Pied Piper Communicator 1
Model:PPC 001
Introduced:Fall 1982
Available:March 1983
Weight:12.5 lbs
Price: US $1,299
CPU:Zilog Z80A @ 4MHz
Display:80 x 24 text
Ports:parallel, TV RF, composite
Storage:internal floppy drive
OS:CP/M 2.2

Pied Piper - 1983
By Semi-Tech Micro (STM) Electronics

From The Authorized Dealer Manual:
The Pied Piper (the disillusioned German rat catcher who stole the town's children) was introduced at the COMDEX computer-expo in the fall of 1982, as well as the January 1983 winter CES show in Las Vegas. Actual shipments began in mid-1983.

The Pied Piper is a portable computer system runnng the CP/M Operating System, with a built-in floppy drive. Portable in this case really just means it has a handle to carry it around. There is no built-in monitor - you are expected to have your own, or use a consumer TV for the display. There is also no place on the system to store the required cables to plug the system in - it does not run on batteries either.

The single internal floppy drive stores 784K of data - an huge amount in comparison to other systems. But due to this large amount of data, and the small data buffer (30K) used to copy data from one floppy disk to another, you would have to go through up to 20 disk exchanges to copy a single floppy disk. Thankfully, an additional floppy drive ($550) can by plugged to the connector on the back of the Piper, eliminating the slow and tedious floppy disks swapping.

Although not untypical, the Piper floppy disk data format is non-standard - no other manufacturer supports it. But using the included software, the Pied Piper can read floppy disks from certain other computer systems.

Included with every Pied Piper was a full suite of professional software from "Perfect Software", valued at $1,700 if purchased separately. This includes:
  • Perfect Speller
  • Perfect Writer
  • Perfect Filer
  • Perfect Calc
  • This same (or similar) "Perfect Software" suite was also included for free with the Kaypro line of computers.

    The Pied Piper never really found it's niche market - there was little to distinguish it from competing systems, and the CP/M operating system was going out of style, being replaced by MS-DOS, which the Piper could not run.

    Related Links

  • STM company profile from Classic Tech
  • Uncle Roger's Classic Computers
  • Binary Dinosaurs
  • STM manuals from Chicago Classic Computing!
  • Pied Piper review from New York Times - August 30, 1983.
  • 1983 Creative Computing Pied Piper evaluation from Classic Computer Magazine Archive
  • 1983 InfoWorld Pied Piper review.

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