The "Original" Tomy Pyuuta

Last modify 23 August 2020. Please contact me FIRST! before using any photographs from this page.

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The original Pyuuta, from 1982. I obtained this unit and several cartridges in an eBay auction at a fantastic price, which was in full working order and included the manual (in reasonable condition but some pages were missing) and original controller packs.

This unit uses 100V 60Hz current, for which step-down transformers are easily available (mine was $30 at Fry's). Although it will work on USA mains voltage, doing so is probably a straightforward way of diminishing the mean lifetime of the computer's power supply. Don't risk it.

[Thumbnail of main unit.]

The main unit (displayed above). Click the thumbnail for a larger view of the unit (92K).
You can also see a closeup of the keys (86K). In particular, note the "English SHIFT" key (lower left) and the "symbol SHIFT" (to its right), and that most keys have three characters; however, there is no support in the Pyuuta ROMs for lower case characters. Interestingly, the hard plastic space bar is much wider, and the RT key is made of the same hard plastic material as the space bar instead of the Chiclet rubber of the Tutors.

Although the placement of characters seems bizarre to us in the States, the katakana are actually in a standard JIS keyboard layout. (The BASIC-1 layout is below.)

[Thumbnail of the box.]

The box has several screenshots of Tomy games and included GBASIC programs. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (104K).

The box shows the controllers, which were included with every computer sold. The copy at the bottom says (freely translated), terebi ga yuuenchi ni naru ([your] TV turns into an amusement park). bijutsukan ni naru ([it] turns into an art gallery). toshokan ni naru ([it] turns into a library). It is roughly the same on both front and back.

[Thumbnail of underside.]

Here is the underside of the unit. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (61K), or zoom in on the label (20K). The screws to remove the cover are on this side.

[Thumbnail of the opened unit.]

Separate the halves and carefully remove the keyboard cable. When you have done this correctly, it should look like the above picture (click the thumbnail for a larger view [64K]).

[Thumbnail of the Faraday cage within the unit.]

Let's open the unit up (click the thumbnail for a larger view [50K]). The red arrow indicates the RF modulator (Japanese NTSC), which may or may not be secured in your unit (in mine, it was taped). Slide off the heat sink clamps (they may also be taped) and put them aside. The blue arrows indicate the screws holding down the Faraday cage; also note the power LED cable, which should be carefully avoided (or make sure to note the polarity if you must disconnect it).

Now that we have removed the Faraday cage ...

[Thumbnail of the Pyuuta internals.]

... we expose the main board, shown in the thumbnail. The arrows indicate several notes of interest; the green arrow indicates the 9918ANL, which in this unit is covered with heat grease and contacts the Faraday cage. Do not try to wipe it off. The yellow arrow indicates the 9995NL CPU, the white arrow indicates the SN76489AN sound chip (in a different position than the Mk II or the American Tutor), the cyan arrow the power supply (here is a closeup of the power supply [105K]), and the purple arrow the power leads from the supply.

Click the thumbnail for a larger view (238K).

The red arrow indicates the single system ROM (here is a close-up [44K]). This ROM contains the Japanese GBASIC and GRAPHIC modes.

[Thumbnail of some Pyuuta cartridges.]

Most of my collection of boxed Pyuuta cartridges from various generations (see the Incomplete Catalogue. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (157K).

[Thumbnail of the BASIC-1 cartridge.]

The BASIC-1 "cartridge" is unusual in that it's not, actually, a cartridge -- it connects to the I/O port, so it's really better called a peripheral. In fact, the Pyuuta is the only machine of the Tomy line that actually has I/O port peripherals available. The BASIC-1 box provides a standard Tutor BASIC ROM and character set as well as a functional printer interface (but, even though it provides IEEE 1284 signals, is not a Centronics-style port). It's purely for the Pyuuta; connecting it to the Mark II or the American Tutor doesn't work and makes some alarmingly weird visuals, though fortunately it doesn't appear to cause any damage (regardless, don't do it). Click the thumbnail for a larger view (70K).

[Thumbnail of the BASIC-1 keyboard overlay.]

The cartridge also came with an English keyboard overlay since BASIC was all English, not katakana (like G-BASIC is -- see below for the differences). The overlay is merely a thin though durable plastic sheet that completely covers the keyboard except for the keys, which stick out through cutouts. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (77K).

[Thumbnail of the Pyuuta Game Adaptor.]

Another device that connected to the I/O port is the Game Adaptor (yes, spelled with an O: it's not the Game Adapter). As explained in the Incomplete Catalogue, this provides the extra addressing line for the larger "3D Game" cartridge ROMs. It does work with American Tutors, and in fact American Tutors require the Adaptor to play 3D Game cartridges as well, but Tomy never sold those cartridges in the USA and therefore the Game Adaptor wasn't needed either. Notice the diagram on the label telling you to remove the Adaptor before removing the cartridge. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (56K).

