American vs. Korean CoCo 3
It is well known that over the course of the Color Computer's production, Tandy manufactured CoCos both overseas and in the United States. One of the more interesting comparisons can be made between the American and Korean models of the Tandy Color Computer 3.
The Korean model of the Color Computer 3 was manufactured in Korea between 1986 and 1988. Sometime in 1988, the switch was made to a factory in the United States. Although both models are virtually the same and functionally identical, there are some interesting differences, minor as they are, which may yield clues as to Tandy's decision to move production from overseas to home.
If you are looking at a Korean and American CoCo 3 side by side, at first glance, it's not immediately noticeable that they are different. In fact, without the original packaging and box, they look identical. However, the packaging will give away a CoCo 3's country of origin.
Korean CoCo 3's were shipped to Radio Shack stores in a predominately white box with red lettering and graphics. The picture on the front cover of the box shows the outline of a CoCo 3, and the sides of the box give a summary of features.
The later American CoCo 3 was packaged in a more attractive, sturdier white box with blue and red lettering and graphics. Featured on the front top of the box are two children sitting in front of a CoCo 3, while the sides depict graphics and lettering oriented towards younger computer users.
This more "kid friendly" packaging fit well with Tandy's promotion of the CoCo 3 as a game machine towards the end of its production run in 1988-1989.
As mentioned earlier, the Korean and American CoCo 3 look virtually identical from the outside. However, there are a few minor clues which can tell the two apart without even opening them up.
Upon opening up both CoCo 3's, the differences are more striking internally.
On both models of the CoCo 3, the actual motherboards have identical identification numbers, and appear to be exactly the same. The components, however, are slightly variant.
Other Internal Differences
One glaring difference internally has to do with the area where the keyboard rests on case. The Korean CoCo 3 has two small round black pads on either side of the pegs where the keyboard rests, in addition to a rectangular black rubber "boot" at the bottom of the keyboard for support. The American CoCo 3 has none of these.