History of the MZ-700
written by Maurice Hawes / SUC/UK
Source: SUC-magazine November 1999, Volume 19 Number 3, p. 13
|A Brief History of the MZ-700|
Thus, with its clock speed of 3.5MHz, the MZ-700 seemed to meet many of the criticisms levelled at the MZ-80A when it was launched in June 1982. But it was still only a halfway-house - the printer I/F only suited Sharp printers, the screen was only 40 columns, and to run disk drives you needed an extra interface of some kind.
The MZ-700 was reviewed in the PCW Magazine in February 1984. By then most of the competing machines had high-res graphics, and the reviewer was hard on the MZ-700 over that. But he was impressed by the alternative languages available, and concluded that the MZ-700 was worthy of serious consideration. The prices below come from this review; significantly, there is no mention of disk drives:
All these are INC VAT; in the same Magazine: BBC Model B £350, Commodore 64 £240
I bought my first MZ-700 from Sharpsoft, new, with tape recorder and plotter / printer, in June 1986, for £99.95; this appeared to be an amazing offer, but actually Sharp were selling off 4-year-old stock before it was too Iate ! As a result thousands of MZ-700s were sold in the U.K., in spite of the fact that Sharp did not offer any useful upgrades. lndeed, few people in the U.K. then knew that the MZ-700 Expansion Box existed, and many of us fitted 5.25" drives by cannibalising the Expansion Box from the MZ-80A.
Later, the S.U.C. did its best to rectify this situation. We found a U.K. source of MZ-700 Expansion Boxes; designed a 3-way Monitor Eprom to allow the use of Sharps Quickdisk system and a kit to give a 40 / 80-column screen; and reverse-engineered the MZ-800 PCP/M System to run on the MZ-700. Thus, members of the S.U.C. can run an MZ-700 with Quickdisks; or with an 80-column screen, normal disks, and CP/M or PCP/M - but it is a difficult way of achieving what should have been easy in the first place.
Some commercial organisations took a different approach. They modified the MZ-700 by adding a memory board which fires up at switch-on and is programmed for a specific application such as printing pharmaceutical labels or insurance quotations. Many such MZ-700s have appeared on the second-user market, and we have learned how to re-program the board to make it generally useful; but this is no help if you want to run disk drives or CP/M.
As a collectors item, the MZ-700 is a doubtful proposition,
because its successor, the MZ-800, is a very similar machine but comes
with many better features. However, an ORIGINAL MZ-700 with a Plotter
/ Printer and a QD drive built-in might deserve a place in any collection
that aimed to be comprehensive, if only as an exarnple of how ingenuity
can get a quart into a pint pot.