Collector’s Corner: TK-95 – The Brazilian ZX Spectrum, but better


Last year, when I went to visit family back home, I brought a CP-400 II, a TRS-80 Color Computer clone.

When I went back this year, my objective was to acquire an MSX computer, which in Brazil were represented by the Gradiente Expert and the Sharp HotBit. With that in mind, I started my research, trying to find a good working unit, but while looking at the usual classifieds, like Mercado Livre and Facebook marketplace, I saw an announcement made by Ernani Cioffi, the same guy I had acquired the CP-400 the year before.

He was at first teasing about a TK-95 like no other around and that he would put up for sale on the following day.

I wasn’t interested in getting a ZX Spectrum clone since I was happy with my original Sinclair ZX Spectrum. However, because I am a curious soul, I contacted him, asking about the machine and what it had that would make it so unique.

But before I get into details, you might be wondering what is the TK-95 after all.

History Class

The history of the most successful line of Sinclair clones made in Brazil started in 1981 when Microdigital was founded. Initiated by the brothers Kovari, George e Tomas, the company first product was the TK-80, a Sinclar ZX-80 Clone.

The TK used in all domestic computers manufactured by the company comes from one of the founders’ initials: Tomas Kovari.

Microdigital took off with the TK-82C, the first ZX-81 clone that was widely available on photo and computer stores as well as on big retail stores computer department. It was the TK-82C that I relentlessly glass-shopped for many months and the one I learned how to program. The ZX-81 clones still had a lot to offer, and Microdigital kept betting on the line releasing an updated version in 1982, the TK-83, and in 1983, the TK-85.

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The company version of the ZX Spectrum only came out in 1985 with the release of the successful TK-90X.

When people hear about clones, the first image the comes to mind is a shady small factory working from some dark black alley. Although this might be true in some cases, Microdigital was not. Around the time of the release of the TK-90X, the company had two big manufacturing plants employing more than 400 people!

The TK-95 was the second (and last) ZX Spectrum clone released by Microdigital in 1986. As opposed to its best-selling predecessor, the TK-95 sales were weak, mostly caused because the non-PC domestic market was shifting its interest to the newer and more powerful MSX. Nonetheless, the TK-95 was a much improved Speccy clone, featuring a better keyboard in a Commodore Plus/4 “inspired” case.

Around that time, I was deep into the TRS-80 Color, so I don’t even notice the TK-95 availability at the specialized stores. I had never seen or touched one until 2018!

My TK-95


As I mentioned before, Ernani had teased an improved version of the TK-95 on the Clube do TK Facebook group, and his words presenting it says everything:

Microdigital managed to create a great version of the fantastic ZX Spectrum. However, something was missing. Like Gradiente and Sharp have never released the MSX2 and Prologica has never released the CoCo3, Microdigital also never released the Spectrum 128 clone. At least for the latter, this is now water under the bridge because now we have among us the TK-128 Rolls Royce edition!

The machine was thoroughly modified, following Pavel “Zilogator” Cimbal original project which turned the TK-95 into a vanilla ZX Spectrum 128! Of course, since this is a TK-95, any decent collector want it as authentic as possible. To satisfy this requirement, Ernani added a switch that, when pressed, changes the machine to use the original Microdigital ROM, but keeping 128K of RAM! The best of both words.

Video output was also improved, with clean composite video output and a new RGB output, allowing connecting the machine to any monitor that supports RGB or a VGA LCD that supports 15khz. I am currently shopping for such monitors, like a Syncmaster 710N.

The audio also follows the “Roll Royce” motto, with an AY interface, 2W stereo amplifier, and two JBL speakers. The volume can be controlled using the potentiometer installed directly at the back of the case. I still have the option to use the independent audio output!

I am currently using the TK-95 as my daily retro computer and enjoying everything that it has to offer. With it I can play classic ZX Spectrum games for the first time, sometimes using the luxury 128K version of the game! Also, I’ve been using it to program a game in BASIC for a future project that I will share here on ViTNO.

If you are a purist collector that like unmodified machines, these hardware modifications might set you off; for me, however, it just has the perfect balance offering more without losing the vintage feeling that only an old machine can offer!

Also, as a collector living in Canada, having such a unique machine gives extra pride, moreover knowing that the only similar computer is more than 10,000km away seating in one shelf at Ernani’s apartment!

Author: Paulo Garcia

7 thoughts on “Collector’s Corner: TK-95 – The Brazilian ZX Spectrum, but better

  1. Congratulations, as the owner and fan of the TK line, I see that it has reached far beyond its original land …

  2. Paulo, this is super cool to see and definitely brings back amazing memories! I grew up in Brazil, and was a big CP, TRS, Commodore and ZX Spectrum fan! I also had a clean TK 95 which at the time we started “hacking” based on some discussions with back then penpals in the UK.

    Instead of tape and the 128 cartridge we also hacked in floppy drives, and Atari joysticks, making gaming super fun. i also hacked in a better push button for reboot (was a simple push button that was wired to the board and did an actual reset whenever the computer woudl go into lock mode.

    Funny enough, like you I also had a TRS Color (CP 400) with joysticks and all. I am in Sweden now, and just catching up and looking into emulators. Was fun to see a few years back Netflix show Bandersnatch showing some Spectrum glory too :D

    1. Hi Gui,

      thanks for your kind words! Those were good times. The CP-400 was a great computer and it was the one I use the most to program in BASIC. The joystick was indeed a joke, compared to the even older Atari 2600 one. Funny that I didn’t have many games for the CP400, now that I think about it. I believe I used it mostly for programming! Cheers!

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