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An Overview of the MZ-80A 
written by Maurice Hawes / SUC/UK 
Source: SUC-magazine July 1994, Volume 14 Number 2, p. 20 - 21  

An Overview of the MZ-80A ( Software / Hardware )

In some ways the MZ-80A is close to the MZ-80K - the Monitor ROMs and tape drives are near-identical. But the Basics and the screens are different, and the disk systems are very different. Furthermore, the MZ-80A was not as popular on the Continent as it was here, and it was soon superceded by the MZ-700. As a result, few MZ-80K programs were commercially developed for the MZ-80A, and most of the work was done by the SUC. To keep this review within bounds, I have omitted compilers ( see Vol.12 No. 1 ).


Sharp‘s MZ-80A Basics were better than those for the MZ-80K, but still lacked something. For SA-5510, the first toolkits were ‘TAPE COMMANDER‘ and ‘BAS MOD‘, but neither was the complete answer. For SA-6510 there was only ‘Disk Commander‘, and that was reported as ‘bugged‘ ( arising, we think, from the surreptitious publication, by Sharp, of 3 versions of SA-6510, dated Mar / Aug / Nov ‘82 ).

The situation was partly remedied by Chris Hearn; he produced useful patches for SA-5510 ( see Vol. 7 No. 2 ), and then went on to write ‘X-PATCH 5510‘. This is a brilliant toolkit, but it does occupy a lot of memory. For this reason, I recently combined the ideas in ‘Tape Commander‘ with bits of Chris‘s code and some other SUC upgrades, to create MZ-80A SUPERBASICS SA-5575 and SA-6575. Both these new Basics were fully explained in Vol. 14 No. 1.

For 16 s.f. arithmetic via tape, you can use MZ-80A Hu-BASIC. Sharp did not transfer their 16 s.f. MZ-80K / B disk Basic onto the MZ-80A; so for 16 s.f. via disk you must use CP/M.


MZ-80A tape utilities include the ZEN Assembler, B880 MASTER Disassembler, Z80 MACHINE, PROBE, CLUB COPY, and SUPERTAPE 2; most of these are SUC versions of MZ-80K programs. They will ‘RUN‘ from disk Basic for convenience ( but cannot handle disk files ).

MZ-80A disk utilities for Sharp format disks are few and far between. Sharp‘s UTILITY program for formatting / copying disks has been upgraded by the SUC to V2.0 so that it will copy a master, and we have Sharp‘s FILING<CMT, and our own DISKEDIT.A4B ( which was developed from the MZ-80K version by John Edwards ). We are currently working on an MZ-80A version of MZ-80K ‘DISKUTIL‘.

For an 80-column MZ-80A, there are many more utilities available under CP/M ( see ‘CP/M and other.....' ).


On tape, we have several W.P‘s; best are WDPRO2.37AT, and the SUC‘s MZ-80A versions of SHARP PENCIL. For spreadsheets, we have HUCALC 80A+ from the SUC, and SHARPLAN. And we also have the Sharp / Microease suite of business programs ( see Vol. 13 No. 3 ).

On disk, the most useful applications run under CP/M; the best are listed in the ‘CP/M and other...‘ section.


The ‘A‘ Library contains educational programs at various levels. Most are from MZ-80K originals, and many are games in themselves. There are also many adventure and ‘zapping‘ games, but most are boring compared with those on a modern IBM PC or a ‘Nintendo‘. But there are some good chess programs ( esp. SARGON 2.71 ) and you can play Bridge, Golf, Mah Jong, Draughts, Poker, etc......


MZ-80A CP/M can be used in 40 columns ( FORMAT, BACKUP, PIP and WDPRO 2.37AD all work in this mode ). But most prograrns need 80 columns e.g. our own DISX, ZENASM, DISCMOD3 and SIRS, and standard software such as WORDSTAR 3, PEACHTEXT, SUPERCALC 2, MBASIC 5.1, and most if not all CP/M shareware. Unfortunately, DBASE will not run under the 48K MZ-80A CP/M - it finds the TPA too small (???).

Sharp‘s MZ-80A FDOS has some useful ( if obscure ) features, but a lot of time and patience is needed to learn how to use them.


We have all ‘A‘ Manuals, including the MZ-80A CP/M supplement; they can be photocopied at cost. Alternatively, we have our own MZ-80A ‘Owner‘s Manual‘ at £10, or ‘SOFTWARE MANUAL III ‘ at £2. In addition, virtually all the SUC software listed above has been described in recent, still-available back issues, and an ‘Index‘ to these articles appeared on pages 6 - 11 of Vol. 13 No. 3.


Expansion boxes and disk drives originally cost a bomb, but we are now offering them at knock-down prices ( see page 4 ). At these prices, anyone still using a tape-based MZ-80A should think big ! ( But do be quick - MZ-80A disk cards are in VERY short supply. )

Sharp P4 / 5 / 6 printers, fitted with an ‘A‘ character eprom, have only one mode of operation. They expect an end-of-line ‘CR‘ ( $0D ), upon which they print the line and then do AUTO LF. This precludes any operation requiring two passes e.g. underlining.

Standard printers may be used; for years, we were told that a special printer I/F was needed, but we now know that a standard Sharp printer card rnay be used. The ‘Sharp ASCII‘ character set, and Sharp‘s odd printer control codes, remain inherent problems; if your software does not contain built-in cover on these two points, it must be modified. In most cases we can provide software which is already modified ( suffix /M, /LF, or /C ), or patches such as the ‘SOFCENCOPY‘ programs for Basics, or SOFTCENA.COM for CP/M.

A standard printer with AUTO LF ON works like the Sharp printers described above. lt is better to set AUTO LF OFF and send $0A ( or $0D + $0A ) to print a line and do a line feed; $0D alone may then be used to print a line but allow another pass. Most of our modified software ( /LF, /C, SOFCENCOPY, SOFTCENA.COM ) is for AUTO LF OFF.

P5 / 6 leads are ‘straight through 1 - 25‘ ( 25 D-plug / 25 D-plug ). Standard and P4 printers need special leads, see Vol. 10 No. 3 pp. 10 - 11.

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last updated September 6, 2002
SUC / UK: Maurice Hawes