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A View From Hungary II
Hungarian TVC Computer
More information from Joszef Samu :)
Dear Adrian,
I just found your site, spent here at least an hour and I
decided to write to you, which is very uncommon, because I am
a lazy dog. But there were two things which motivated me.
First of all I love your humor. (I referring to your
WOW,RARE,LOOK article. I rolled on the floor! It is a
masterpiece, honestly!) The second thing is that I know
exactly how does it feel to seeking information hopelessly on items.

You may ask who I am. I am a 33 year old IT journalist from
Hungary. My native tongue is Hungarian, so please forgive me
what I do with the English language. We are sharing the same
hobby, collecting old-timer computers. (Correction, I am
interested in Sinclair related items only.)

I have some related information about the Hungarian history
of the Enterprise computers, which must be interesting for
you. Let me correct you in some cases.

Novotrade purchased the stock of Enterprise computers back in
1987 when it was nothing more than old stock and impossible
to sell in Western Europe. This Hungarian firm was a
software-hardware trading company. They imported hardware
from the west and sold distribution rights of Hungarian
developed software there. Mainly games such as Caesar the
Cat, Chinese Juggler, Catastrophe and so on, to many
platforms. They purchased cca. 20 000 pieces of Enterprise
128Ks, both German and UK versions. I never saw a single
piece of the 64K version here in Hungary, so it is 99.9%
percent sure that they never ever bought one of them. (I was
a young kid then, but I started my journalist carrier in a
Spectrum / Enterprise related magazine called Spectrum World,
so I may say I knew the scene very well.) Well, I think it is
easy to recognize the 64K version, because the 128Ks have
grey joystick caps while the 64Ks have green. (Correct me if I wrong.)

I am absolutely sure that legal or illegal copies of the
Enterprise never manufactured in the Eastern Block, just like
the Spectrums does.

The machines started to sell in the country in the shops of
Centrum chain countrywide, back in 1987. The price of the
starter kit was about 20 000 Forints, which we may call
affordable but not cheap. Of course you may purchase almost
any Western machine in Hungary - most of them smuggled there
from Germany or Austria and sold in second hand shops - if
you had enough money in your pocket, but the prices were so
high that most of the Computer hungry Hungarians cannot
afford them. So the secret of the success of the EP was the
price. It was also possible to buy peripherals and extensions
such as SpeakEasy speech synthesizer, the Enterprise Mouse,
EXDOS, Hungarian made - actually very good in quality -
joystick adapters, RGB cables. But the German made 3.5" FDD
with built in EXDOS was unavailable, for example.

Well, I don't think that we can call this "procedure" sudden,
because the Centrum chain offered those machines until the
stock has ran out, until cca. 1989. But you're right, the
biggest problem was the lack of software.

There were two cures on that. The hardcore EP scene started
to modify Spectrum games - completely illegal of course - and
the Spectrum Emulator.

The Emulator was developed by the A Studio which was a
relatively small company, developing software, but also
publishing computer books. The manufacturer of the Emulator
and the bus extender to it was a sister company of Videoton,
called Videoton Automatika Leanyvallalat. (If I mirror
translate the name is it Videoton Automatics Daughtercompany.
Brrrr... Sounds terrible...) Videoton was a giant electronics
firm, manufacturing basically everything. Computers, TV sets,
stereos, car stereos, military radios, military radio station
equipments. The retailers were again Centrum and Novotrade.
(Centrum was a big firm with huge department store chains in
every bigger cities in Hungary, while Novotrade had only a
few small shops countrywide, but dealing with computers and
accessories only.) If you check the box of your Emulator, you
can find their logos and names as well. OK, what else? I
don't know the Emulator was legal or illegal, it was licensed
or not by Sinclair Research or more likely by Amstrad, by I
guess it was not. As much I remember there was no manual for
the Emulator at all.

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