The ABC 80 (Advanced BASIC Computer 80) was a home computer engineered by the Swedish corporation Dataindustrier AB (DIAB) and manufactured by Luxor in Motala, Sweden in the late 1970s (first model August 1978) and early 1980s. It was based on the Zilog Z80 running at 3 MHz and had 16 KB RAM, expandable to 32 KB, and 16 KB ROM containing a fast semi-compiling BASIC interpreter.
ABC 80 normally used a dedicated (included) tape recorder for program and data storage, but could also be expanded to handle disk drives (and many other peripherals). Some sound effects could be produced by a Texas Instruments SN76477 sound chip which was connected to an 8-bit output port, but there was no way to control the chip’s features in any detail, so sound was limited to 96 fixed sounds. The monitor was a black and white TV set modified for the purpose (an obvious choice since Luxor also made TVs). The computer had excellent I/O response times, something that was discovered when trying to upgrade to personal computers. The solution was to use a microcontroller that communicated with a PC. The main unit had a reset button as well.
ABC 80 was also manufactured on license as BRG ABC80 by Budapesti Rádiótechnikai Gyár in Hungary. It used the same keyboard, but the case was metal instead of plastic.
The ABC 80 was a huge hit in Sweden, and grasped a majority share of the rising personal computer market thanks to its office software in Swedish. Although the ABC 80 fans would defend the ABC 80 by referring to its good BASIC and usable extension bus, it couldn’t defend the home market against the gaming computers with color graphics and better sound that arrived in the early 80s like the Commodore 64, even though a new cheaper version was released that could use an ordinary TV instead of the dedicated video-monitor.
Luxor held on to its office market for a couple of years longer with the ABC 800 series, which had a more extensive BASIC, more memory and a 512×240 ‘high-resolution’ graphics mode, but otherwise similar performance. In 1985 Luxor also tried to compete in the office market against the IBM PC with its ill-fated ABC 1600 and ABC 9000 series UNIX computers, but failed.
… and the boxes