It's been a long time coming, but I've finally managed to get hold of a Tatung Einstein Spectrum Emulator, the "Speculator"! I've been looking for one of these ever since I stupidly threw my old one out years ago.
Well, now it's back where it belongs, connected to my Albert, so here is a look at this clever little box in action!
The Speculator comes in a small white box, and retailed at around £49.95 at the time of its release. Located at the side of the box are sound and cassette jack interfaces, for you to connect the device to a tape recorder via 3.5mm jack plugs. The front connection of the box connects to the rear pipe of the Einstein TC01 (It was not designed for use with the Einstein 256 - an oversight on Tatung's part!)
A disk is provided with the Speculator, with twenty Spectrum game loaders contained on it. Using the original spectrum tape in your tape recorder, you are then able to load your selected game into the Einstein, and play it! Games included such classics as Jetpac, Atic Atac, and Way of the Exploding Fist.
The Speculator Disk 1 Menu. 20 Games were available on each disk
Once a spectrum game is loaded into the Einstein, it can then be saved to 3 inch disk, eliminating the need to load the cassette every time you want to play the game. You can save a game by pressing keys 1 and F5 simultaenously, and load a game by pressing 1 and F6.
The box contains a small sound chip which emulates the sounds and music from the spectrum game; the Einstein speaker is not actually used. The box itself was made by Syntaxsoft and looks like this :-
The fabled "Speculator"
Close up of the box and showing it connected to the rear of the Einstein
There were 3 disks made for the speculator - enabling you to play up to 60 different original Spectrum titles. However, "The Speculator Book", developed by Mike Smallman, shows exactly how the Speculator works and how to alter the machine code within the software, allowing you to load games that aren't on the original three disks.
The Speculator book by Mike Smallman - A great piece of writing
Using the Speculator book, I was able to load up the games "180!" and "Way of the Exploding Fist" by altering the machine code within the SP1.COM file located on the Speculator Disk. The results are shown in the pictures below!
180! By Mastertronic. Loading on the Einstein on the left, and hey presto! Playing a Spectrum game on the Einy!
Loading "The Way of the Exploding Fist" on the Einstein
Just loaded Jetpac on the Einstein!
So there you are. There are many more games that can be made to work with the Speculator, but it takes knowledge of machine code (and some help from Mike Smallman's excellent book) to make it happen. Those of you who have followed this site will know how long I have been trying to get hold of this piece of kit.... so it's great to finally be able to show it off in the site!
Overall it was a good attempt to give Einstein owners of the day a chance to play some more games, as at the time Einstein games were pretty thin on the ground. It wasn't really that successful, meaning there are not many Speculators available today.