This computer was called "Yablotchko" (small apple) by the westerners as this is a poor copy of the Apple II. And to prove that the Agat is really copied on the Apple, the ROM still has Steve Wozniak's name in memory ! Its operating system and ROM are nearly identical to the Apple II's, but instead of a single board, it uses several chip modules.
Agat was produced in a military company based in Moscow called "LEMZ" which stands for "Linozovo (district in Moscow) electronics-mechinical manufacturer". They started producing it in 1985, although prototypes were available in 1984 or probably erlier. Designers of that computer were actually hobbysts and LEMZ picked their design when managers from that company came across Agat designers at an exhibition.
Elorg didn't produce any Agat systems. They were just the exclusive distributer of Russian microelectronics products outside of USSR, and as matter of fact tried to promote Agats in Eastern Europe...
Agat was built first around a multi-chip processor, clone of one of the LSI-11 processors, but then a real MOS6502 was used. The system is composed of three parts : a screen, a keyboard and a central unit. The screen is in fact a real 30cm Secam (russian standard) television, which is connected to the computer through a 1m long cord (DIN9). The keyboard is composed of cyrillic and latin keys (33 keys) plus function keys and a numeric keypad. It uses the layout of the standard Russian typewriter.
There is a built-in 5’’1/4 disk-drive into the right part of the central unit. The operating system is not exactly the same as the Apple OS and it‘s impossible to start an Apple II with this OS nor an Agat with the Apple OS. On the other hand, once the OS is loaded, it’s possible to read the same disk or run the same programs on both systems. But there were some serious incompatibility problems with first models.
There is no way to add a second disk-drive as there is no other connector apart from monitor, keyboard, printer and cassette interface. In the same way, there are no way to expand the original 64k RAM...
The Agat can operate under three graphic modes : low, medium and high, which are compatible with the Apple’s graphic features. The cyrillic characters displayed on the screen are said to have been conceived by the russian engineers with the Apple Tool Kit.
It was principally meant for education and was the object of some important early educational experimentats such as «Schkol'nitza» which took place in a Novosibirsk school. Schkol'nitza, which means schoolgirl in russian, was a system developped to assist the teacher in its classroom. It was composed of several Agat computers and software packages. The teacher, who had a computer, a printer and the disks, could command all the network to ask questions, correct the answers, display maps or what he wanted on the pupils' screens.
It seems like Elorg and the USSR had plans to export the Agat for $17000 ! ! Quite expensive for a bad Apple II clone...
At that time it was impossible for a normal citizen to buy a micro-computer for its own use as all the computers there were for the education, the army, the research or some privileged persons...
The original Agat was followed by several other models, from which the Agat-7 and the Agat-9.
The Agat-7, conceived in 1986, introduced the expansion feature which was the main weakness of the original Agat and had an optional full Apple compatibility card available.
The Agat-9, produced a bit later, was a fully compatible Apple II+ system with real expansion possibilities (6 non-apple compatible slots). It was then possible to find memory expansion cards, serial cards, additional disk-drives and even network cards. In fact the Agat-9 was also compatible with the more exotic Pravetz-8 and Tzyntzy computers.
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I had both Agat-7 and Agat-9 computers. In a reality, photo in this article depicts early experimental model of Agat-4 which, really, was very close to Apple $$+. But both Agat-7 and Agat-9 had a lot of differences from Apples. For example, they used 800K floppy drives with different physical format (but it was possible to install second 144K drive or a pair of them via additional controller card). All of those computers was very easy to repair because they used only low-density chips, especially Agat-7. On the other hand they consumed a lots of energy and was very expansive to buy (really it was almost impossible to buy these computers in shops: all of them was supplied for schools by a government for free, but not for personal use). Several years ago I gave up both of them to a guy who was a fan of Agats. So now I have only a box of empty 5.25" disks :)
Saturday 26th February 2011
I have a question ? how much cost this "computer" today ?
Friday 15th October 2004
Linkman (Slovak republic (SK))
Ahhhh, good old Soviet computers, how much I would like to buy one of these LEMZ Agats.......would the best place to find and buy one at a reasonable price be touring round Russia and the ex-Soviet Union?
Sunday 25th April 2004
Paul (Hull, U.K.)
END OF PRODUCTION
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
BASIC interpreter & assembler
74 keys full-stroke keyboard with 15 function keys and numeric keypad Cyrillic and latin keys
6502 or russian clone
64 KB, 128 KB or 256 KB
32 x 32, 64 x 32
64 x 64 (16 colors), 128 x 128 (8 colors), 256 x 256 (black & white)