LGR – Unboxing a New 1980s Amdek Monochrome Monitor


Greetings and welcome to and LGR thing! And this thing is a monitor. It’s in a series of absolute classics from
Amdek. This is the 12-inch video monitor, the video
310A. And this is an amber monochrome PC display. This 300 series was incredibly popular back
then costing around $230 in 1983. The 10 here signifying that it’s a step up
from the normal 300 which is just a composite connection. And the ‘A’ here signifying that it’s
amber and not a green phosphor monochrome display. And yeah, this is brand new in box. Had to grab it as soon as I saw it because
I’ve always wanted one of these monitors in this range. And I’ve just always been quite fond of amber
displays like this. It got the job done and these Amdek displays
were positively ubiquitous in the early to mid 80s. You’d see them on everything from Apple IIs
to Atari 8-bit machines, IBM PCs, all sorts of clones. Especially the 300 series and the Amdek Color-1. I have one of those as well and that doesn’t
actually plug in using CGA or anything like that. It’s not a TTL that actually uses composite. So yeah, I am quite excited to open this up
and hook it up and play with it and stuff, but before we do that I just want to mention
a little bit of about Amdek themselves. Because it turns out the and deck corporation
as a company has a fascinating history, albeit a slightly confusing one. There seem to be two competing origin stories,
one being that Amdek started as a subsidiary of Roland in Osaka, Japan, making computerized
rhythm machines and effects kits. Hence the name AMDEK, which is an acronym
actually, standing for Analogue Music Digital Electronics Kits. But another origin story is that Amdek actually
started in 1978 in Elk Grove, Illinois, selling the computer industry’s first video monitors
for PCs. Amdek definitely existed in both countries
but, if you look up Amdek from Roland’s point of view, they stopped selling monitors
in 1983, rebranding Amdek as the Roland DG Corporation. But if you look up Amdek from the Illinois
company’s point of view, they never stopped selling monitors at all. In fact, newspaper archives show they remained
a privately-held company until being acquired by Wyse Technology in 1986, where they continued
making computer products into early ‘90s. What gives? Well, it seems the truth lies somewhere in
between. Turns out the earliest Amdek company was the
one in Illinois. It’s just that they weren’t called Amdek
in the late ‘70s, they were the Leedex Corporation, where they sold one of the first video displays
designed for PCs, the Video 100. Over in Japan, Roland created their Amdek
brand for music equipment in 1981, and being that their intent was to sell computerized
music peripherals, they also dabbled in disk drives, printers, and displays. Leedex had already been doing similar things
in the USA and they partnered with Roland and took on the Amdek name, with the company
being referred to as Leedex/Amdek as early as June of 1981. By 1982 things started to shift a bit for
Roland’s Amdek with the DXY-100 pen plotter, intended to help computer users print their
own sheet music. And this showed immediate results with Roland’s
core demographic so they spun it off into Roland DG, dropping the Amdek name entirely. But then the former Leedex Corporation just
kept the Amdek name, remaining a private company and continuing to do business as the Amdek
Corporation in North America. Bringing us back around to this Amdek video
monitor which I assume was sold through the former Leedex Corporation in Illinois. Go ahead and open it up and find out. [cutting, slicing] Mmm, yeah there we go. Amdek 12 inch video monitor Model 310/310A. We get a warranty card here. “Amdek’s the new name for Leedex.” And you can see there Elk Grove Village, Illinois. I wonder if they’ll make any mention of Roland
in here, probably not. Got some pretty basic stuff right here shows
you what it is, what it can do, and how to turn it on and off and you know. Don’t put it in a flood. Apparently you needed to use an additional
adapter if you needed to plug it in to 220 volts. Okay, let’s try to get the rest of this thing
out of here. [rustling of packaging] Yeah, that’s it. Just a box with a monitor. Oh man this thing looks awesome already. I just love the aesthetic. More so than the Color-1, I have a couple
of those. And it’s still a classic display, but those
look more like TVs. This looks more like a monitor. Definitely the oldest display that I’ve ever
unboxed. Oh, yeah. That looks awesome! It’s got one of those anti-glare coatings. [rubs against textured coating] Got a “pull on/bright” [clicks] Augh. That’s a satisfying feel and sound. Oh brand new cables [sniff!] Mmm, smells like rubbery plastic stuff. Ah, look at that. Plugs straight into different monochrome boards
that I have. Yeah, I definitely think I want to try this
with a Hercules card. I dig everything about this design even just
the name itself of the company, “Amdek Corporation.” Look at that logo. Check it out, this was made in May of 1988. Quite a high serial number there. Yeah, these things, they just made so many
of them and obviously you can still find them. No doubt there were just warehouses full of
them that either didn’t get sold or were ordered by companies in bulk and then they ended up
not using them, who knows. And we do have some adjustments here, looks
like vertical hold is the only one we can adjust this way. Otherwise, you have to use some screwdrivers
for the alignment and size and the horizontal centering and stuff like that. Good times. Well I am ready to plug this thing in to an
IBM PC and see what we get. Which, ah man. There’s nothing like a piece of new old stock ‘80s hardware like this. Especially monitors. I don’t know what it is, to me they’re almost
more special in some ways than like, the computers themselves. So often the displays were tossed or upgraded
or whatever and then the computers hung around for a little bit longer, and those have become
a little more collectible. But like getting a proper monitor, even a
monochrome like this, which I know were they were sold in massive numbers, and there’s
nothing special about it at all, but… it’s special to me [chuckles] Anyway, let’s go
ahead and try this thing out. Okay, I’ve got that Hercules card installed,
swapped out the EGA one that was in here. Got the monitor plugged into both the back
of the computer’s power supply and the Hercules card itself. And yeah, when you turn on the computer the
monitor will turn on as well, you don’t necessarily need to do this every time. so yeah, let’s just go ahead and do that! [IBM PC AT fans and hard drive whir to life] Ooh. I see orange, hehe. Got the RAM check going on right there and
the display slowly expanding outward as it warms up. So let’s go ahead and try out some software. [chuckles excitedly] This is… I love this already. There’s something instantly amusing to me
about running DOS in amber monochrome. I don’t know. It’s nostalgic. It feels correct. I mean, I like green as well, that is obviously
why I have a green phosphor monochrome introduction for Lazy Game Reviews. That is what that is by the way, it’s from
my IBM 5151 video. Been using it ever since. And I showed some MDA compatible stuff and
Hercules things in that as well, but may as well go over it again because it’s going to
look a little bit different than it did back then. So yeah. Of course, we’re just going to be in text
mode right now and this does support 80 columns, so we’re gonna be able to run 80-column text
mode things. [typing] So this makes sense for text like
this. Any kind of editor that uses text. So just the basic EDIT program, Lotus 1-2-3, or you know anything that’s in this mode is good. So it’s ideal for that, It’s really made for
things running in text/ASCII/ANSI mode. It’s not meant for games. But of course you can play games, such as
Kingdom of Kroz II here. “Is your screen color or monochrome?” It is monochrome. It’s a fast PC, because we have a PC AT. That’s fast. Ah, yes. [beeping, buzzing PC speaker noises] [clicking of keys, chirping of speaker] [chuckling]
So right, it’s an incredibly simple kind of experience, but… it is what it is. But this does have a Hercules card built-in
as well. I mean it does now that I’ve installed it. It’s not built-in, I added it’s just a few
minutes ago. So let’s go ahead and do something in Hercules
mode. One we’ve seen before in the past on my 5151
video was Arkanoid II Revenge of Doh. And this actually allows us to get some graphics
through monochrome. [PC speaker music plays] And that was one
of the lovely things that Hercules mode allowed for: all sorts of extra custom sets–yeah
I’ve talked about it in the past, I’ll probably talk about it again. I really want to do a dedicated video on the
