Project Beta

From The Dragon Archive

Project Beta was something altogether different, and saw GEC Dragon really wanting to hit the big time. Expecting to retail at £2500-3000, the micro used twin MC6809E processors, had 256K RAM (expandable to 768K) and offered two internal 3.5" floppy drives with an external hard disc available as an add-on. Together with an on-board power supply the machine also incorporated an 80-column display based on the MC6845 and an RGB monitor connection with the following display resolutions: 320*256*16 colours, 640*512*4, 640*256*4, 320*256*4 and a teletext mode of 160*72 (teletext being 40*24 with each character a 4*3 block).

The main CPU unit had a flat-top to support a monitor and the detached keyboard also featured a separate numeric pad. Together with a parallel Centronics, RS232, light-pen and mouse port, a mother-card was supplied providing expansion boards to be fitted. At the time of announcement only three had been fully developed: 1200/75 1200/1200 and 300/300 baud modem, quad serial port for OS-9 allowing multiple terminal access and a networking card allowing one machine to be used as a file-server to the others.

It is not known how many of these prototypes were built, only today one fully assembled Beta is known to exist and one working motherboard.

The Dragon 128 was certainly in development in 1984 as a Dragon Data project, the only things known about it are the 128Kb RAM, the WD2770 FDD and the MC6845 video - evidence comes from documents citing Vivaway as updating OS-9 for the Dragon 128. Whether this was a separate system, or something that later evolved into project Beta is not known. Some Dragon 128 documents have been uploaded to the Dragon Downloads area.