Revenge of the Panasonic JR-200U Personal Computer (JR200, JR 200 U) (1983)) - PART 1

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Bill Loguidice's picture

As luck would have it, I came across an amazing stash of Panasonic JR-200U (aka, Panasonic Personal Computer or PPC) stuff for about $40 shipped that puts my previous collection for this system to shame. In fact, the only major item not present in this new haul was Wordwatch. There will be no need for me to re-hash what was in the prior "A Long Visual Look at..." as you can just read it for yourself if you haven't already. Since all of the setup stuff is already taken care of, I can get right into this haul and PART 1, which will briefly lead into coverage of one of the interesting games now in my possession (subsequent parts will naturally follow suit in various degrees of detail).

First, here's a photo of the new stash, followed by a few cursory findings, then a preliminary look at the first game:

PPC2

As you can see, this JR-200U is in similarly great condition as the first one, and came with pretty much the same connections, save for the addition of a Panasonic TV switch box, which is a nice touch for the collection. Anyway, obviously the real treasure here is in the software. As I stated in the previous entry on this system, developer (since Panasonic appears to always be the publisher for their system) Instant Software sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite place them, and developer Datamost was definitely familiar, being heavily involved in other 8-bit computers, particularly the Apple II, and particularly for games that included Swashbuckler and Aztec. Interestingly, I have a good amount of Datamost software for the Apple II, software that came in the early Zip Loc style bags before boxes became all but competitively mandatory. What we'll see as we go along here throughout this series is that I have some of the same Datamost games for the Apple II, which will make comparisons quite easy and interesting (not to mention the fact that we can all play along at Virtual Apple 2 in our browsers). Finally, while my previous exposure to this system made me think there were only the two developers, it turns out that a third has now been introduced, tmq (TMQ) SOFTWARE, INC., or "Trademark of Quality", a developer I definitely never heard of. I'll be covering their games in future entries, but I can tell you right now that their game cover art is downright hideous.

Here's a run-down of the software titles, not counting the ones I already had and covered in some detail in the previous entry (Solitaire (x3 now), Ramrom Patrol (x2), and Business Analysis and Forecasting (x2)):

From developer Datamost:
- Swashbuckler (1983) - This will be the first game covered in PART 2
- Vortex (1983)
- Mars Cars (1983)
- Crazy Mazey (1982)

From developer Instant Software:
- Santa Paravia and Fiumaccio (1983)
- Medieval Quest (1983)
- Phaser Command (1983)
- Mathmaster (1983)
- Science Skills (1983)
- Personal Bill Paying (1983)

From developer TMQ Software, Inc.:
- Joe Junk Man (1983)
- Galactic Chase (1983)
- Rat Patrol (1983)
- Pig Pen (1983)

My next entry will begin with Swashbuckler, shown here on the Apple II (where even today it remains a fairly valuable title at around $40 or so market value) via the online emulator referenced above:
Swashbuckler_A2

In theory, the PPC should be able to blow the doors off the Apple II version, but as we've seen in the previous entry, so far the only nice things we've seen on the computer were the machine language loading routines before getting into very simplistic program implementations. Will this be our first glimpse at the true abilities of this computer? We'll have to wait and see...

See you next time and be sure to help spread the word!

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Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
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Peter Filiberti wrote:
Bill,
Email me, I'm going to dig, but I think I have the original documents from Japan with all the Panasonic JR-200
internals if my memory serves me correctly. May even have the source code to some of these games. We used
the S-C Macro Cross Assembler on the Apple II to do Crazy Mazy. I wrote a code downloader that ran on the apple
and a small piece of code ran on the Panasonic and we could hit a control key on the apple and it would send the
program to the Panasonic via the joystick port. This was a long time ago, nice find.
Hey do you have TYPE ATTACK??!! I think we did that for the panasonic as well.
Peter

Thanks for checking in Peter. It's always great to hear from those who made the history. It's my understanding that scenario of coding on the Apple II and cross assembling for other platforms was relatively common (I know some Atari 2600 and C-64 games were coded like that as well). The JR-200U does have more than its fair share of Apple II ports. I have a good portion of the JR-200U software line-up in my collection, but definitely not everything. It's among the most obscure classic computer platforms to be sure, particularly considering the company behind it.

I have "Typing Teacher" from Instant Software for the JR-200U, but not Type Attack. The version of Type Attack I have from Sirius is for the IBM PC.

I don't see your email address, but you can shoot me a message either via the contact form on this site or by clicking my username and clicking on my email.

n/a
Marq (not verified)
Service Manual

Hi,
Still trying to find the precious service manual, but it seems hard to find. I did decipher most of the important programming stuff without it already, but for example the expansion bus pinout would be crucial when making own roms or a transfer cable. Did a couple of little demos and experiments for the Machine already.

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