Project Alpha

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Project Alpha / Dragon Professional

The Dragon Professional or Project Alpha is an evolution of the Dragon 64. Noticeable differences are the built-in modem, multi-channel AY sound chip and disk interface with two 3.5" drives and the new boot rom with graphical screen for booting to rom based basic (i.e. Dragon 32 mode - but strangely without any Dragon Dos support - to get this you need to use a special boot disk which loads the Dragon Dos rom into ram before starting basic) or straight to OS-9. A number of examples (5 plus 1 motherboard at last count) are known to exist in either early prototype form where the top of the case was effectively hand made and darker in colour and the pre-production form where the top of the case is only slightly darker than the Dragon 64 and is of production quality.

Using its own version of OS-9 (only for the new hardware drivers and a modified disk driver) the Alpha was able to immediately use the existing OS-9 software library. The Dragon Dos boot disk (Dragon Dos 2.F) provided compatibility with the Dragon 32 + Dragon Dos interface and thus a large amount of dragon disk software. Booting straight to basic mirrored the original Dragon 32 and most tape software would load and execute without issue.

The machine also has an updated monitor port, which in addition to the Dragon 64 composite video also appears to have RGB output but this needs to be confirmed.

One more puzzling thing is that there does not appear to be any equivalent Dragon 64 mode in BASIC as there is on the Dragon 64, but there is a fully wired chip socked on the board which *may* have been planned to host the Dragon 64 BASIC IC.

We now know from somebody who visited us at VCF-GB 2010 that in 1984/85 one of the Dragon Professionals sporting the GEC branding was on the GEC stand at the PCW Show where Pam D'Arcy was showing it off.

A few interesting bits of information now put in the Dragon Downloads area.