$12 Indian 'TV computer' a knockoff of '80s Nintendo system, not Apple II
The Famicom rides again
Computerworld - Can a 20-year-old gaming console be the way to offer truly low-cost computing to Third World students?
An international group of designers and graduate students believe it is, saying that they believe they can modernize a "TV computer," available for $12 on the street in India, by adding Internet access and other features while keeping the price affordable.
The Herald and other reports interpreted Lomas' comments as meaning that the TV Computer, apparently made by a company called Victor, was an unbranded knockoff of some member of the Apple II family.
But according to pictures and a wiki partly maintained by Lomas, the Victor-70 is an 8-bit machine that so closely resembles the original Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the Famicom, that it accepts its cartridges.
Better known in the U.S. as the NES or simply the Nintendo, the Famicom trailed popular gaming consoles such as the Atari 2600 and the Mattel Intellivision.
Technically advanced for the time, the Famicom came with a 1.78-MHz 8-bit processor, 2k of video memory and the ability to display 256-by-240 pixels in 25 colors.
Released in the U.S. and elsewhere in 1985, more than 62 million Famicoms were sold worldwide, a record at that time. They remained popular until the early 1990s in the U.S. and even longer elsewhere.
"A lot of the Srishti Design students who saw me playing with this used to have one themselves, several years ago. Back then, this cost nearly 3,000 rupees [$75 U.S.]," Lomas wrote on his blog.
Coincidentally, MIT is where the One Laptop Per Child effort, a separate endeavor to bring low-cost computers to Third World students, was also started.
Unlike the Famicom, which came in a gray plastic console, the Victor-70's processor, memory and other internal hardware are all contained in its keyboard, which connects to a television instead of a dedicated monitor. It comes with game controllers and a mouse.
The Victor-70 and other models are available from online retailers in India, though starting at the slightly higher price of $23.99 each.
Though the Victor appears to be an unlicensed clone of the Famicom, Lomas notes that that may not matter, given the 20-year duration of U.S. patents.
The Victor would also come with wide software ecosystem courtesy of the Famicom, including a version of the Basic programming language, wrote Lomas. Moreover, the fact that a Victor plugs into a TV makes computing both more social and more affordable, since half of Indian households own televisions.
Lomas also has a picture of a $15 laptop sold in India that appears to use a primitive black-and-white LCD screen and also purports to be an educational computer.
Read more about Hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 4 Customers who never have to refresh their PCs again This paper illustrates a common theme: the combination of desktop virtualization and thin client computing helps organizations deliver an up-to-date user experience more...
- Mobile Devices: The New Thin Clients Get essential guidance for understanding the role thin clients plus virtual desktops play in the enterprise today.
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
- PaaS - Powering a New Era of Business IT Why PaaS has suddenly become relevant and irresistible to many organizations. Dive into the opportunities and considerations associated with using PaaS from an...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have. All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts