"The system for the seventies" -1982

Mattel Aquarius
Technical Information


Tech Links.

Hardware specs.


  Zilog Z80A  
  3.5 Mhz
  8k Cut down Microsoft Z80 Basic
  1.7k Standard, 48k Max.
  UHF out, Cassette IN/OUT, Expansion connector.


  INPUT: 240v 50Hz AC, 21W
  OUTPUT: +8.8VDC 2.1A, +16VDC 150mA, -19VDC 10mA



PC Connected!

Unbelievable but true, you can connect your old Aquarius to your PC, and send data to the PC. 

You will need :-
1 x 9 Pin-D Female connector
1 x 1/4 Inch stereo audio connector jack.
1 piece of 3 conductor wire.

Audio Jack TIP ---> Pin 2 (RxD) of the 9 pin D
Audio Jack RING ---> pin 4 (DTR) of the 9 Pin D
Audio Jack SHAFT --->  pin 5 (GND) of the 9 pin D
Connect pins 7 (CTS) and 8 (RTS) of the 9 Pin D together.
Connect pins 4 and 6 of the 9 pin D together

Push the audio jack into the PRINTER port of the Aquarius and the 9 Pin D into the serial port of your PC.

Using your favourite comms package such as HyperTerminal, set the comms parameters to 1200 baud, no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit and Hardware Handshaking. You must enable hardware handshaking as this provides the 'printer ready' signal to the aquarius.

Anything you LPRINT or COPY from the Aquarius will be received by the PC


Rom Encryption
The Game Cartridges (ROMs) used by the Aquarius Home Computer System were encrypted to prevent illegal access to the code. However the form of encryption was very weak and any programmer worth his salt would have sussed it out without too much trouble. Once you have a copy of the contents of the rom you only need to XOR each location with a specific value to decypher the rom. The specific value required varies for each ROM cartridge and is stored within the rom cartridge itself. However it too is encrypted and is not easy to decrypt. There is an easier way however! Simply write a BASIC or C program to take in the rom dump adn XOR it with every value form 0 to 0xff and see which one gives you the correct output. You will know when you have the right one because you'll be able to find the text 'COPYRIGHT MATTEL' inside the file.
Character Set
Here is a bitmap showing the entire character set of the Mattel Aquarius.
Note that the 80x72 'Hi-res' mode was acheived by the use of 64 characters from the set, not be programmable graphics!
Character Set