The Phoenix

written by Matthew Reed

Progressive Electronics advertisement

Progressive Electronics advertisement
from the December 1983 issue of 80 Micro

One of the more intriguing TRS‑80 clones was the Phoenix, first advertised by Progressive Electronics in the August 1983 issue of 80 Micro. Designed by Keith Helwig, one of the proprietors of Progressive Electronics, the Phoenix was manufactured and sold in Lancaster, Ohio.

The Phoenix was offered in two configurations. The first was the “Basic kit” which cost $599 and included:

  • Z80 CPU with a hardware and software selectable 2 MHz and 5 MHz clock
  • Software compatibility with the Model III and Model 4
  • 128K RAM card (less RAM)
  • 80 by 24 and 64 by 16 uppercase and lower case alphanumeric video
  • High resolution 512 by 256 graphics (less 16K video RAM)
  • Double-density disk controller with support for up to four drives with any mix of 5¼" and 8"
  • Parallel printer and light pen interfaces
  • Built-in audio
  • Standard typewriter keyboard with numeric keypad
  • Tan polyurethane enameled metal enclosure, with power supply

The second configuration was the “Complete kit” which cost $1699 and added:

  • High-resolution 12" green screen monitor
  • Two slimline 5¼" floppy drives
  • Hand rubbed, solid walnut end panels
  • RS232 interface board
  • System ROM
  • 128K RAM (64K normal plus 64K bank-selectable)
  • 16K high resolution graphics RAM

Progressive Electronics also offered a number of options for the Phoenix. Some of the more interesting sounding options included:

  • 128K bank selectable RAM board (for a total of 256K)
  • Color graphics
  • Light pen
  • Factory assembly

Those are respectable feature lists for a computer at the time, especially considering the price.

But how compatible was the Phoenix with the TRS‑80? Steve Poling, one of the first purchasers of the Phoenix, described it as completely compatible. He stated that it “ran EVERY piece of TRS‑80 software you could find” and “was the most compatible clone I ever owned..  TRSDOS/LDOS/CP/M…  whatever you wanted to run for an operating system.” He also described it as “quite a feat of engineering for the time” saying his system “ran flawlessly for over five years” until he sold it.

Progressive Electronics continued to advertise the Phoenix until early 1984.

Categories: Computers