Triumph-Adler was an old German company being fusion
of 2 metalworking companies. They made cars, motorbikes, sewing
machines, typewriters and mechanical calculators. In 1970s they even
made some computer systems. In late 70s and early 80s, they started,
with more or less good results, to sell microcomputers under Alphatronic
name (Like P1, P2... - the Alphatronic P-line was developed
independently, they were these "higher-case" Alphatronics). In 1983, TA
released Alphatronic PC, a 4MHz Z80-powered microcomputer with 64kB of
RAM, which could run in-ROM BASIC (being a home computer) or CP/M from
external 5.25" disk drive connected to system bus. Thus it was possible
to use it both as home and office computer. The Alphatronic PC brought
many changes to Triumph-Adler computers: First of all, it was made in
Japan to TA specification. To compete with office computers, it was
equipped with a full-size keyboard with numeric keypad. There was also a
tape recorder interface to make Alphatronic PC also good for home
computing where floppy drive was too expensive.
Unfortunately Alphatronic PCs were not chosen by many customers. The biggest reason was that at first, TA tried to sell computers like typewriters - under contracts with state agencies, offering an unofficial pre-emptive right to purchase larger batches, which takes time. When they finally decided to push it to shops with quick advertising campaign, the Alphatronic was already obsolete. Later, more problems appeared - poorly designed PCB required more work to make all produced units running, which increased price. Specification assumed no extended graphics, although with some programming it was possible to achieve 160x72 mode and with more fiddling even 640x288, but in 4x4 blocks. For office computer, it had this standard 64kB of memory to run CP/M, but poor extensibility made it not a good choice if more computers had to be used - other machines could be e.g. connected in a serial port network. Another problem was with software - the initial offer was a few games and programs on ROM cartridges and a few on tapes, some games have been licensed and ported. But not much more - so home users were left with computer with almost no software and a slow Kansas City Standard tape recorder. Office users got a bit better situation - there was a CP/M and if they purchased an "Office suite" pack, they got a full word processing package and TA printer.
The Export versions for western countries were branded "Royal". Some last units have been sold by Matmos company under their brand. In 1986 the Triumph-Adler computer division was acquired by Olivetti.
|Year of unit||1983|
|Year of introduction||1983|
|End of production||1985?|
CP/M (with floppy disk drive)
|Display modes:||Text: 40x24, 80x24
Graphics: 80x72, 160x72
|Media:||Tape, cartridge, floppy disk|
Built-in transformer power supply with switching +5V DC regulator
System bus (for connecting floppy drive)
Monochrome video output
|Other peripherals in collection:
|Software accessibility:||Rare (BASIC),
Accessible (disk CP/M)
|My unit is probably from Germany, bought on
their "flea market". Unfortunately its condition was poor -
although it was looking nice on the outside, it was a total
disaster inside - it was definitely in some flood. PCB was
covered with thick dirt and components pins were rusty.
Fortunately, this rust was not coming from pins but transformer
The machine has been entirely, part by part, cleaned with brush and denatured alcohol. The crystallized flux on the keyboard PCB has been cleaned with acetone and keys have been "set to motion" with larger amounts of denatured alcohol. No electrolytic capacitors on mainboard were functional, and only a few on power supply board were OK.
The biggest problem was with keyboard connector which needed lots of cleaning using solvent and later sandpaper. If the computer beeps and hangs, it may be its fault.
However, the computer still didn't start. It gave a H-sync in about 1Hz frequency (variable, constantly changing) and nothing more, even no reaction on Shift-lock key. Although this suggests problem with H-sync generator which is a rare component, the MC6845 sync generator chip is software-programmable, so it points us to CPU which can't execute code enough to program video output in generator. After testing chips on system bus with TTL probe, the memory has been desoldered and 4 chips have been found faulty - after replacing the machine booted up and cleaning the keyboard more made it successfully run.
It should blink screen, beep and run Microsoft BASIC
Loading and saving programs.
The computer has a KCS-type (Kansas City Standard) 300-baud tape interface.
Press Return and play the cassette. You can miss the last " - it'll load anyway. It'll show like:
It skipped 2 not wanted programs. Program name must be
maximum 6 characters long.
Saving is made similar way:
verifies the program in cassette against currently
There was a floppy disk drive for it, in fact two: F1 and F2. The F1 had to be present if floppy disk was used as it contained controller while F2 was just a disk drive.
There are 4 control things on mainboard:
1. DIP Switches:
Switches 1-3 control keyboard layout:
ON-ON-ON - International
OFF-ON-ON - German
ON-OFF-ON - USA
OFF-OFF-ON - French
ON-ON-OFF - British
OFF-ON-OFF - Italian
Switch 4 controls whether the data should be transmitted into Centronics (ON) or serial (OFF) port when LPRINTing and printing from CP/M.
Switch 5 controls PAL (ON, 17.72MHz crystal) or NTSC (OFF, 14.318MHz crystal) display standard.
Switch 6 is not used.
2. Jumper JP101
From left to right: 9600, 4800, 2400, 1200, 600, 300 baud for serial port. By default it sits on 4800, second pins from the left.
3. Jumper JP103
Output level for cassette interface. Pins are numbered from left to right, 1-4. By default, it's on 3-4 for 25mV. 1-2 is for 700mV.
4. Jumper JP102
Usually hard-wired to asynchronous, specifies asynchronous/synchronous communication.
Video pinout - RGB (from schematic):
|6 - R
7 - G
8 - B
2 - GND
4 - H-sync
5 - V-sync
Cassette port pinout (from schematic):
|4 - Tape OUT
5 - Tape IN
8,2 - GND
6,7 - Motor relay
Mainboard power pinout:
GND +5V, +12V, -12V
http://www.retroarchive.org/hardware/Royal/index.html - Software and manual
http://bitsavers.org/bits/Alphatronic/CPM/ - CP/M disks
ftp://ftp.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/pub/cm/alphatronic/ - A larger archive of documentation
https://www.1000bit.it/lista/t/ta/alphatronicpc_ad2.jpg - Advertisement in Italian.
http://oldcomputers.dyndns.org/public/pub/rechner/ta/Triumpf_Adler_Alphatronic_PC-8/manual/ - More docs
http://184.108.40.206/alphatronic/ - Technical Reference Manual with schematic diagrams, poor quality but they are here. ICs are numbered on PCB like IC1008, then look for IC with small number "08" on it - this will be that IC.