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Aster CT-80

The Aster CT-80, developed by the small Dutch company MCP, was sold in its first incarnation as a kit for hobbyists. Later it was sold ready to use. It consisted of several Eurocard PCB's and a backplane.

Three models were sold. The first model looked like the later IBM PC, a rectangular base unit with two floppy drives on the front, and a monitor on top with a separate keyboard. The second incarnation was a much smaller unit the width of two 5 1/4" floppy drives stacked on top of each other, and the third incarnation looked like a flattened Apple ][ with a built-in keyboard.

All units ran much faster than the original TRS-80, at 4MHz, and the display supported upper and lower case, and hardware snow suppression (video ram bus arbitration logic). The floppy disk interface supported dual density, and disk capacities up to 800K.

The Aster also had the unique feature of supporting two fundamentally different internal architectures: when turned on without a boot floppy, or with a TRS-DOS floppy the Aster would be fully TRS-80 compatible. But when the boot loader detected a CP/M floppy the Aster would reconfigure its internal architecture on the fly to optimally support CP/M with 60K free RAM, and a 80 x 25 display.

With a special configuration tool it could reconfigure its floppy drivers to read and write the floppy's of about 80 other CP/M systems.

Most Aster CT-80's (about 10 thousand) were sold to schools for computer education.