Interact Electronics was started in 1976 by Ken Lochner, a programmer who in the 1960’s
worked on the
Dartmouth Time-Sharing System.
The Interact computer was originally envisioned as a simple 4K game machine without a keyboard, but
further development showed that it could be much more – a full-fledged user-programmable computer.
By 1978, two years of redesign and $1 million in development costs resulted in the completed
Interact Model One computer system. The Interact Model One was shown by NCE/CompuMart at the
Personal Computing ’78
Personal Computer Show, which was held in Philadelphia, PA over the weekend of August 24th thru 27th, 1978.
The Model One system has no built-in programs – all programs and data must be loaded from the built-in cassette tape.
Although the programming language Edu-BASIC is included with the purchase of the Model One, it is very limited, and works with
integers only. An improved Level II BASIC (23MB PDF document)
was licenced from Microsoft, and features most of the command enjoyed by more advanced computer systems.
Interact published The Book of Interact Programs
(8MB PDF document) to introduce the owner to the BASIC programming language.
In order to keep the price low, a character generator was never incorporated – all screen text is generated
bit-by-bit using the CPU. The characters are very large – only 17 characters per line, 12 lines per screen.
There are no peripheral ports other then two joystick ports.
At the 1979 CES (Consumer Electronics Show), Interact announced four versions of the Model One:
||$449.95||– the basic, no-frills version, comes with Edu-BASIC cassette tape.|
||$549.95||– includes program pack (12 cassettes) with Level II BASIC, game controllers.|
||$599.95||– includes raised keyboard, program pack w/ Level II BASIC, game controllers.|
||$699.95||– includes raised keyboard, printer interface, program pack w/ Level II BASIC, game controllers.|
Unfortunately, sales were slow, and the two “Professional” line of systems were never released.
Only a few thousand Model One systems were ever sold, and Interact Electronics closed their doors after just one year on December 31, 1979.
At this time, there were still thousands of systems and parts in warehouses, and it turns out that this “abandoned” system would live-on well into the mid-1980:
who continued to
sell the systems (1.5MB PDF document) until their supply, some non-operational, was exhausted.
as the Interact Model “R”, mostly
At the end of 1981, they also sold their remaining inventory to Micro Video.
Micro Video was formed back in June 1979 when Interact Electronics was still in business, for the sole
purpose of selling the Interact Model One computer system to their own customers as an electronics
They eventually acquired the rights to the computer system after Interact Electronics went out of business,
took over the manufacturing facilities and inventory, and continued to market and support the Interact Model One
as their own product. Here is their Spring 1981 Interact Computer Product Catalog
(2MB PDF document).
Building on previous guides from Interact, Micro Video published the improved
(9MB PDF document from 1980) – “A guide to BASIC programming for the Interact Computer.”
You can also download numerous Micro Video program guides and manuals:
In mid-1980, Micro Video president David Ross stated that there were about 3,500 – 5,500 Model One owners.
From 1981 to 1983, Micro Video distributed the Interact Network Newsletter
(12MB PDF document from http://old-computers.com), later renamed as “RAM Pages”, to their customers for free,
then eventually for $20/year. In the fall of 1982 they stated that there were over 7,000 Interact users.
Other newsletters available at the time included (these are all poor photocopies):
Like the TI-99/4 and PET 2001 computers, the Interact
originally had an insufficient chiclet-style
keyboard, which was eventually replaced by a more standard one.
The Interact Model One had a labor-intensive construction – dozens of wires had to be manually soldered in place
by skilled technicians.
You can download the Interact Service Manual
(20MB PDF document) if you need to repair your system.
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