Visual Technology Visual 1050

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Visual Technology, Inc.

Visual Technology Visual 1050

Last Update: Tue 17 Nov 2014 22:35:00 EST

CP/M 3.0 Loader
Copyright (C) 1982, Digital Research

BNKBDOS3 SPR 8300 2E00


CP/M Version 3.0, BIOS version 1.0



Visual Technology was a Massachusetts-based company (Tewksbury, Lowell) best known for their line of video display terminals.

Information about Visual's line of video display terminals can be found at Video Display Terminals based on Z80 Family.

Visual terminal reference manuals and user's guides available at manx.

In the early 1980s Visual produced a CP/M 3-based system called the Visual 1050. This system was interesting in that in addition to the Z80, it also included a 6502 on board as a graphics co-processor.

The 1050 design was initially developed by Ontel as part of their Amigo line according to Bob Hanrahan in an email from September 2005:

The Amigo was a system being evaluated by Ontel during 1981 as a new cost reduced system for the very low end. The Amigo was designed originally by a company in Asia who I now have forgotten. Ontel bought the design and performed some minor modifications. Initially manufactured in Woodbury it was a textbook Z80 design with Intel 82XX peripheral chips, very similar to the Ontel architecture except designed for lowest cost. The system was based on the then advanced Zilog Z80 so it was capable of text editing using the single chip DMA, no stand alone DMA controller board was needed.

Another cousin to the 1050 was the C/WP Cortex which was what appears to be an Amigo system at the core with case modifications and software changes to promote ease-of-use.

It is difficult to determine the owner of this intellectual property now due to a series of mergers, acquisitions, corporate renames, etc:

  • In 1982, the assets of Ontel Corporation were purchased by Visual Technology.
  • In September 1993, Visual merged with White Pine Software under the White Pine name.
  • In March 2000, White Pine sold its X-server and host connectivity business to Powerlan USA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Powerlan Limited (Australia). This action was quickly followed by White Pine changing its name to CUseeMe Networks in May 2000.
  • In March 2001, CUseeMe merged with First Virtual Communications under the FVC name.
  • In March 2005, RADVISION acquired all of the assets and intellectual property of First Virtual Communications, including its Click to Meet (formerly CUSeeMe) solution.


MAME/MESS supplies a driver for emulating the Visual 1050. See the emulation page for more details.


OLD-COMPUTERS.COM has a good overview of the Visual 1050.

Dave Dunfield has some additional pictures.

Some additional general notes about the system, mainly pulled from the comp.os.cpm newsgroup.


Note that the Programmer's Technical Document and the Maintenance Manual are not scanned in their entirety. I did not scan the included datasheets for the support chips since in most cases they are available from multiple sources on the net. I have included most here in the System Support section of this page.

The schematics have been scanned separately here; they were originally included as part of the Maintenance Manual.

System Disks

Dave Dunfield has made system disk images in his ImageDisk format available.

Note that these disks are version 1.1 of the Visual 1050 BIOS for CP/M 3. This version of the BIOS does not have support for an external hard drive via the Winchester port. Please let me know if you can help with a different version of 1050 system disks that provides Winchester support

CP/M 3.0 Operating System

The CP/M 3.0 source code modified by Visual for operation on the 1050. As above, this is version 1.1 of the BIOS and does not include Winchester support.

The source to the TTY1050 communications program.


The Z80 boot loader and 6502 graphics firmware ROMs.

The Z80 assembly source code listing for the boot ROM.

The 6502 assemblysource code listing for the graphics firmware.

Here are some notes for building your own ROM images from source.

System Support

The following is a list of documentation for some of the hardware in the system. Documentation for the Z80 and 6502 is so plentiful on the net I've not bothered to include them here.



Some additional 1050 specific files and programs originally from the CPMUG archives.

These include a graphic screen dump, RLE graphics, WS4 function key patch and notes on how to make a reset switch for the system.

Sales Traing Handout

This is the handout from a sales seminar for the Visual 1050 given back in February of 1984. It discusses strategies for positioning the 1050 in the market and provides competitive analysis against other popular systems of the day.

Visual 1050 Sales Training Handout (1.6M pdf)

Character Fonts

I wrote a short program using PixelToaster to display the default 1050 font set. The source code (C++) includes a C array of the bitmap definitions (8x12) for this font which is potentially a handy reference for creating your own fonts for the 1050 (the 1050 uses a soft font so you can program your own definitions into the display firmware via special escape sequences. See Appendix B of the Visual 1050 User's Guide for details.)

Source code is here. An ASCII table representation of the bitmap definitions is here.

Other Photographs

Includes some close ups of the motherboard.

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Other Sites

YouTube Videos

Some Visual 1050 related videos on YouTube.