Intertec SuperBrain
Announced:July 1979
Available:September 1979
Price:$2,995 (32K RAM)
CPU:Zilog Z80A @ 4MHz
RAM:64K maximum ($350 extra)
Display:12-inch CRT, 80 x 24 text
Storage:dual 170K 5-1/4 inch floppy drives
Expansionoptional S-100 bus adapter
Ports:two RS232 serial
OS:CP/M 2.2 on diskette

William M. Wells III (and brother Ron) started Intertec Data Systems as a one-man operation in 1973. He primarily made low-cost video teminals up until 1979, when the SuperBrain computer was released. Wells previously work at IBM for four years, but quit after they rejected his ideas for a microcomputer-based printer.

Announced in mid-1979, the SuperBrain Video Computer System, by Intertec Data Systems of Columbia South Carolina, was a low-cost, high-quality, all-in-one machine, running the industry-standard CP/M operating system. It had the highest PPR (Price/Performance Ratio) in the history of the industry, according to Intertec.

The SuperBrain has that classic, sweeping, futuristic computer look, what one might imagine the first computer looked like, and the name evokes images of technological superiority. It's not the first computer, of course, by this time many others have existed for over half a decade.

The light-weight custom-made high-impact injection-molded structural-foam system cover is coated with a special "felt-like" paint to enhance the overall look and feel.

The Intertec SuperBrain actually has two Zilog Z-80 CPUs, but the second is to improve disk drive access only.

They quickly released the SuperBrain QD - Quad-Density - with higher density floppy drives - holding twice as much data as the normal drives - 340K vs. 170K per drives.
Then the SuperBrain SD Super-Density version - with even more storage capacity - 780K per floppy drive.

There are no expansion capabilities, except for an optional internal S-100 bus adaptor to convert the SuperBrain Z80A data bus into an S-100 data and address compatible protocol. The S-100 adaptor accommodates just one S-100 circuit board. The two ports on the back are RS-232 serial ports for connecting with printers and other computer systems.

Business was good - sales in 1981 were $17 million, and they raised another $17 million with their stock IPO - they had a huge booth at the 1981 NCC National Computer Conference.

Sales peaked in 1982, but declines afterwards, largely due to the availability of the new IBM PC and the industry which grew around it.

In 1986, financially-strapped Intertec Data Systems changed their name to Wells American Corp. - they mostly made IBM PC-compatible systems like their A-Star (1987), and their deluxe CompuStar (1988). Sales in 1989 were $2.5 million; sales in 1990 $64,000 - one year later they declared chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Related Links

  • WikiPedia
  • Starring the Computer
  • Daves Old Computers
  • YouTube video
  • Computerworld, September 1979
  • Columbia University Computing History
  • "Superletter" Newsletters from
  • "Superletter" Newsletters from bitsavers

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