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Primo – the forerunner (Primo computer family)

Description (English)

Primo computer family

The first Hungarian commercial (i.e. available to individuals) computer was the Primo, introduced in 1984, which was designed by the colleagues of the Computer Science and Automation Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA SZTAKI). But production took place in a little agricultural organisation, ’New Life‘ Farmers’ Co-operative, near the village of Sárisap. About 9,000 computers were constructed there under crude circumstances. According to contemporary reports, quality control took place ’on kitchen tables‘. In the 1980s, the first seeds of the entrepreneurial sphere sprang up in Hungary. These involved several mutual organisations founded by different representatives of economic and scientific life. The ’auxiliary works‘ of agricultural production comradeships became the active participants. The Primo was built around the microprocessor of the U880, an East-German clone of the American Zilog Z-80. For the first series they had to use Hungarian and Eastern products, from used plastics to electronic building units, for construction. Primo was released with a RAM memory of 16, 32 and 48 kilobytes; its graphics were monochrome with a resolution of 256*192. Its suggested price was 10,000 forint (about twice as much as an average monthly salary at the time), finally though it was released at a slightly higher price. Its first version included a home-designed, flat touch-button keyboard (according to contemporaries, its keys needed not to be pressed but ’massaged‘). There was also a short-lived B-version with push-buttons. In our last picture (bottom, right) the newer version, the Pro-Primo can be seen: it should have had colour display, but this type – made for the secondary school computer teacher – remained only a prototype, because in the second half of the 1980s the Hungarian schools decided to buy Commodore-16, 116, plus/4 computers instead, sold by the Hungarian company Novotrade.

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Object Information


Hungarian Museum for Science, Technology and Transport

Hungarian Museum for Science, Technology and Transport

2002.27.1., 2006.2.1., 2007.28.1.