SORD M5 Computer

SORD M5

The little known SORD M5 was a computer launched way back in 1982 by the Japanese company, SORD.

The Sord Computer Corporation was founded in 1970 and began to work with Toshiba in 1985.

By 1999 they had became known as Toshiba Personal Computer System Corporation, or if you have heard of TOPS then you know where it all started.

The SORD M5 had little success outside of Japan and was lost amid the huge glut of 8-bit machines that were swamping the market at that time.

Let's take a look at a little known and extremely rare machine that is thirty years old at the time of writing...

What does a SORD M5 look like?

Not a bad looking piece of kit - The SORD M5
Not a bad looking piece of kit - The SORD M5

The SORD M5 Machine

This is a computer that had very little success outside of Japan.

The machine itself was quite small and was of quite an original design when compared to pretty much every other 8-bit machine of the era.

One thing it did have that was similar to the good old ZX Spectrum was a rubber keyboard.

To be fair though the M5 keyboard was better than Sinclair's effort, but by1982 what else wasn't?

It also had built in BASIC keywords which were accessed by using the shift button with certain keys - again similar to the original ZX Spectrum in terms of keyboard input.

This way of typing your BASIC programs could be annoying to the uninitiated but once you got the hang of it you could churn out your world class code pretty quickly!

Another interesting thing to note is the lack of a full size space-bar; the similarities with the good old Speccy are becoming more apparent!

Some SORD M5 Technical Info

The machine came installed with a pretty paltry (even for the time) 4KB of RAM. It was possible to expand the memory though if you had some spare cash to splash.

There were also a couple of DIN joystick ports, and a port to connect a printer meaning you could have a pretty decent setup if you had extra cash to burn.

Do display to the screen it used a Texas Instruments video chip which provided capability of up to thirty two sprites. Not bad.

Texas Instruments also provided the sound hardware which was capable of three channel sound; for 1982 this was very impressive indeed. As usual for the time, the sound was 'channelled' through the TV speaker, so the better television you used for your computer then the better the sound you would hear.

It should also be noted that there were versions of the machine that incorporated a cartridge slot meaning you could load games, applications and programming languages directly from compatible carts.

This would be similar to the almost instant load up of ROM carts that were available for the ZX Spectrum via the Sinclair Interface 2.

The SORD M5 In Action

UK Release of the SORD M5

This machine was released in the UK at a price of £195.00

This price was a little too steep when you considered the price of a ZX Spectrum, Acorn Atom, C64 or even the 'friendly' VIC 20.

It did have a cartridge slot (which could load games, applications or programming languages in an instant) which set it apart from the 1982 crowd, but the lack of built-in RAM led to poorer software support.

The lack of built-in RAM also meant fewer games being developed for it back in the day, and games by around 1983 was a big helper when selling a particular machine.

When you look at the amount of ZX Spectrum Games that were available you just know that this machine was never going to compete on that front.

If it had been released at a more competitive price then the machine may well have carved out a niche for itself.

As it stands it remained popular in the Japan and became popular in Czechoslovakia as it was one of the first machines available there to the everyday buyer.

SORD had a small 'business' presence in the UK so the few that were purchased were mainly put to business use - an area that the machine was competent in.

Tank Battalion on the SORD M5

Super Cobra on the SORD M5

Steve Benway plays Real Tennis on the SORD M5

Gaming on the SORD M5

Despite the overall lack of success of this machine, there are still a small number of games available for it.

Some examples worth playing include:

  • Guttang Gottong
  • Photon (developed in 2009)
  • Pooyan
  • Real Tennis
  • Snaky
  • Step Up
  • Super Cobra
  • Tank Battalion
  • Wonder Hole
  • Word Maze

Modern Classic Photon on the SORD M5

Another Picture of the SORD M5

The SORD M5 - It's kinda cool in a retro way...
The SORD M5 - It's kinda cool in a retro way...

Fancy A Gamble on your SORD M5?

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