Exidy Sorcerer: The 8-Track Computer
By James Grahame
The Zilog Z-80 powered Sorcerer was built by arcade game maker Exidy. It was short-lived and fairly unremarkable, except for one thing -- it was the first home computer with a ROM cartridge port for instant program access (most home users still struggled with error-prone cassette tape storage in the late 1970s).
The designers cleverly repurposed 8-track tape shells to house the cartridge circuit board and EPROM chips ( to reduce development costs, no doubt) and a Microsoft BASIC cartridge was included with every unit.
The Sorcerer retailed for $895 with 8K RAM and an expansion chassis was available to allow the use of S-100 expansion boards. The machine ran the CP/M operating system, which was popular with hardcore hobbyists and business users. It generated a 64 x 30 character monochrome display, with a fairly impressive 512×240 graphic mode.
Exidy walked away from the home computer market in 1980, unable to compete with machines like the Apple ][, which offered color graphics and built-in expansion (including a remarkably affordable floppy drive designed by Steve Wozniak).
The Sorcerer and other classics are featured in Maximum PC's Dawn of the Personal Computer: From Altair to the IBM PC