Tatung Einstein

Merlin Software were given an exclusive licence to convert Elite for use on the Tatung Einstein home computer.

It's Not a Bootleg!

Although this was an official licenced conversion, the packaging could easily mislead one to believe that they had bought a pirated copy as the box was in fact a re-labelled Spectrum 48K box. Merlin Software had stickers affixed over the Spectrum 48k names on the front of the box and the side of the box. The barcode was left unchanged. 

Box Front 300dpi

Above: The Einstein version had a sticker affixed over the Spectrum 48k identifier.

Inside the box the obvious links to Spectrum 48k version were abundantly evident. The Space Traders Flight Training Manual was the Spectrum 48k manual with a list of errata included noting the Tatung Einstein specifics, including Einstein version loading instructions. So too, the Quick Key Control Guide was from the Spectrum 48k and included a sticker alongside the Firebird logo detailing the key changes compared to the Spectrum 48k version.

Quick Key Control Guide 300dpi

Above: Quick Key Control Guide showing Einstein changes to Spectrum key functions.

Loading Instructions 300dpi

Above: The Einstein version loading instructions included a warning to be heeded!

The Tatung Einstein used a 3 inch floppy disk similar to the Amstrad CPC version. In this case however, rather than the proper Firebird label of the Amstrad disk, the Einstein version was simply a generic Merlin Software label affixed over the original blank disk logo.

The name 'Elite' and a product code '40594' were printed onto the A-side of the disk label and the 'spine' of the disk label by a dot matrix printer prior to being affixed to the disk.

Disk Side A 300dpi

Above: The name 'ELITE' and the product code were printed onto a generic label and affixed to the disk. The original label can be seen underneath.

Copy Protection

The software has a very strong copy protection and to date no one has been able to produce an emulator version. The only way to play this version is to use an original Tatung Einstein home computer along with the Tatung Einstein Elite disk. The only problem being that this version is one of the rarest versions to obtain, and as such when it does become available for sale prices can reach over £100 on some auction sites.

There are a number of reports where a disk image that has been circulating the internet cannot be played on an emulator, however once the image is restored to a 3 inch disk, a genuine Tatung Einstein will play it with no problems.

Gameplay

Although rare, this conversion was regarded as being one of the poorer ones. One of the oft cited problems with this version is that ships do not explode once destroyed, instead they simply disappear. 

Another missing 'feature' revolves around the Galcop vipers normally located at many space stations. In most conversions an attack on a space station will result in a regular series of Viper police vessels launching to defend the station. In the Einstein version the player can sit firing at the station without upsetting the authorities.

The Tatung Einstein Computer

Tatung_Einstein_System_2[1]

Above: The Tatung Einstein Computer (1)

The Tatung Einstein is an 8-bit home computer designed and manufactured in England. The Tatung company itself was based out of Taiwan. Aimed primarily at the business sector, the Tatung Einstein was released during the summer of 1984 and comprised a base-unit with built in keyboard, and either a colour or monochrome monitor atop the base. Unusual for its time when most home computers used tape storage, it had the option of a single or dual 3 inch disk drive. The Einstein never really took off as either a business or home computer and only a handful of games were produced for it, including of course Elite.

Sources
(1) http://old-school-micro.blogspot.com.au/2009/11/retro-computers-tatung-einstein-retro.html