[Thumbnail of the Game Adaptor port.]

Looking into the Adaptor's maw. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (42K).

[Thumbnail of a comparison of the Game Adaptor and BASIC-1 peripherals.]

Separated at birth? The Adaptor and the BASIC-1 peripheral are obviously housed in the same case mould, with the Adaptor's label where the punchout for the BASIC-1's printer port would be and the BASIC-1 label where the slot for the Adaptor's cartridge would be. Unfortunately, you cannot connect both of them simultaneously, which is a colossal bummer. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (36K).

[Exterior of Pyuuta carrying case.]

Every cool Japanese kid would of course bring the Pyuuta to school to show it off -- but the really cool ones had the official Pyuuta case to do it in, complete with Pyuuta badge on the front. Click the thumbnail for a larger view (30K).

[Interior of Pyuuta carrying case.]

The interior. This was actually very well thought-out: besides the spot for the computer (fuzzed here on purpose to draw attention to the rest of it) there are nooks and crannies for just about everything, including cables, cartridges, joy controllers, a spot for the Pyuuta's cord and even a little niche for the RF switchbox! Don't believe that? Well, I scanned the insert and put it in the Scans section just to prove it. See below.

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[Thumbnail of the Pyuuta manual.]

A scan of the front cover of the very complete manual (93K). It's much better written and more thorough than the American easel manual ... but unfortunately for most curious American users, it's in Japanese.

[Thumbnail of the system manual scan.]

A scan of the manual section detailing the Pyuuta's multiple expansion options (36K). Intriguingly, there are several peripherals offered that I don't even think got as far as vapourware for the American Tutors. As the icons obviously show, printer interfaces, floppy disk controllers and even an RS-232 interface with an acoustic coupler were envisioned as options, though the way they were intended to connect is more simplified than the schematic in the Japanese Demo Cartridge. Compare this with the selection in the Purcell Pamphlet where there is no Expansion Box offered for the Pyuuta, and likewise no coupler offered for the Tutor.

Obviously, most of the Pyuuta's peripheral options wound up being vapourware just like the Tutor's; only the printer interface (as BASIC-1), data recorder and joy controllers were produced, plus the Game Adaptor, which wouldn't have been necessary at the time the manual was originally written.

[Thumbnail of the Pyuuta case insert.]

As promised, a scan of the Pyuuta carrying case insert (30K). Look and see that I wasn't kidding: there's a spot for the RF switchbox too!

[Thumbnail of Pyuuta BASIC-1 manual.]

A scan of the front cover of the also very complete BASIC-1 manual (122K), which is also substantially more complete than the American manual. In fact, a fair bit of the gaps in the documentation in our Programming the Tomy Tutor section were filled by consulting it.

[Thumbnail of Pyuuta BASIC-1 manual screenshot mockup.]

The BASIC-1 manual makes it clear that it does more than just add the BASIC ROM; it includes the entire American v2.3 firmware (59K). I didn't bother showing you a screenshot since it would be indistinguishable from an American Tutor, naturally.

[BASIC-1 printer port pinout.]

The last page of the manual contains a pinout for the non-Centronics printer port, allowing you to build a passive converter. It is specifically advertised as compatible with the Astor International MCP-40 "4 color printer plotter," presumably a rebadge of the Oric-1 MCP-40, and Tomy indicated they would be selling it to those who made inquiries (no idea if any actually got out, of course). This is the same basic ALPS DPG-1302 printer-plotter sold by many contemporary computer companies in various forms such as the Mattel Aquarius 4615 and Tandy CGP-115 (the same mechanism also appears in the decidedly incompatible Commodore 1520 and Atari 1020 plotters as well). A cable to connect the BASIC-1 to the MCP-40's Centronics-style parallel port was allegedly included.

Finally, just a couple of Tomy's bizarre Japanese marketing circulars:

[Thumbnail of a boy scar(r)ed by the Pyuuta.]

Unlike the far more enthusiastic kids on the Tomy Tutor box, this Japanese boy seems deeply disturbed by the thought of the Pyuuta (85K). The same slogan on the Pyuuta's box that I translated above (terebi ga ...) appears on this December 1982 flyer.

[Thumbnail of T-Rex approving of the Tomy Pyuuta.]

T-Rex, however, heartily approves of the Pyuuta (154K) in this flyer from June 1983: Pasokon de, kageki na omocha ja (literally, "Being a computer, it's an extreme toy," or more freely, "It's a computer, so it's one hell of a toy"). The MSRP for the Pyuuta is clearly shown at 59,800¥.

