August, 1982

In the early 1980s, the British home computer market was booming. New machines were released almost monthly. In August 1982, Dragon Data joined the fray with the Dragon 32; the Dragon 64 followed a year later. The computers sold quite well initially and attracted the interest of several independent software developers, most notably Microdeal. A magazine, Dragon User also began publication shortly after the machine's launch.

In the private home computer market, where games were a significant driver, the Dragon suffered due to its graphical capabilities, which are inferior to other machines such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.[citation needed]

The Dragon is also unable to display lower-case letters easily. Some more sophisticated applications would synthesise them using high-resolution graphics modes (in the same way that user-defined characters would be designed for purely graphical applications such as games). Simpler programs just managed without lower case. This effectively locked it out of the then-blooming educational market.

As a result of these limitations, the Dragon was not a commercial success, and Dragon Data collapsed in June 1984.

Despite the demise of the parent company, Dragons still proved quite popular. They have a robust motherboard in a spacious case, and are much more tolerant of home-modification than many of their contemporaries, which often have their components crammed into the smallest possible space.

 Differences from the CoCo

Both the Dragon and the TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo) are based on a Motorola data sheet design for the MC6883 SAM chip for memory management and peripheral control.

The systems are sufficiently similar that a significant fraction of the compiled software produced for one machine will happily run on the other. Software running via the built-in Basic interpreters also has a high level of compatibility, but only after they are re-tokenized (which can be achieved fairly easily by transferring via cassette tape with appropriate options).

It was possible to permanently convert a CoCo 1/2 into a dragon. It required swapping the original CoCo ROM with and rewiring the keyboard cable.[1]

The Dragon has additional circuitry to make the MC6847 VDG compatible with European 625-line television standards, rather than the US 525-line NTSC standard, and a Centronics parallel printer port not present on the CoCo. Some models were manufactured with NTSC video for the US market.