If you follow retrocomputing — or you are simply old enough to remember those days — you hear the same names over and over. Commodore, Apple, Radio Shack, and Sinclair, for example. But what about the Lambda 8300? Most people haven’t heard of these but [Mike] has and he has quite a few of them. The computer is similar to a Sinclair ZX81, but not an exact clone. All of his machines need some repairs (he’s promised repair videos are on their way), but for the video below he wired a monitor directly to the PCB to get steady output, so apparently the RF modulator is the failing subsystem in this case.
Once the video cleared up, you can see a walkthrough of running a simple BASIC program. As was common in those days, the computer used an audio cassette recorder for data storage. [Mike] picked up some dedicated recorders meant for computer use, but neither were in working shape. However, a consumer player works fine.
Cassettes are not very reliable, so [Mike] loads the audio into his phone and then uses it for future loads. We were titillated by the quick teardown and wanted to see more, but [Mike] says there are at least two more videos on the way so we guess we’ll have to freeze the video to gawk at the board until they arrive.
These machines were made to be cheap, so the CPU did everything. Keyboard I/O, screen output, and the cassette interface were all directly tied to the CPU with as little hardware assistance as possible. The Sinclair machine was also famous for this, and that made them peculiar to operate as you’ll see in the video. In the United States, these computers were branded as “Your Computer PC 8300” and “Unisonic Futura 8300.” They were sold under other names in different markets but were not as successful as the Sinclair and its direct relatives which reportedly sold about 1.5 million units.
On the one hand, these cheap machines probably launched a lot of budding young programmers. But you also have to wonder how many were opened on Christmas morning and were jammed in the back of a closet, forgotten, by New Year’s?
We haven’t seen any Lambda 8300 emulations, but it was close enough to a ZX81 and those do exist. You can find people still working on these machines, connecting them to the Internet and producing add-on boards.