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The Pyuuta OS is a schizophrenic beast, mostly in Japanese katakana, but occasionally in English. There is no hiragana or kanji support, not surprising in a little 16K computer of its day with its limited resolution, and even the katakana font isn't that great (but it works). Without the BASIC-1 device there is no BASIC of any kind, only the intriguing Japanese GBASIC variant, but the title screen is very similar, and the menu is identical (other than the language).

[Pyuuta main screen.]
The Pyuuta title screen. Unlike the scrolling colour bars of the American Tutor and Mk II, the original Pyuuta just draws them in place, and the characters for Pyuuta slowly appear one by one. The screen very politely tells you to kii (w)o oshite kudasai (please press a key).

[Pyuuta main menu.]
The main menu (menyuu). GRAPHIC, "G-BASIC" and kaatorijji (cartridge) options are available. Just like the American Tutor, the menu has instructions: down kii: kaasoru ga ugokimasu (down key: move the cursor), RT kii: jikkoo shimasu (RT key: execute).

[Pyuuta graphic mode and
character set.]
Graphics mode ("1rain 2shoku kakemasu" ["one line can display two colours"]), and the Pyuuta character set and katakana.

[Pyuuta sprite editing.]
Editing sprites on the Pyuuta; to the great consternation of otakus such as myself, Tomy calls them "anime" ("1anime 1shoku desu" ["one sprite equals one colour"]). The other snippet of katakana indicates the kesu or "extinguished" (clear) colour.

[Pyuuta MONitor in GRAPHIC mode.]
There's a MONitor, just like the Tomy Tutor's, only it's the monitaa.

We go back to the menu by typing in menyuu, and this time we'll look at G-BASIC.

[Pyuuta G-BASIC.]
Pyuuta GBASIC (or, as the menu states, "G-BASIC"). Unlike the later version of GBASIC in the Mk II and the American Tutor, Pyuuta "G-BASIC" can use the entire screen.

The top line states taipu in ok "type-in okay" and waits for a command (just like English GBASIC "ready"). Our next line reads 10 KAKE30,"HELLO" (kake is the imperative form of the verb kaku, to write); the equivalent in English GBASIC would be 10 PRNT30,"HELLO" .

[Pyuuta G-BASIC (#2).]
The MONitor is accessible from G-BASIC on the Pyuuta as well. To get there, instead of END, we'll type OWARI in katakana ('ending'). Note the eraa "error" complaints (I just typed in garbage to make it whine): boy, that's familiar.

[Pyuuta MONitor in G-BASIC mode.]
Interestingly, G-BASIC on the Pyuuta is a two-headed monster, but its dual nature is hardly obvious: superficially, there seems to be no functional difference from a command standpoint between invoking the MONitor from G-BASIC or GRAPHIC mode; the same commands seem to be active, and the MONitor seems to act the same. However, some of you may have already asked the question: how does one manipulate the graphics screen like English GBASIC?

[Pyuuta G-BASIC sample program.]
Let's enter a simple program and see what happens. To see if we can get to the graphics screen from here, I'll add in code to copy CELL(1) to CELL(10) (seru), overwriting the first character of "HELLO."

[Pyuuta MONitor in G-BASIC mode #2.]
Now we will execute it by typing jikkoo (execution).

[Output of sample program.]
And here is our output. "HELLO" was printed at cell 10, but cell 10 was overwritten with the green cell 1 we see on screen, not the cell 1 that was in graphics mode. (Take my word for it -- I only have the default grid and no images loaded.)

[English commands to the Pyuuta MONitor in GRAPHIC mode.]
The trick is that there are actually some English commands in the Pyuuta MONitor, and that's how you get to G-BASIC from GRAPHIC mode to manipulate the screen. This is terribly poor design, in my opinion -- if you're going to use katakana commands, stick with it. Not only is there a GBASIC command, but there is also a GRAPHIC command.

[Pyuuta G-BASIC in GRAPHIC mode.]
taipu in ok, just as before, but now in the 2-line window only.

[Pyuuta G-BASIC sample program in GRAPHIC mode.]
We will now re-enter the exact same program, although I'm tired of holding down alpha lock all the time and just typed konnichiwa for the text.

[Executing the program in GRAPHIC mode.]
Moo ichido jikkoo suru na ...

[Result in GRAPHIC mode.]
And now we can see that the ko was replaced by cell 1, but the grid this time, not the green blank cell.

Still, this is a rather good way to confuse one's target audience, especially one that might not be terribly adept in English. It also begs the question of why there is a separate option for G-BASIC from the menu since it is even more greatly limited if it can't do much with the screen.

[Pooyan on the Pyuuta.]
One last note about the Pyuuta and Tutor is that there is obviously common code in the ROM for prompts and messages. For example, Pooyan asks the PLAYER 1, 2? prompt in katakana when plugged into the Pyuuta -- even if it's an American Pooyan cartridge.

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