NorthStar Horizon
Announced:November 1977
Price:US $1899 assembled
US $1599 as a kit
CPU:Z-80 @ 4MHz
RAM:16K or more
Interface:video terminal
Expansion:S-100 bus card-cage
Storage:5-1/4 inch floppy drive(s)
holds 90 KB each
Ports:2 serial, 1 parallel
OS:CP/M, NorthStar DOS

Starting out in 1976 as a computer stored called "Kentucky Fried Computers", they had to change their name due to impending litigation from Kentucky Fried Chicken! Their first product was a Floating Point Math Board for S-100 computers.

The board allowed for super fast math operations, up to 50 times faster than without, but only when utilized with the custom version of NorthStar BASIC.

After this, they developed an inexpensive floppy disk system for existing computers, which quickly led to possibly the first computer with built-in floppy drives - the NorthStar Horizon.

The Horizon is one of just a few computers ever sold with a wooden cabinet!

It is probably a serious fire hazard, and certainly would not pass today's UL equipment safety laws.

Later versions came with an all-metal case.

With 1 floppy drive, the kit cost $1599, while an assembled system cost $1899.
With 2 floppy drives, the kit cost $1999, while an assembled system cost $2349.

With the top removed as seen above, you can see the heavy-duty linear power supply on the right side, as well as the two floppy drives.

On the left is space for 12 S-100 cards to be installed. This particular system is packed with memory - seven 64K RAM cards for a total of 448K RAM!

Unlike most other S-100 based computers, the Horizon is more than just a passive motherboard - it has actual circuitry, eliminating the need for the addition of S-100 cards which would have performed the same functions.

On the back you can see the four connectors on the bottom for the video terminal, the parallel and 2 serial ports.

Above them are 8 other connectors - these are not stock, this systems is configured with eight additional serial ports.

Related Links

  • NorthStar manuals from Harte Technologies
  • Alan Bowker's North Star Computers
  • documentation from Rich's classic computing lab

  • Return to the Obsolete Technology Homepage