The computer world is filled with all sorts of machines that are opretty obscure, and even there the Canon Cat is obscure; they say it’s the creation of Jef Raskin, who started the Macintosh program before Steve Jobs jumped in and took it over. Instead, it’s all about text. But I seem to have been potentially shipped the wrong machine… So, on this April 1st, let’s dig in, shall we?
Look at him!
This cat has a really nice black and white paint scheme; I’m going to assume this is aftermarket, as all the photos I see online are beige. (This may also be a clone, as I don’t see any Canon logos) One thing that’s pretty clear here is that this cat is fully tricked out with audiovisual sensors, and even a primitive security system made of pointy claws. Ouch!
I said paint above, but the texture is really soft here. I doubt it’s paint; I’m not sure what it could be. Let me know in the comments (which definitely exist); at the very least, it seems like no retrobright is necessary; which is good, as I can’t get the cat to go anywhere near large tubs of water; that security system keeps going off.
One really impressive thing I hadn’t seen in articles about the cat was that he’s interoperable with all sorts of great machines from the time period. Here you can see him attached to my Timex Sinclair 2068. (Not sure why I keep referring to the Cat as “him”, just seems right somehow)
Unfortunately, this only goes so far. It looks like there is a compatibility issue with the Tandy Color Computer; a bit surprising considering how well it did in the Nicole Simulator. Speaking of the Nicole Simulator, I wanted to run that benchmark here, but the Cat doesn’t come with any sort of onboard BASIC; but I can definitely confirm he’s capable of putting out plenty of nyas.
Powering the cat
One thing really impressive about the cat is the dedication to low-power consumption. The cat will spend most of its time in sleep mode without even being turned off (there’s no power switch at all, which made me concerned). However, it can be a bit hard to wake him up, so that’s definitely a downside here.
As for power, this particular cat seems to be designed to not need an external power supply; instead he uses these small pellet-shaped organic batteries, that you put out and the cat installs itself. When it works it works great, but the cat often doesn’t seem to understand and acts like the pellets aren’t present. Very odd; probably one of the reasons that it wasn’t a very successful computer.
One of the things I found really confusing was the lack of any external ports at all. The only cable I see is this strange single-conductor black one, covered in the same soft material. Given the Cat’s emphasis on word processing, I’d guess this is a printer port of some sort, but it doesn’t seem to support any printers I have. Instead, messing with it just activates that security system I mentioned above.
By now I hope you realized that I don’t have a Canon Cat, just a furry cat. Special thanks to my cat Dexter for playing along.
Come on, you think I could really get two articles out in two days?