TIMEX Computer 3256

Timex Computer 3256 project started as Timex Computer 2256. Later, probably due to the release of Timex Terminal 3000, it was renumbered as 3256 since it would use a similar keyboard with IBM-style keys as the later version of Terminal 3000. It was the last computer developed with Timex technology by Timex Computer of Portugal. It would be the first computer to be sold with the new Timex Computer logo, just like the TC2010 Digital Tape Recorder has.

It was not marketed because after Amstrad bought Sinclair Research, the relationship with Timex got complicated. Only a handful of machines were assembled and one of those machines was reviewed by a journal called Microsete (number 46) in May 1987.

TC3256 was designed with 256K base memory (48K for the computer / 208K for a RAMdrive. The machine was being designed to be able to manage up to 1024K RAM, in this case with a 976K RAMdrive) and a keyboard with 69 keys much like the actual PC’s, very similar to Terminal 3000 with IBM style keys as it was the same size as the Terminal 3000. It was based on the Z80A CPU and it had five modes of operation.

  1. BASIC – This is the Spectrum mode.
  2. TIMEWORD PLUS is a word processor in ROM. It uses 80 columns screen and has all the Portuguese characters. It can use the RAM disk, FDD, or tape for storage. Have TABS, copy, and move blocks of text.
  3. Terminal CP/M – This mode was to replace the TT3000. It sets the TC3256, to use the FDD3000 in CP/M mode and it works in 80 columns.
  4. Disk Start – This gives the programmer 64K of RAM for the development of software. The biggest advantage is that the 64K RAM starts at 00H.
  5. CARTRIDGE – Specially designed for the software houses to protect the software, using cartridges.

TC3256 has a Local Area Network, the TENET (Timex Educational NETwork).

  • 25 stations
  • Maximum length: 100 meters
  • Sharing Printer and FDD System
  • Messaging system
  • Can be used in Timex Extended BASIC
  • Station low cost
  • Fully transparent to users’ software
  • Resists to failure or loss of stations

Timex Extended BASIC, has added more commands:

  • LOAD!, SAVE!, CAT!, MERGE!, ERASE! and CLEAR! to control the RAMdrive.
  • FORMAT!, LPRINT, LLIST to control the RS232
  • BEEP! x,y to control AY-3-8192 sound chip
  • SCREEN$, DRAW!, PLOT!, CIRCLE! to control the high-resolution screen mode. It allows us to work with PAPER and INK.
  • TC3256 doesn’t need anymore the FDD/FDD3000 interface. The FDD3000 is just connected like the TT3000.

TC3256 Specifications:

  • 256K RAM (48K + 208K RAMdrive)
  • 64K ROM (16K Sinclair BASIC + 16K Timeword + 16K Extended BASIC + 16K CP/M terminal)
  • 32×24 (256×192 pixels) or 64×24 (512×192 pixels) character screen
  • Sound generator AY-3-8192
  • 1 Kempson joystick port
  • Cartridge slot
  • TV output
  • Video composite and RGB monitor with composite sync TTL 
  • Can use FDD/FDD 3000 disk system
  • Colors: 8+BRIGHT=15
  • Keyboard: 69 keys, professional keyboard with numeric keyboard and function keys (Caps Lock, Extended, cursors, edit delete, break)
  • RS232: 1 (300 to 9600 baud)
  • Mic and Ear: Can use Tape

The LOAD ZX Museum has an unpopulated PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and a prototype keyboard in exhibition.