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MO 5

The MO-5 was presented alongside the TO 7/70, in march 1984. While the TO-7/70 follows and enhances the TO-7 philosophy, the MO-5 is more a cut-down version of the TO-7/70. The idea was to design a coherent french home computer, able to compete with such systems as the ZX Spectrum or the Commodore 64.

The case of the MO-5 is elegant with its anthracit colour and pleasant lines. The keyboard, though made of rubber keys, is an improvement over the flat membrane keyboard of the TO-7. Most BASIC statements are engraved onto the keys and can be directly entered by pressing a special BASIC key and the key matching the desire statement. But the Basic commands can also be typed in letter by letter. The keyboard layout is AZERTY which is normal as the MO-5 is a french system. Accentuated letters can directly be accessed by pressing the ACC key, followed by the desired key (6 for é, 7 for è, 8 for ù, 9 for ç and 0 for à). There are also four arrow keys, INS to insert a space, EFF to delete the pointed character, STOP to pause a program, CNT to resume a program stoped and RAZ (remise à zéro) to clear the screen.

The cartridge slot is different from the TO-7 and TO-7/70 one. Thus, MEMO7 cartridges cannot be used. The cartridges of the MO-5 are called MEMO5. Next to the cartridge slot is a RESET (software) button. When pressed it re-initiates the computer without clearing the RAM. Thus, programs in memory are not lost.

As opposed to the TO-7/70, the MO-5 is very compact in many ways. One of the drawbacks is that there is only one expansion connector. You cannot connect the Game expansion AND a printer, or a disk-drive AND a printer, etc. When you get the computer, you've got the system itself and nothing more. Everything else is optional : tape recorder, light-pen, joystick expansion, etc. This is mainly the reason why the MO-5 was not too expensive compared to the other Thomson systems.

Hopefully, the Microsoft Basic 1.0 (Level 5), is built-in ROM (it is not the case with the TO-7/70). This Basic version developped specially for Thomson is quite excellent, with many interesting functions and statements. In fact it is the same found on the TO-7 and TO-7/70 with only some minor changes (the MO5 version lacks DEF USR statement, and double-precision numbers).

The light-pen introduced on the TO-7 has been improved on the MO-5 and TO-7/70. While its resolution was only 40x25 on the TO-7, it can now access every point of the screen, that is to say 320 x 200 pixels.

But a strange feature is that the tape format of the MO-5 is not compatible with the TO-7 & TO-7/70 one. Tapes saved with a TO system can not be loaded with a MO-5. And games sold for the TO computers could not be directly used by a MO-5. As a result, most games were sold with the program saved in TO-7 format on one side, and in MO-5 format on the other side.

So, to clarify everything, the main differences between the MO5 and TO-7/70 are:

- Built-in Basic for the MO5, only available on cartridge for the TO-7/70
- Memo5 cartridge slot is different from the Memo7 one
- only one expansion port on the MO5, four (including memory expansion) on the TO-7/70
- different tape format,
- slightly different Basic versions (MO5 lacks DEF USR statement and double-precision numbers)
- colours are coded differently internaly,
- MO5 lacks special "Minitel" videotext characters,
- the lightpen is only optional for the MO5,
- ROMs and memory addresses are different

Though this looks like a lot of differences, both systems are in fact very close in terms of possibilities, features and performances. The MO5 in its conception can be seen as a compact TO-7/70 targeted specificaly for the home-computer / initiation market.

The MO-5 was very popular in schools, as Thomson was the main supplier of the French National Education for the "Informatique Pour Tous" Plan. MO-5 were mainly used as terminals for the famous "Nanoréseau", an educational network, often piloted by a Logabax Persona 1600. A special version called MO-5 NR (for NanoRéseau) was even developed some times later.

The MO-5E (E for Exportation) is a MO-5 version specially developped for foreign markets. It has a proper full-stroke keyboard, a different case, two joystick connectors and several video outputs. It did not have much success... The MO-5 itself was replaced in France by a second version which was only different by its full-stroke keyboard (see "More pictures section"). In 1986, the MO-5 was replaced with the MO 6.


The 16 colors of the MO5


These circles reveal the color proximity conflicts

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