Teardown: VTech Good Get started

Common readers is also mindful that I’ve a definite affinity for antique VTech instructional toys, particularly ones that tried to visually and even functionally tie in with fresh pc design. Within the overdue Eighties, when it was evident the non-public pc was once right here to stick, those units have been noticed as an reasonably priced option to give youngsters or even younger teenagers hands-on time with one thing that a minimum of relatively resembled the way more dear machines their oldsters have been the usage of.

A lot Smarter: VTech PreComputer 1000

An excellent instance is the PreComputer 1000, launched in 1988. That includes a complete QWERTY keyboard and the facility to run BASIC techniques, it really blurred the road between toy and pc. Actually from a technical perspective it wasn’t a long way got rid of from early desktop computer systems, because it was once powered via the similar Zilog Z80 CPU discovered within the TRS-80 Fashion I.

Via comparability, the Good Get started has extra in commonplace with a desktop digital calculator. Although it was once launched simply two years previous to the PreComputer 1000, you’ll inform at a look that it’s a much more simplistic tool. That’s due a minimum of partially to the truth that it was once geared toward a more youthful target audience, however indisputably the speedy development of pc generation on the time additionally performed an element. Rather mockingly, VTech did nonetheless a minimum of try to make the Good Get started seem like a desktop pc, entire with the pretend disk force at the entrance panel.

In fact, appears can also be deceiving. Whilst the Good Get started appears decidedly juvenile at the outdoor, that doesn’t imply there aren’t a couple of unexpected technical discoveries lurking below its beige plastic external. There’s handiest one option to in finding out.

A Sensitive Matter

At a look the form and ergonomics of the Good Get started make it abundantly transparent that you simply’re meant to put it on a desk and sit down in entrance of it, which frankly turns out overly positive for a tender kid’s toy. Later VTech computer systems had a robust center of attention on portability, in order that even supposing you in the long run wanted a flat floor to in reality perform them, they a minimum of presented a maintain or wearing strap in order that they might be simply moved via a kid.

The SmartStart’s keyboard, if one may really name it that, additionally defies expectancies. The buttons to modify modes, which possibly will be the ones least steadily pressed, are positioned nearest the person. Above the ones are 10 quantity buttons which might be additionally classified with the solfège syllables, as it seems that a minimum of one of the system’s purposes can generate tones. Then we’ve got the large A/B/C/D buttons that I acquire have been utilized by the more than one selection actions featured within the guide that may have got here with the Good Get started, which by the way, I don’t have.


With regards to building, it sounds as if that the keyboard might be repurposed somewhat simply. The graphical overlay might be swapped out, and the conductive carbon strains beneath attached to the GPIO pins of your microcontroller of selection. However so far as enter units pass, it’s lovely depressing to make use of, so stay that during thoughts.

Beneath the Hood

The higher compartment of the Good Get started holds the entire electronics, which on this case is largely a unmarried unit made up of two PCBs. The smaller show PCB is completely affixed to the main board with steel brackets and a particularly brief ribbon cable. Hazarding a bet, I’d consider it was once designed this manner so the show might be positioned in a extra faraway place on different VTech fashions.