whole Hercules story because it’s wonderful. Neat things can happen with dithering and
a graphics card that actually allows for–how did I miss every single one of those? It’s kind of impressive actually, but you
know. Talking and playing Arkanoid II at the same
time and trying not to say something stupid. Apparently means I can’t catch all the balls,
I can’t catch any of them. Oh my goodness that’s just the worst. Let’s try something else here. I believe we have King’s Quest II on here,
which should also have a monochrome Hercules compatible mode. Yes, we do. [PC speaker music once again] This would have
blown my mind as a kid because what I was used to seeing was just–oh man, that’s really
slow. There we go, that’s a little better. Anyway, I was just used to seeing text mode
only, whether it be at my mom’s workplace on the hotel computers they used to take all
sorts of reservations and stuff, hooked up to it was a terminal kind of situation. Ah and another terminal situation that had
amber that I had quite a bit of experience with as a kid was the local library. And there was, I believe they were Wang terminals. But yeah, so those only did text and I had
no idea that this kind of thing was possible. I knew that Hercules existed because I always
saw it in the setup menus of my games and stuff growing up. I’m like, “whoa what does that mean? Like, that’s a weird name: Hercules?” Like yeah. Now if you were to get some of the other Amdek
monitors that just had composite in that were monochrome or you know–oh ooh. Composite in, of course, you could just plug
into any composite signal in there and it’s gonna come through and it’s gonna turn into
monochrome. This on the other hand is actually rendering
directly through its, you know, TTL and everything and it’s going through that. So you are more limited as to what it’s
gonna output just due to the way that this kind of video chipset works. [typing] What, nothing special? Another one here I have is Test Drive II:
The Duel. Or The Duel: Test Drive II, I always mix those up. And it has a Hercules graphics adapter mode
as well. [PC speaker rocks out] This in particular
I always found quite impressive considering what’s going on. Let’s just race against the clock. I’m a rookie! That is a very loud speaker on this computer. Always is but this song in particular is really loud! All right, here we go. Yeah, I think that’s in focus. Anyway. [loud PC speaker noises continue] Driving in monochrome. Amber monochrome no less. Ah Again, not necessarily impressive on its own. It’s just amusing to me personally because
the only thing I ever saw monochrome in amber doing was text mode so this is like neat and
stuff. LGR: a continual excuse to whip out IBM computers
and do stuff that is objectively underwhelming, but subjectively amazing. Something else I’ve noticed by the fact that
it’s really not there is the lack of any phosphor persistence, ghosting effect or anything like
that. Like there’s all this here and then, it’s
gone. Like, it’s very fast in terms of how quick
it refreshes what’s on the screen and then it just goes away. There’s not a bunch of ghosting garbage like
I’ve seen on, say, my IBM 5151 and it’s quite nice. And so is this anti-glare filter on here. Just only a couple little spots where it looks
like it might have slowly come loose or something, but certainly looks better than a couple of
the monitors I’ve had where a third-party filter has been slapped on top of it. It doesn’t get rid of the glare completely,
as you can see there’s my lighting behind there that is being picked up a bit. But it’s minimized a massive amount. I mean overall this is just a nice monochrome
display. I quite enjoy this so I’m going to continue
to enjoy it because it’s enjoyable. And I don’t know, I feel like playing some
Arkanoid. Anyway, that’s it for this video on this Amdek
monitor, the Video 310A. It’s quite a lovely little thing, I think. And if you thought that this was enjoyable
to take a look at, just a more relaxed video today cuz that’s when I was feeling, then
yeah lemme know. Ah I got the balls that time. And if you did like it perhaps you’d like
to check out some of my other stuff. I do more videos every single week here on
LGR. Twice a week! I don’t know what I’m talking about cuz
I’m playing games. Yeah, thank you very much for watching!

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