DAI

Indata DAI

The DAI is a relative unknown computer from the early 80s. Designed for Texas Instruments UK in 1976-1977 because TI US wasn't planning to make a PAL version of the TI 99/4 any time soon. This changed after the DAI prototype was shown at a board meeting as an alternative (more info on this on the mini-interview with David Collier). So Data Application International marketed the machine under their own name in 1977-1980. The microcomputer market of of those days consisted of little more than 'the Early three' (Apple, Tandy and Commodore). Acorn had the Atom, Atari the 800 and Exidy the Sorcerer. So a computer with high resolution color, sound and paddle support surely made an impression. More info on DAI contemporaries.

DAI manual

Before Data Application International produced the DAI, their business were the so called "Real World Cards", computer periperial cards based on the "DCE" bus. More on DCE-bus on a separate page. Some pictures from a DAI Real World Card system.

The presence of the DCE-bus, the concept of the Real World Cards, an optional numeric coprocesor (all supported from Basic) attracted a technically inclined audience. Soon lots of data about the computer became available, like schematics, and a complete disassembly of the ROMs. Other interesting periperials were the Memocom MDCR-D (6000 Bd mini cassette under computer control) and several disk systems (someone even interfaced with the Commodore 1541 disk drive).

The machine was also technically innovative, it used small PROM devices for decoding. Older machines (Apple ][, TRS-80 m1) only used TTL logic.
Also special was the 'indexed' color coding scheme which allowed a lot of colors on the screen, for relatively small memory usage.
And it had a optional coprocessor, the AMD9511 (compatible with the Intel 8231). This also helped the arithmetic performance.

DAI history DAI company logo
Logo of the original DAI company
Indata logo
Logo of Indata
(both are from the back of the manuals)

From the start the company had problems getting the computer on the market. They missed being the preferred computer for the Dutch computer TV-course Teleac in 1980. On May 6th, 1982 the company went bankrupt, but production of all DAI products was continued by a new company : Indata. Indata was a spin-off from Prodata.
So there are two versions of the DAI: The one from the DAI company - green text on the case, keyboard with black and some grey keys, and the one from Indata - colorful logo on case (see background) and keyboard with mostly grey keys, but also green, blue and red. This latter keyboard is also of a lesser quality. The rest of the electronics is the same.

DAI
Memocom
Data recorder
This is the Memocom data recorder, used by the DAI computer. The machine can even boot from this device (loading and running the first program found on tape). The cassette and drive were made by Philips. Indata marketed this later as a part of the DAI system
Description of extra functions (LOAD and SAVE work on both cassette and MDCR):
REW/REWIND X
rewind X files
REW/REWIND
rewind to start of tape
SKIP X
skip X files on tape
SKIP
skip until empty tape
CAS/CASSETTE X
select cassette X as I/O device (0=none, 1=1, 2=2, 3=both)
CAS/CASSETTE
select cassette 1 as I/O device
DCR X
select DCR X as I/O device
DCR
select DCR 1 as I/O device
DEL/DELETE
erase to end of tape
LAST
mark previos file as last (=erase +/- 1 sec.)
VER/VERIFY
check previous file
[TAB] key
clear screen
LOOK
print name of next file

The Memocom uses Philips type microcassettes. Look here for a comparison with the Japanese type of microcassettes.

More info on the hardware. Diagrams are in the Virtual library.

Most historical information is from David Collier and Claude Simpson, both involved in the development of the DAI in the late 70's. Thanks for that. But all errors are mine :-).

Instead of listing all boring specifications myself I leave that to Sue Eisenbach's Bench Test (1980-81) of Personal Computer World.

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Other links


Updated: 2012-05-05

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