Fidelity Travel Master
Fidelity Travel Master  1  20 x 20
Fidelity Travel Master  2  10 x 10
Fidelity Travel Master  3  10 x 10
Fidelity Travel Master  4  10 x 10

I doubt that the Fidelity Travel Master itself is especially rare. Despite only a short period on the market it sold very well. What is rare is to find a Fidelity Travel Master still in full working order  today.

Unusually for a portable chess computer the board is a press sensory type, and therein lies the problem. Connecting the two halves of the board are two fragile ribbon cables which are required to flex when the board is closed. After one flex too many the sensor board stops working properly and with no keypad entry of moves the chess computer cannot be played anymore. The answer, according to those who know more about the Travel Master than I do, is not to fold the chessboard, but to leave it open at all times.

In other respects the TM was a very handy gadget for 1991. A good-sized board with exceptional features for a portable, a strong (1900 Elo) Frans Morsch program and a clear informative display. Way ahead of the competition and at 99, in the UK, a bargain. Chess players could have been forgiven for falling in love with the machine. That is, until it let them down badly.

In actual fact the early Travel Masters were beset with problems. The program contained bugs, one of which exchanged a rook for a pawn in some positions. The flat magnetic pieces had weak magnets and slipped about in transit. Manufacturers CXG went bankrupt and Mephisto/Fidelity had to quickly switch production to another Hong Kong company.

The sensor board problem surfaced a little later. By the time of Selective Search 41 (Aug-Sept 1992) Eric Hallsworth reported that the T-----M----- had become almost a swear word at Countrywide Computers with only a few folk still having models which worked.

Meanwhile within months of the Travel Master release Mephisto/Fidelity’s major competitors Saitek had signed up Frans Morsch and put his latest version of the 16K program in five machines including a peg sensory portable called the Travel Champion 2080 (below). Loss of rights to the program put a seal on the sorry saga, and Travel Champion 2080 effectively took Travel Master’s position in the market place.

 

Fidelity Travel Master  6  20 x 20
Fidelity Travel Master  5  20 x 20
Fidelity Travel Champion 2080  1  15 x 15
Fidelity Travel Master  7  15 x 15
Fidelity Travel Master  8  15 x 15
Fidelity Travel Master  9  15 x 15

The Saitek Travel Champion 2080 which effectively took Travel Master’s place as the strongest portable chess computer of the time.
 

Below left the insides of a Travel Master.
 

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