically the machine is quite nice. The lid is held down by machine screws rather than the more common self tapping screws. The CRT is held into a metal frame by suitable screws. The front bezel is also attached to the steel frame and has its own screws. From this point of view it’s quite nice.
The surprising thing for me is the the electrical connections throughout the machine seem shoddy. The mains cables to the PSU are soldered onto the pins. Normally you would see a connector. The wires from the VDU controller are soldered onto the Samsung CTR board. Why not use connectors? Cheap perhaps? Didn’t know better? I’m not sure but this looks so poor compared to the mechanical arrangements.
Unlike the TRS-80 model 3, the EACA Genie 3 came supplied with CP/M-80 and NEWDOS-80. CP/M out of the box. Terrific.
Here you can see that my machine has been modded again. This time two toggle switches under the floppy drives. At the moment I don’t know what these do but I’m thinking perhaps 40/80 track switch and single/double density. However, they could be write protect switches but as the drive has them build it, that seems unlikely. Time will tell but the wires definitely go off to the disk controller card.
State of play.
Does it work? No.
But it’s not a hopeless case. the first time I put power into the machine, I did’t have the keyboard connected and if sat there flashing the drive lights in turn, repeatedly, but nothing on the screen. When I turn on the machine, with the keyboard, it selects the first drive for a while and then the light goes out. Still nothing on the screen.
I haven’t looked at the video signals with a ‘scope yet but I didn’t notice any static build up on the face of the tube or hear anything from the CRT area so I think there may be a power problem with the monitor.
Here starts another adventure.