Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

DEC Rainbow 100 Model A

DEC Rainbow 100 Model A

Speed4 MHz
Memory128 KB

What's this?

Release Date: 1/1/1982
Manufacturer: Digital Equipment Corporation
 
Donated By: Nickle Family Foundation
 
The Rainbow 100 was a microcomputer introduced by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1982 to compete in the IBM PC market. This desktop unit had the video-terminal display circuitry from the VT102, a video monitor similar to the VT220 in a box with both Z80 and 8088 CPUs. The Rainbow 100 was a triple-boot machine: VT102 mode, CP/M mode (using the Z80), and CP/M-86 or MS-DOS mode using the 8088.

The Rainbow came in three models, the 100A, 100B and 100+. The 'A' model didn't allow for a hard disk controller, whereas the 'B' allowed this option and the '+' shipped with the controller and a hard drive. Versions of the 100A shipped outside the USA included a user changeable ROM chip in a special casing. The user changed the built in ROM for this one to support their keyboard layout and language of the boot screen. The 100B has this selection built into the boot up firmware.

The '100+' model is actually a marketing designation signifying that the system ships with a hard drive installed; the 100+ and 100B are identical in all other respects. The '100B' (and '100+' by definition) had the option to boot from the hard disk (or Winchester drive, as it appeared in the boot menu), while the '100A' firmware did not support booting directly from the hard disk.

The '100A' model shipped with 128 KB memory on the motherboard, while the '100B' had 192 KB memory on the motherboard.


User Comments
F. Cass on Tuesday, November 22, 2011
We had some of these (Actually the GiGi(Gfx) version I think it was called...) in our high school computer classrooms in the 80's (Milford, NH USA). After school hours, I and some others figured out how to access it's graphics capabilities and wrote some games for it. My first computer was a TI-994/a though. And by the time I was using the Rainbow GiGi's at school we had an original Macintosh 512k at home and was progamming that in Pascal (and learning Pascal in our great programming class @H.School). Funny that not much later (7yrs after highschool?), I took a 3yr contract doing graphics software development for DEC (Makers of the Rainbow100). But it was 3D VR type graphics by that time, amazing how fast things change. When I finished with DEC I was making VR tradeshow exhibit software with some of the first 3D accelerator cards(3Dfx). But the Ti-994/a, and these Rainbow100's where what got me there for sure.
Fred Cass on Tuesday, November 22, 2011
We had some of these (Actually the GiGi(Gfx) version I think it was called...) in our high school computer classrooms in the 80's (Milford, NH USA). After school hours, I and some others figured out how to access it's graphics capabilities and wrote some games for it. My first computer was the great TI-994/a though. And by the time I was using the Rainbow GiGi's at school we had an original Macintosh 512k at home and I was progamming that in Pascal (and learning Pascal in our great programming class @H.School). Funny that not much later (7yrs after highschool?), I took a 3yr contract doing graphics software development for DEC (Makers of the Rainbow100). But it was 3D VR type graphics by that time, amazing how fast things change. When I finished with DEC I was making VR tradeshow exhibit software with some of the first 3D accelerator cards(3Dfx). But the Ti-994/a, and these Rainbow100's were what got me there for sure.
Jason on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
This was my first computer that was given to me and I even had a Star Trek game for it! It's hard to believe that I would see this again after all these years!!! Great Website
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