The PRO-80 Computer

Dublin Core

Title

The PRO-80 Computer

Subject

Hardware: single-board computer

Description

Historical context
(by Z. Stachniak)

PROTEC Microsystems Inc. (or PROTEC) was founded 1981 and incorporated in January 1982 in Point Clair, Quebec. The company's first products were single-board microcomputer kits. The PRO-80 kit was offered in 1981, the PRO-83 in 1984, and the Multi-Lab in 1984. All these computers were designed for the educational and computer hobby markets.

In 1986, PROTEC switched its focus from single board computers to smart sharers -- devices that allowed computers to share peripherals. In the 2nd half of the 1990s, the company addressed the growing popularity of local area networks and the Internet by introducing its new generation of intelligent device sharers, including the WebShare, SOHOLink, and WebBeetle, to provide a shared access to these services. An extensive distribution networks in North America and Europe positioned PROTEC as a provider of choice for such devices.

The WebShare was launched in 1996 at COMDEX/Fall in Las Vegas. It allowed two or three PCs to simultaneously access the Internet using a single modem, a single telephone line, and a single Internet account. The second version of this sherer, more compact and with optional integrated modem was announced during the PC Expo trade show in New York in June 1997.

The SOHOLink was designed to meet the connectivity needs of a small business or a home office operating with multiple computing platforms. It integrated all the features of the WebShare but offered Ethernet ports for networking of up to six computers.

Finally, the WebBeetle was developed to address the demand for Internet and fax access in a local network environment were the demand for such access was high across the network. The sherer was launch during COMDEX/Fall held in Las Vegas in 1998

PRO-80 Microcomputer
The PRO-80 single-board computer kit was PROTEC's first product. Offered in 1981, it was distributed by, among other companies General Electronics of Willowdale, Ontario. According to the PRO-80 assembly manual, the computer was designed to be

   a truly economical and educational system that meets the needs of students, teachers,  experiments or anyone who wishes to know
  or evaluate at a reasonable price the performance of the wonderful machine, the Z-80 [microprocessor].

  [from The PRO-80 Assembly and Operations Manual]

The computer was designed around the popular Zilog Z80 microprocessor and the S-100 bus that allowed the user to expand the system with a variety of S-100 boards available on the market.

Hardware specification
  • CPU: Zilog Z80A,
  • RAM: 1Kb expandable to 2 Kb,
  • EPROM: 1Kb containing the monitor software,
  • ports/interfaces: 2 parallel I/O ports, audio cassette interface,
  • keyboard: 16-key Hex with 8 additional keys,
  • display: 6-position Hex.

PROTEC also offered the PRO-VIDEO expansion card for the PRO-80 that provided:
  • video controller for a standard color or B/W TV,
  • Eprom programmer,
  • up to 22 Kb of RAM.
The card was supported with an 8 Kb editor/assembler. In April 1983, the computer was priced at $169 while its expansion card at $249.

Software and documentation
  • The PRO-80 Assembly and Operations Manual, PROTEC, 1981,
  • monitor (1Kb),
  • editor/assembler (8Kb).

Museum holdings
  • PRO-80 single board computer,
  • The PRO-80 Assembly and Operations Manual, PROTEC, 1981.

Creator

Protec Microsystems Inc.

Coverage

Canada, early 1980s

Files

PRO-80_small.JPG

Citation

Protec Microsystems Inc., “The PRO-80 Computer,” York University Computer Museum Canada, accessed June 15, 2024, https://museum.eecs.yorku.ca/items/show/325.

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