Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Scruffy and rare Jupiter Ace

Using Forth instead of BASIC and being all white in a era of black and beige 8-bit machines, the Jupiter Ace never really stood a chance. Not that it wasn't an interesting and cleverly designed micro, mind you, but those markets have always been too fickle. Anyway. For a chance to own one of these rare computers at a sensible price I suggest you have a look at this actually affordable Jupiter Ace eBay auction.

The micro is sadly scratched and looks pretty scruffy, but seems to be operating properly. It also comes with mains adapter, TV lead, cassette player cables, demo tape, manual and 6 tapes worth of games.

Seller ships to most of Europe, Australia, Russia, USA, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and Japan.


  1. I have never heard of the Jupiter Ace. What does it play like? And was ever it released in the US?

    1. Well, it's quite a bit like the ZX81 when it comes to graphics. Also, no, I don't think it ever made it to the US.

  2. The similarities to the ZX81 are more than coincidental. Jupiter Cantab was set up by Steve Vickers and Richard Altwasser. Both had previously worked on the ZX Spectrum for Sinclair Research - Vickers wrote the Spectum's ROM at Nine Tiles software, while Altwasser had designed the Spectrum's hardware.

    Having decided to become their own bosses, they formed Jupiter Cantab. Cantab is short for Cantabridgian, meaning "of Cambridge". Both Vickers and Altwasser had degrees from Cambridge University, and had been based there while working for (or with) Sinclair Research.

    Weirdly, despite both making significant contributions to the venerable ZX Spectrum, their next computer, the Jupiter Ace, was more like the ZX81 - right down to the case design, use of RAM expansions and black and white graphics. The decision to go with FORTH as the built in language was mainly to distinguish it from a sea of other early 80s British micros, which all tended to use BASIC.

    Course - there was a reason all their competitors used BASIC - i was because BASIC was fairly easy to pick up and learn for those who'd never programmed a computer before. FORTH was much more difficult to learn.

    A rapidly growing and crowded market made selling the Jupiter Ace to the masses a difficult proposition - especially as it had a distinct lack of games or educational software. Which would you rather do? Copy your mate's tape of Chuckie Egg or Manic Miner for the BBC B or ZX Spectrum? Or get to grips with learning a fairly obscure programming language?

    Jupiter Canab released the ACE in 1982, but by 1984, they'd called the receivers in. The remaining inventory of Aces was sold to Boldfield Communications, who commissioned some games, database software and a few peripherals, like a modem, monitor adapters, etc. But this was really only to make their remaining stock a more appealing proposition to customers. They didn't produce any new Aces themselves.

    Still, those who bought a nd kept their Jupiter Ace in favour of ZX Spectrums and so on can sell them for a fair bit these days. :D

  3. Thank you deeply for the kind and enlightening historic bits dear Bob :) As always, they are deeply appreciated.

    Cheers & my very best!