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ScuzzBlog: Diaries June 2018

Entry 8th June 2018: Post 2: O R I C

O R I C - The very red and black Oric Atmos

In the days of membrane and chiclet style keyboards to save the
production costs and compete with the vast multitude of home
computers released in the early 1980s there came the ORIC-1.
I swear you can stick half a dozen of the various machines of
the day with the flashing cursor together and you would hardly
tell the difference other than the annoyance of the keyboard.
The ZX81 has to take first prize for being the worst and sorry
but the ORIC-1 is a close second. So should we have been surprised
that when the ORIC Atmos was released it gave way to a proper
keyboard. So pleased were they of the difference they emphasised
the change with a red hot machine en-blazoned with red and jet
black keys.

And did the change make any difference. Not really. Dull as soup.
I know that will upset ORIC fans but with so little going on
with this computer it hardly was going to break any massive new
ground. The limitations are clear from the size and available
ports. For me it just feels so wrong.. and yet it could have
been way more than the finished item.

And it is not because it was lacking in features. Quite the opposite.
Much of the inner hardware was superior to many of its competitors
and could have taken the home computer world by storm had the
ORIC-1 been marketed and supported effectively. To compare this
computer with an Electron or C64C is a difficult ask because those
units had their historical base squared and the support via
peripherals well understood. The Atmos doesn't even look like
a computer you could readily expand and no doubt when users looked
at what was available for the computer they would look on in envy
at the plethora of kit and software for say the C64 or Spectrum.

To have been successful in the day it really needed a keen eye on
where the market was going. I'm certainly not going to use Sinclair
as a guide cus I think even their strategy was flawed. But when you
look at Commodore, Atari and Acorn say there really was a heavy
emphasis on expandability. I may be wrong but I believe ORIC holds
the record for the greatest number of power supplies and connectors
for the modest expansions they created.

Anyway that said .. evidently very successful in France where it
enjoyed quite a reasonable user base.

The original machine was dogged with error checking bugs sadly
resulting in user created programs to fail. Sadly this was not
addressed with the Atmos or only partly.

ORIC ATMOS made in the UK 1984
Uses Tangerine BASIC made by Microsoft
Has the QWERTY mechanical keyboard
The CPU is the 6502A running at 1 MHz
RAM is 16 KB or 48 KB with ROM at 16 KB.

I have two of these in boxes and one is what you would call mint.
So rather than crack open a relatively unused computer I decided
to open the one in the tatty box. That way I wasn't so hung up
over switching the computer on. What a surprise... she worked.


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Last updated 08/06/2018

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