Z80 Computer by Nuova Elettronica

Welcome to ValorosoIT, your portal dedicated to vintage electronics and retro computers! In this video interview, we will dive into the fascinating universe of Nuova Elettronica, a magazine well known among electronics enthusiasts of the past.

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Today the NE magazine is unfortunately closed for good: the last issue published was no. 250 of September-October 2012.

During the Varese Retrocomputing 2023 event in Tradate, I had the privilege of exploring Nuova Elettronica's Z80 computer up close, together with Giuliano Mingarelli. Let's find out the history, technical characteristics, expansions and much more of this fascinating computer by Nuova Elettronica that was offered in assembly kits.

Nuova Elettronica, ValorosoIT and Giuliano Mingarelli at Varese Retrocomputing 2023, Villa Truffini, Tradate (VA), Italy

History and Technical Characteristics of Nuova Elettronica's computer

NE's computer is a legend of vintage electronics. The designs date back to the years between 1979 and 1985: these computers were released as assembly kits, a very different experience from today's. The user didn't just have to assemble the boards on the mainboard, they had to actually build them, soldering every single component.

One of the most distinguishing features of Nuova Elettronica's Z80 computer was its modularity. It started with a basic kit including the power supply (LX 380), the BUS (LX 381), the CPU board (LX 382), the hexadecimal keyboard interface (LX 383) and the hexadecimal keyboard with 7-segment display (LX 384). This modularity allowed users to customize their project, progressively adding additional boards on a dedicated BUS. Video interfaces, cassette players, floppy disk drives, memory expansions, an alphanumeric keyboard, and much more could be added.

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Hexadecimal Keyboard and Assembler

Nuova Elettronica's basic version of the computer included a hexadecimal keyboard with a 7-segment display, designed to facilitate learning the basics of programming in hexadecimal machine language of the Z80 microprocessor. Through NE magazine, users could access clear and simple examples, making learning electronics and programming accessible to everyone.

One aspect to take into account, however, was the cost of the computer: it was quite high and certainly not affordable for everyone.

New Electronics, Z80 Computer, Magazines, CPU, Hex Keyboard, Rack

Guarantee of operation of Nuova Elettronica's computer

An interesting possibility, which was offered by the magazine NE and its readers, was the guarantee of computer operation. Anyone could buy Nuova Elettronica's computer mounting kit and try their hand at assembly. If it was not possible to assemble the computer, Nuova Elettronica provided a free repair service for the computer.

The most common mistakes made by users when building the computer were: cold soldering (bad tin solder), backwards mounted ICs, and incorrectly valued components.

The guarantee of free service and repairs in the event of malfunctions demonstrated NE's enduring commitment to its readers.

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Operating systems

Speaking of operating systems, NE's computer supports DOS, a proprietary operating system, and CP/M. The CPU board is equipped with a Z80 microprocessor, manufactured by both Zilog and SGS. It was a popular processor at the time and offered flexibility and versatility.

New Electronics, Z80 Computer, Monitor, Floppy Disk Drive, Keyboard, Magazines, Mounting Kit

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