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The Z80 had a massive presence in the 8-bit revolution, but I can’t remember any system with a Z8000. Did it ever hit this market?

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    A related question, but perhaps not quite a duplicate, is this one. Sep 4, 2023 at 7:39
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    There also was a "Z800" that wasn't very popular, too. The Z800 would be binary-compatible with the Z80, but the Z8000 won't. there also was an R800.
    – U. Windl
    Sep 4, 2023 at 12:19
  • @U.Windl Z800 was, like it's renamed Z280 variant, not only quite late (1985/87) and never successful in any way but also only partiality compatible. The R800 was a reimplementation of the Z80 by ASCII with different bus timing. There were also quite a few more, more or less Z80 compatible designs. Including a V-Series variation with Z80 instructions instead of 8080. But that's all non related, or is it?
    – Raffzahn
    Sep 4, 2023 at 15:42
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    You might enjoy this hobby project: the Clover computer. From all the way back in 2022.
    – Davislor
    Sep 4, 2023 at 18:08
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    @Raffzahn Z800 may be unrelated to the actual question, but when asking why the Z80 wasn't replaced by a better variant in home computers, the Z800 came into my mind before the Z8000 (or Z80000).
    – U. Windl
    Sep 5, 2023 at 7:49

2 Answers 2

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The Z8000 was in the Olivetti M20 system which came out around 1982.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivetti_M20

As you might imagine with the IBM-PC and clones ascendant it didn't go very far.

Although Olivetti did try. I remember fondly one showing up to a computer show in a small town in southeastern British Columbia, Canada.

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    Coming out 6 months after the PC at twice the price, the M20 had little chance of beating it, even if it did have better performance.
    – Chris Dodd
    Sep 4, 2023 at 0:24
  • Thanks, I imagine it will be a search to find one nowadays :)
    – ABM K
    Sep 4, 2023 at 7:52
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    @ABMK I wouldn't qualify the M20 as homecomputer, more of what later was called a workstation. It did make quite some sales in Europe. There was also a Z8001 CPU board for the later 8086 based M24, so it could run M20 PCOS application.
    – Raffzahn
    Sep 4, 2023 at 9:12
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    The closest to a "home computer" maybe was the Commodore 900 (clearly, it was intended as a business machine, but from a "home computer vendor") that never saw the light of day. Not a home computer as well, but at least gaming: Some Namco arcade machines used the CPU.
    – tofro
    Sep 4, 2023 at 9:52
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    You could also maybe count the Trump Card Z8000 co-processor card for the IBM PC into at least the peripherals of home computing
    – tofro
    Sep 4, 2023 at 9:55
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Did the Z8000 ever hit the home computer market?

No, the Z8000 was almost exclusively used in professional multi-user systems like various Unix (ZEUS) or Olivetti's mid range BCOS systems (*1). The only noteworthy non-Unix desktop systems would be

Of those only the first two sold in large numbers, mostly in Europe.

The Trump card demonstrated the Z8000 capabilities nicely by showing a 10-fold speed increase compared to the base PC for BASIC programs.


enter image description here

[Framed M20 Mainboard in my living room]

While I added it of course for bragging rights, there's also an interesting period detail to note: The memory.

For one it features only 128 KiB RAM on board, every thing else to go into the memory expansion slots. Thus during design management didn't believe people would need much more on average ... kinda like with the PC's original 64 KiB.

Even more telling that there are 8 possible ROM positions, good for up to 512 KiB ROM. Quite as if they imagined it to be delivered without floppies but BASIC and other software in ROM. When it was due to introduction only half was fitted with sockets and of those only two with 4 KiB were fitted. Unlike the IBM PC which not only still featured a full BIOS ROM but BASIC as well.

Perfect example from the period of moving from ROM based machines with optional floppies to disk based ones. Atari ST and Amiga being two more examples of that move, albeit still on the way as they used lots of ROM for their base OS.


*1 - Sure, with a 'reasonable' filled bank account even a Cray could be bought as home computer, but I would like to think of that as an extreme stretch, contrary to definition.

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    Even with unlimited money, I think a "home" computer shouldn't require changes to the home (thinking mainly of the electricity supply upgrade you'd need for that Cray). Sep 4, 2023 at 13:06
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    @TobySpeight A Y-MP can run of basic 230V mains :))
    – Raffzahn
    Sep 4, 2023 at 15:44
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    @Raffzahn A tour of your home to peruse the "artwork" framing the walls would be very interesting and enlightening. I have some period pieces but none are framed and displayed.
    – doneal24
    Sep 4, 2023 at 18:18
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    @doneal24 might sound more impressive than there is to see. My home is the usual man cave of someone with no desire to throw away perfectly good hardware or books. I've put only a few boards into frames. Was a short phase where I picked old 'masterworks' at car boot sales to replace the 'art' afterwards. Also only nice large boards, like PET, Apple II, IBM PC, said Olivetti, some arcade boards, etc. Figured it would make more sense than having them stored in boxes or scrapped for parts - but wasn't as great as they are now prime magnets for dust.
    – Raffzahn
    Sep 5, 2023 at 21:33
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    I used to have the main board and graphics card of my old 286 PC hanging on a wall as art, but unfortunately I no longer have them. :(
    – occipita
    Sep 6, 2023 at 21:33

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