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Primary Name
Exidy Sorcerer
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Description Edit | History

The Sorcerer was one of the early home computer systems, released in 1978 by arcade game manufacturer Exidy. It was comparatively advanced when released, especially compared to contemporary computers like the Commodore PET and TRS-80. However, due to a number of problems including a lack of marketing, the machine remained relatively unknown. Exidy eventually pulled it from the US market in 1979, although a licensed version continued to be built in the Netherlands through 1983. Today the Exidy Sorcerer is a coveted collector's item.

The Sorcerer was designed to fill a perceived marketplace void for a home computer that was simple to set up and use yet offered reasonable performance. It was powered by a Zilog Z80 running at 2.106 MHz with 4 to 48 kilobytes of RAM, giving it performance parity with the TRS-80. In its basic form it consisted of a single chassis containing the computing hardware with the keyboard on top, a layout that became common with machines like the Atari 800 and Commodore VIC-20. In this form it could be attached to a third party computer monitor and used with software loaded from "ROM-PAC" cartridges or a cassette tape drive.

The Sorcerer was first launched in April 1978 at the PERCOMP convention in Long Beach, California at a price of US$895. The expansion systems and drives were released at the same time. Shipments did not start until later that summer. The machine never sold well in the US, likely due to the introduction of newer machines like the Atari 800 that offered many more features (including color graphics and sound) and directly supported television sets for output, reducing overall system costs.

Exidy quickly tired of the Sorcerer. In 1979 the company sold the rights to the design to Dynasty Computer Corp. of Dallas, Texas. They made minor updates and re-released it as the "Dynasty smart-ALEC".

The first Sorcerers sold in the UK were imported direct from the US by a small company based in Cornwall called Liveport Ltd. Sorcerer Sales in Europe were fairly strong, via their distributor, CompuData Systems. The machine had its biggest brush with success in 1979 when the Dutch broadcasting company TELEAC decided to introduce their own home computer. The Belgian company DAI was originally contracted to design their machines, but when they couldn't deliver, CompuData delivered several thousand Sorcerers instead.

By 1979 Exidy had already decided to give up on the machine, but sales in Europe were strong enough that CompuData decided to license the design for local construction in the Netherlands. They built the machine for several years before developing their own 16-bit Intel 8088–based machine which replaced the Sorcerer in 1983.

The Sorcerer also had a strong following in Australia. This is most likely due to Dick Smith Electronics, being a leading electronics and hobbyist retailer at the time, pushing the Sorcerer quite heavily. The Sorcerer Computer Users group of Australia (or SCUA) actively supported the Sorcerer long after Exidy discontinued it.

Source: Wikipedia, "Exidy Sorcerer", available under the CC-BY-SA License.

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