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PCjr Pictures, Set 3: Advertising

Here are some pictures from older magazines (mid 1984 - 1986) that I thought were interesting.

This is the first page of a twelve page advertising booklet from IBM. It is a classic IBM personal computer advertisement, right down to the Charlie Chaplin "Little Tramp" character that they always used.

This advertising appeared later in the PCjr's product life - it features the improved keyboard, the PCjr Color Monitor and mentions memory expansion up to 512KB. By this point the base model with no diskette drive, 64KB and no monitor was $599. The enhanced model with 128KB and a diskette drive (but still no monitor) was $999.

Looking back, if IBM had come out of the gate with this pricing and this feature set the PCjr would have done a lot better than it did.

(Click on the image to download a PDF of the entire booklet.)
IBM advertising booklet

This is a Microsoft Booster ad from PCjr Magazine, probably sometime in 1985. The MS Booster added a bus mouse, a clock/calendar chip, and in most configurations an additional 128KB of RAM. When introduced, it was priced at $295 for the basic version and $495 for the version with the memory.

My PCjr had one of these and it was well worth the money. Some of them came with a copy of the Microsoft Flight Simulator which worked well on a 128KB machine but was exceptional on a 256KB machine. (And the mouse control was handy too.) The mouse connected using a DB9 connector, but it certainly wasn't a serial mouse.

Microsoft included a "menu maker" type program that let you define actions to be taken when you used the mouse, letting you add mouse support for applications that did not have it. The support was crude though - I think the terminate and stay resident utility was simulating real mouse support by "stuffing" keystrokes into the keyboard buffer for the application program to read.

The original keyboard is shown in this picture.

Magazine ad for Microsoft Booster

Magazine ad for Legacy PCjr products Check out the toys in this picture!

Second diskette drives were a common upgrade, but Legacy made some of the nicest ones. You could get the expansion unit with either no diskette drive, a second diskette drive, or even a hard drive. (I'm not sure if you could do two diskette drives and a hard drive.) These units had some neat panels that could show you memory accesses and you could also use them to add memory and a clock/calendar.

A more detailed description of one of the Legacy Technologies expansion chassis can be seen here (Legacy Technologies PCjr Expansion). (There is a video showing the "blinkenlights" in action.)

A quick review of the Rapport Drive Two, from PCjr Magazine in 1984 or 1985. This expansion chassis isn't as flashy as the Legacy models and doesn't have as many configuration options. It does provide the needed second diskette drive, memory expansion, printer port, and clock/calendar that a stock PCjr doesn't have.

The "exploded" view gives you an idea of how these expansion chassis were added to the PCjr. Typically a tall sidecar is used to bring the expansion bus up to the expansion chassis. Sometimes the internal modem slot was used for a SCSI card (to support a hard drive). It is more than likely that the diskette controller was replaced because the standard one did not support two diskette drives.

On this particular expansion chassis the large sidecar is used to add a parallel port, a clock & calendar, and to bring the I/O bus up to the additional memory in the expansion unit. The original PCjr diskette drive controller is used, but with a special cable that diverts some of the signal lines to some more logic circuitry in the expansion chassis. That additional logic circuitry fakes the controller into supporting two diskette drives. The expansion chassis has its own power supply and its own external transformer - it is switched on and off by circuitry that senses when the PCjr main power supply is switched on and off.

Early models were sold by Rapport. Later on the company name changed to Racore. The same hardware was also sold by Quadram, but with different driver software. DMA and non-DMA units were available.

It is hilarious to think of using a 512KB machine with two floppy drives today. In the mid 1980's it was a perfectly reasonable machine and I used less of a machine into my 2nd semester of college for word processing, presentation graphics, and email!

Rapport Drive Two magazine ad

PCjr running ColorPaint

When I first saw ColorPaint on a cartridge running on the PCjr in 1984, my jaw just about dropped. This was an incredible piece of software, and it showed the advanced features of the PCjr. According to the author, ColorPaint was written entire in assembler which gave it the speed and control of the hardware that was needed.

In 1984, a mouse would have been a rare option. (The Mac had been introduced that year, and it was the first machine to feature a mouse as standard equipment.) In 1984, the only other machine to have 16 colors on the display at the same time would have been a PC AT with an EGA card or a specialized machine such as the MindSet. (EGA not only did 16 colors, but it had better screen resolution as well.) For the home market this was as good as graphics got. And it ran 1-2-3, Wordstar, and other real applications.

This machine is a 128KB model ... there are no sidecars on it to boost the memory or provide other options. The mouse is probably a serial mouse, plugged into the serial connector available on the back of the machine. The keyboard is the second model (the one that replaced the chiclet keyboard) and it still is wireless.

Created March 1st, 2001, Last updated March 7th, 2010
(C)opyright Michael B. Brutman, mbbrutman at gmail.com

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