Manufacturer NEC
Model 8401A aka Starlet
Operating System CP/M
RAM 32K-96K
Year Introduced 1985
Price as introduced ($) $999

What the basic system looks like with a RAM cartridge installed.  The 1200 baud modem is to the right of the computer


The Starlet is the successor to the 8201 and the 8300.

The major differences are obviously, the flip up screen with a resolution of 80 X 16, and a "real" operating system CP/M.  The old menu style OS was still available.  Fact is, I can't figure out how to turn it off!

Again, RAM cartridges added "choo-choo" style to the side could boost the RAM from 32K up to 96K.  Of course, with the Z-80 compatible chip, the most RAM directly addressable is 64K, so the other 32K would be utilized as a RAM disk.

There a couple of different modes of operation, 32K and 64K CP/M.  All the basic CP/M commands were available in 32K mode, but it didn't really leave you a whole lot of room to work with.

The 64K mode is much more flexible, but you have to have the RAM cartridge installed to use it.  If you wanted to use the modem, you'd have to shut down, unplug the RAM cart, install the 1200 baud modem, restart and proceed from there.  Of course, you could use the built-in 300 baud modem if you didn't mind the speed down shift and keep the RAM intact.

The 1200 baud modem.  Curiously, there aren't any phone jacks on the back of this unit.  Guess it routes all the modem circuitry through this unit and ports the call out the installed 300 baud modem.

A closer look at the 32K RAM cartridge installed.  It has a back up battery installed, but draws main power from the computer.

After the Starlet was out for a while, it was replaced by the 8500.  About the only difference between the 2 was the screen was once again bumped up.  This time to 25 lines.

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