The Tomy Pyuuta Demonstration Cartridge

Before Sarah Purcell tried to sell you a computer, there was this.

Last modify 23 August 2020.

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[Front of the box.]

I don't know very much about the provenance or availability of the Japanese Tomy Pyuuta demonstration cartridge; this is only the third unit I have been able to personally verify. However, the American demo cartridge seems to be rarer as I have only verified two, including the one I personally possess. The Japanese demonstration comes in a pretty pink box specific to it but seems to lack a price tag, UPC or stock number. It may only have ever been provided to retailers as a promotional item and if so would never have been commercially sold. The copyright date is 1983.

Click the image for a full-size .JPG (79K).

[Back of the box.]

Directions are on the back for unattended demonstration. Translation of the instructions (by me, pardon any inaccuracies):

"This demonstration cartridge is programmed with an introduction to the three functions of the Pyuuta.
"(1) When demonstrating at a store, when the screen displays "please press which key out of 1 2 3" press the 1 key for color graphics, press the 2 key for G-BASIC [and] press the 3 key for cartridge. The respective function is introduced and you will return to the Pyuuta title screen."
"(2) If you will be demonstrating it in a place out of reach of people, such as in a window, when "please press which key out of 1 2 3" is displayed, if you press the SHIFT key while pressing the ? key all the individual scenes will be endlessly repeated."

Click the image for a full-size .JPG (93K).


The American demo cartridge (as described in the Myth-Marketing-Muddle page) is clearly descended from the Japanese demo cartridge albeit with some substantial modifications (as well as English text, naturally). Interestingly, the Japanese demo cartridge is not actually compatible with the American Tutor, or presumably the mk II, in that it lacks the katakana characters and apparently cannot properly read the keyboard. These screenshots are thus taken on my Pyuuta. Again, translations by me, so pardon any inaccuracies.

Title screen.

Main menu ("Pyuuta's 3 functions"), with option 1 for "color graphics," option 2 for "G-BASIC" (see the Pyuuta page for how this differs from GBASIC), and option 3 for "cartridge game." The game displayed is Saurusland, but this actually isn't the game that's demonstrated!

The prompt reads, "The functions are individually introduced. Please press which key out of 1, 2 [or] 3."

Graphics mode, drawing the Space Shuttle, though the astronaut was removed for the American version.

The text reads, "In addition, it's easy to make animation on the Pyuuta." The GRAPHIC prompt is the same as the American prompt in sprite editing mode ("1 sprite equals 1 colour; 1=extinguished [null]").

G-BASIC mode. The text reads, "Pyuuta is a personal computer. Programming is done in G-BASIC. G-BASIC is [in] Japanese. In addition, it is easy to operate. Combining G-BASIC with Pyuuta graphics can make beautiful original software."

"Pyuuta has 20K ROM, 16K RAM [and] a 16-bit CPU." This is false; the Pyuuta has 32K of ROM. It adds, "Here a G-BASIC program is demonstrated."

"G-BASIC PROGRAMMING" with the monitaa up, giving it the jikkou (execute) command, like American GBASIC's GRUN.

The program being entered is a math table example, which isn't really very compelling.

Finally, cartridge mode. "For Pyuuta, there are a lot of cartridges as well. Just insert a cartridge to easily enjoy a video game. Not only games but also other things such as education and home finance are planned for sale." This was also eventually proven false; every single Japanese domestic cartridge except this one is a game, though SKUs for these other titles have been reported.

Despite showing sprites from Saurusland on the main screen, the demonstrated game is in fact Night Flight, which is a much better choice ("Here just a little of this fun cartridge game is demonstrated").

Finally, the "development schematic," which I have shown here compared with the corresponding screen from the American version. The American version has six major classes of peripherals, namely the voice synthesizer, tape recorder (i.e., Data Recorder), line printer, "TI Adapter" (i.e., Tomy's rebadged version of the Texas Instruments Peripheral Expansion Box), joy stick [sic] and joy controller. Only the Data Recorder and joystick/controllers were released, of course; you can see mockups of the unreleased devices on the Myth-Marketing-Muddle page. All of these are shown as freestanding connections to the Tutor, so the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they were all intended to be independent peripherals.

The original Japanese scheme, however, was somewhat different (notably lacking the PEB likely due to the very low market penetration of Texas Instruments' home computers in that market), in addition to lacking the joystick, of course. Here, both the voice synthesizer and the data recorder are shown as directly connecting to the Tutor, but the line printer, floppy disk drive and acoustic coupler are shown as connecting to the "motherboard" (the orange box). The BASIC-1 peripheral for the Pyuuta does indeed connect to the mainboard's I/O slot and provides a printer interface, but the floppy drive and acoustic coupler never appeared, and if they connected to the same slot then it would not have been possible to have multiple devices installed at once. The Data Recorder also connects directly to the Tutor, but if the voice synthesizer does not connect to the "motherboard" as the other three devices do, then the only other possibility is that it was intended as a cartridge and connected through there, possibly with a passthrough. The Game Adaptor is not even mentioned despite actually existing, though to be sure it wasn't necessary until the larger "3-D" games started appearing in 1984.

Interestingly, the Pyuuta Manual has this same basic diagram, but the "motherboard" has been eliminated and devices simply connect to the machine using bespoke interfaces (including an "RS232C serial interface" for the coupler). The voice synthesizer option is also absent, which suggests the demo cartridge precedes the manual.

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