[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Canon AS-100

July 23rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Canon AS-100 Microcomputer Ad - 1983The good, the bad, and the obscure.

There’s a vast wilderness of little-known business micros that have long been overshadowed by the IBM PC and its brethren in the history books. Seen here is one such machine, the Canon AS-100, which sported an Intel 8088 CPU but was not an IBM PC clone (in other words, it could run MS-DOS, but was not hardware compatible with the PC).

Machines like this one tend to get overlooked historically because they were very expensive (this machine retailed for $3495 in 1983, or about $8,052 today) and they deviated from the emerging business standard of the IBM PC compatible. With those two elements combined, they sold relatively poorly — and, being business-oriented, they also never became notable gaming platforms (enthusiasm for retrogaming brings a lot of attention to certain classic PCs that otherwise might have been forgotten).

Speaking of gaming platforms, the color capabilities of this machine look amazing for 1983. I wonder if anyone ever did write a game for it that took advantage of those high-end graphical specs.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.36 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s the most obscure computer model you’ve ever used? Something that you think no one has ever heard of.

13 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Canon AS-100”

  1. Don Holmberg Says:

    I remember this one. It’s a shame that it isn’t different enough, or popular enough, to get an emulator. I guess if I’d ever want to tinker with one, eBay is my best probability.

    That keyboard looks …interesting… I’m guessing that the numeric keypad also doubles as cursor control?

  2. Damian W. Says:

    I was given an old WANG computer in the late 90’s (monochrome screen monitor and an obsolete external floppy disk drive included). My guess was it was an early 90’s model (equivalent to a 286 I believe) given to me by my uncle who took it from his work office (who threw it out). Never met anyone else that had a WANG computer, can’t blame em really, it may have been fine for an office, but for a teenager, it couldn’t even run Wolfenstein 3D, what use was it to me! By the way Benj, this is my 1st post, been checking this site out for a few months now, its great! Keep up the good work man, you got a new fan!

  3. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks, Damian. I’m glad you like the site.

  4. Justin M. Salvato Says:

    Wow, never seen this before. Aesthetically, it’s interesting looking. Never seen that ad either. Thanks for the Canon post.

  5. Alexander Says:

    The most obscure computer I have ever used was a Science Fair Microcomputer Trainer. It was a 4-bit computer kit that was wired by the user, pre-programmed with games, and had output in the form of 7 LED’s and a single Hex digit. It was remade a few years ago by some Japanese company if I’m not mistaken. However, now its pre-built, and fits into a much smaller package. I’m glad that the design is exactly the same, in terms of architecture, because I can’t read the Japanese manuals, but my old ones from the SFMT still carry over. Great way to learn assembler!

  6. Arttu Says:

    I used to have the Canon AS-100 and wrote a few programs for it too. Even took my first awkward steps in C with it. The high resolution graphics were not exactly optimized for gaming, it was just a single frame buffer. Canon later introduced its bigger brother – AS-300, but then the PC was already becoming a standard.

    Loved the AS-100 and in fact would buy one immediately if someone would sell it.

    The most obscure computer I’ve used however is the Canon TX-25. Resembling more of a desk calculator than a computer, it had a 20 character fluorescent display, small matrix printer (PoS style), and a 3″ diskette. Would buy it also if any existed.

  7. John P. Says:

    At auction today, what would an AS-100 be appraised and/or sell at?

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    John P.,

    I’m not sure. I suspect a complete AS-100 system in good condition could fetch $50-$100 if the right people knew about it. Keep in mind that just because the computer is rare doesn’t mean it is valuable at auction. There are many rare computers that nobody really knows or cares about that sell for just about nothing on eBay. Hope that helps.

  9. Tim B. Says:

    I’ll ask the same question about it’s value today.

    Selling online for $50-$100 is hardly worth the effort to photograph, list and pack it in multiple boxes to haul to a shipper.

    I’ve had one of these systems in the attic for eons and it’s time to pass is along but am hoping, with all due respect, that BE is wrong.

  10. Tim B. Says:

    FWIW, $500 cash through local Craigs including some miscellanea like floppies. Guess it just needs the right person.

  11. Chris Says:

    Hi. I have 2 AS-100’s, one color, one mono. The color model was given to me by a former Canon sales rep who worked out of Lake Success, NY. I still have a number of disks, but demands on my time didn’t allow for archiving them unfortunately. So therefore . . . I need EVERYTHING for this machine, including manuals.
    It is a rare beauty, representative of the motley crew of Japaneses computers that for the most part never made it to the US. Most of them were dual processor (8086 + 68000 or Z80). It’s unusual enough to enjoy a mention as belonging to that group of amazing weirdo machines. Probably the last thing/s I would part with. I’ve trimmed down a lot, but still have a (rather beat up) Mindset, a Northstar Dimension server (80186), a fairly beat up Canon VP-3000 word processor (8088) which I affectionately dubbed the Veep (no software for that either!), and a TI Portable Professional, the worlds first color portable. And a few other miscellaneous pieces. Oh, how could I forget, the Tandy TRS-80 Model 2000.
    If anyone has manuals or software disk, please contact me – rampaginggreenhulk(at)yahoo(dot)com. Much obliged

  12. Simon Templar Says:

    It’s a neat machine. I have/had an opportunity to buy AS-100 and AS-300, but passed them for now (not enough interest). However, I did buy a few of their successor (A-200 series) machines that were available too.

  13. Ron Mileham Says:


    I have a Canon set comprising:

    A-1350 Tower. Serial # 041316.
    AS-100M Monitor. Serial # 142100.
    A-1250 Printer. Serial # 041450.

    All in very good condition. Was working when I got it.

    Any interested parties, give me an indication of worth. Have pics.

    I’m situated in Bayswater 3153 Aus.

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