ABOUT NOVAG MENTOR 16 MODEL 892 ELECTRONIC CHESS COMPUTER
NOVAG MENTOR 16 Electronic Chess Computer - Picture taken from box.
MAIN NOVAG MENTOR 16 MODEL 892 GAME CHARACTERISTICS
Excerpts taken from the NOVAG Mentor 16 user manual and box.
WHAT IS THE PROCESSOR INSIDE THIS COMPUTER?
As a result of some reported Ron Nelson comments with regards to having to switch to lower cost yet more efficient semiconductors in the 1990’s resulting in a new range of Excalibur Electronics computers launched around that time using Intel 80C50 manufactured by Asian semiconductor companies. The same transformation most likely took place with all the other manufacturers of electronic chess computers, beginning in the late 1980’s.
Novag never advertised the processor used inside many of their computers which made it more of a guessing game of what they actually used. However by indicating in their sales literature the speed, ROM and RAM size, it does allow you to narrow your best estimate down to what kind of processor it may be.
None of the electronic chess computer manufacturers produced volumes that allowed them to specify custom microchips and therefore had to rely on what was easily available for purchase in Hong Kong and China.
Novag in some previous models had used Intel MCS-48 based 80C49 processors so it stands to reason that at the time of Novag Mentor 16 with its dual LCD display, they were probably using the next generation Intel MCS-51 based processor 80C51 manufactured by Asian semiconductor companies.
As it happens while researching data sheets an 80C51 Dual LCD semiconductor existed, and still exists today, manufactured by Philips Semiconductors (nowadays operating as NXP Semixonductors), who at that time was one of the top 10 world manufacturers of semiconductors with production locations in China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand.
This 80C51 Dual LCD semiconductor matches exactly in configurable specifications what Novag had advertised as 8 MHz 8 Bit 16 KB ROM and 256 Byte RAM used in some Novag chess computers as well as 8 KB ROM and 768 Byte RAM which was used in many other Novag chess computers from around 1996 onwards.
To encourage discussion and further research a ? is shown behind the Processor OEM name and Processor in the table descriptions below. Perhaps someone has a broken computer and is willing to open it up and take it apart to check this further. In the meantime please enjoy the information below as a best estimate. The truth probably lies somewhere between 80C49 and 80C51.