Aquarius (NTSC)
Aquarius (NTSC)



Setname:  aquarius   
Year: 1983
Manufacturer: Mattel
Status: good  works
Type: Home Computer
Emulation info
Overall emulation:  good   
Color emulation:  good  
Sound emulation:  good  
Graphics emulation:  good  
Savestates:  unsupported   

Tech info
Z80 ("maincpu")cpu 3579545 Hz
Speaker ("mono")audio
Filtered 1-bit DAC ("speaker")audio
AY-3-8910A ("ay8910")audio 1789772 Hz
Screen ("screen")raster horizontal 320 x 200 @ 60.000000
Media devices
cassette ("cassette") cassette cass wav
cartridge ("cartslot") cartridge cart bin
BIOS options
rev1 Revision 1
rev2 Revision 2
RAM options
4K 4096
8K 8192
20K 20480
36K 36864
Software lists

Romset info
ROM NameSizeCRC32SHA1Dump StateBIOS option
aq2.u52048 e117f57c3588c0267c67dfbbda615bcf8dc3d3a5c5bd815agood
aq1.u28192 nodumprev1
aq2.u28192 a2d15bcfca6ef55e9ead41453efbf5062d6a60285e9661a6goodrev2


* CPU: Zilog Z80A 3.5 MHz
* RAM: 4 KB (up to 32 KB), 1,7 KB free for user
* ROM: 8 KB
* Text Modes: 40 chars x 25 lines
* Graphic Modes: 80 x 72 / 320 x 192 dots
* Colors: 16
* Sound: 1 voice (3 voices with the Mini-Expander)
* I/O Ports: Tape, Printer, Bus
* Keyboard: Rubber type. 49 keys
* Built In Language: Specific Microsoft Basic interpreter
* Peripherls: Thermic printer and plotter (1200 bauds), Tape-recorder (600 bauds), Mini-expander addon, RAM expansions (4 KB, 16 KB and 32 KB), Master expansion module & disk-drives (vaporware), Home Computer System


MESS supports aquarius emulation with a "cartridge" (cart) device, for cart dump in .bin format, a "cassette" (cass) device, for tape images in .wav format, and a "floppydisk" (flop) device, for disk images in .dsk format.

Also notice that the "printer" (prin) is emulated as well.


From within the emulation, there are several BASIC command keyboard shortcuts available by pressing control and another key.

COPY Ctrl[9]
DATA Ctrl[F]
DIM Ctrl[E]
FOR Ctrl[-]
GOSUB Ctrl[7]
GOTO Ctrl[5]
IF Ctrl[3]
LEFT$ Ctrl[V]
LIST Ctrl[2]
MID$ Ctrl[B]
NEXT Ctrl[=]
ON Ctrl[6]
PEEK Ctrl[;]
POKE Ctrl[']
PSET Ctrl[J]
READ Ctrl[D]
REM Ctrl[W]
RIGHT$ Ctrl[N]
RETURN Ctrl[8]
RUN Ctrl[1]
STR$ Ctrl[,]
THEN Ctrl[4]
VAL Ctrl[.]

To break/stop a program, press Ctrl[C]
To interrupt the LISTing of a program, press Ctrl[S]
To repeat the entire last line you typed, press Ctrl[R]
To get the machine to beep, press Ctrl[G]


This system requires full keyboard emulation to work correctly. At startup, full keyboard emulation mode is enabled by default. Whilst in full keyboard emulation mode, some key associated functionality may be disabled (like the ESC key for EXIT). The keyboard emulation mode is toggled using the "Scroll Lock" key (by default).

Original Keyboard: QWERTY rubber keyboard, 49 keys

RST 1! 2" 3# 4$ 5% 6& 7' 8( 9) 0? -_ =+

CTL Q W E R T Y U I O P /^ <-`

SHIFT A S D F G H J K L ;@ :*


Note that the BASIC shortcuts listed above were also written above each key, to easier remember the correspondent commands.

Also, notice that by default SPACE is mapped to "Left Shift" key and RTN is mapped to "/" key, to accurately reproduce the locations on the original keyboard. If you feel uncomfortable with this mapping, you can remap them (//TAB->Input (This System)//) or use the -natural emulation of the keyboard.

RAM options

Different RAM configurations are possible for the aquarius in MESS. You can switch between them, changing the -ramsize parameter. At command line, you simply have to add ''-ramsize ram_value'', where //ram_value// can assume one of the following values

4k (default)

Known Issues

Floppy disc support is only preliminary and it doesn't work at the moment.

History and Trivia

The Aquarius was Mattel Electronics' (a division of a huge US toy manufacturer) attempt at entering the home computer market. It was a commercial failure, and was frequently found in bargain bins in toy stores for many years following.

When the Intellivision Keyboard Component project was canceled, Mattel searched in a hurry to produce a small and cheap computer. They contacted Radofin Electronics Far East, based in Honk-Kong, who was manufacturing most of the Intellivision products. Radofin had just
developped a line of three Z80 based computers. Mattel decided to sell the two first under their brand. The Aquarius 1 and 2 were born.

The Mattel Aquarius used a special version of the Microsoft Basic. When used with Basic, only 1.7 KB remained available.

There were no redefinable characters, but 256 predefined chars were available: 128 ASCII (numerals, upper and lower case alphabet, punctuation, symbols) and 128 graphic patterns. That was the only "graphical" features of the Aquarius !

Unfortunately the specifications were so poor for a 1983 computer, that the Aquarius 1 litteraly bombed. Three months after its release, Mattel decided to cancel the project and to sell back the rights and stocks to Radofin.

Radofin continued to sell Aquarius 1 & 2 under its own name, but without success...

Cool add-ons were developed for the Aquarius, but never made it to the shelves (apparently). There were a Master Expansion Module equipped with disk-drives and expansion slots for future add-ons. It even offered the CP/M compatibility!

Another sympathetic extension was the Home Computer System Command Console which allowed the Aquarius to directly control up to 255 electric devices. But when the computer was connected to this extension, it couldn't be used for anything else!

There were also a Modem planned and Mattel even announced network services for games and programs downloads...

(info from


* Blue Sky Rangers' site --
* Mattel Aquarius homecomputer --
* Mattel Aquarius at --

Other Emulators

* AqEmu --
* Virtual Aquarius --

Edit the History info for this game.


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