D. R. Hunt
THE GOOD NEWS
Nascom have been bought by Lucas Logic at Warwick. Yes, that’s a bit of Joe
Lucas the car parts and aerospace people.
A couple of weeks ago I went up to Warwick wearing my dealer’s hat to a
dealer’s meeting to introduce the new company. We were entertained right royally and
allowed to wander over their operation and put out sticky little paws over some of the
thing they are already doing. The already produce micro based industrial monitoring
equipment. Lots of 8085s in pretty boxes talking to DEC PDP11s with hard disks. The
idea is to monitor machines in a factory, and allow the system to keep a real-time
record of everything that’s going on. That way, if anything goes wrong, or is running
inefficiently it’s possible to back track the past history and see what areas (design,
product materials, management, etc) need attention.
Another thing they are into a big way, is Computer Aided Design. That’s
using a mainframe to emulate the performance of structures and predict design faults,
or make savings through more efficient use of material and all that. They also have a
system for drawing three dimensional shapes and then feeding the data to profiling
machines to make anything from pretty shaped coffee pots to car body panel tools.
These last two prove that Lucas has considerable expertise in software in general and
computer graphics in particular. Perhaps there will be some interesting spinoffs in
I’ve had a chat with Mike Hessey, the technical manager, and he says they
intend to re-enter production of most of the existing Nascom products as soon as
possible (I got the impression that would be fast). My comments in the last Chairman’s
Bit don’t apply, as Lucas Logic already have a design team raring to go, and it
shouldn’t be anything like as long as I predicted before new ideas and goodies start
to appear (although at this stage they’re not letting on what).
Anyway, thanks lads for a fascinating day out and for the the insight into
what you do. The whole outfit was very impressive and seemed most professional.
NOW, WHAT THE HECK DO WE DO??
When I wrote last Chairman’s bit, I think we were all resigned to the odds
on probability that Nascom would be no more by middle of May. Which left this
Newsletter well and truly up a gum tree. You see, during the decline of Nascom’s
fortunes, our membership has declined at much the same rate. Not new members, they are
arriving as usual, but the re-subscription rate has dropped alarmingly, and the new
members gained from the fewer Nascoms being sold have not stopped the decline. The
nett result is that membership is on the slide. When the first news of a purchaser for
Nascom broke, renewals increased with it, but since, down we go again.
Now we recognise there are three reasons for this, although the affect of each
is difficult to judge. Firstly, there is the irregular appearance of this newsletter.
We have always said that there should be six issues a year, but we’ve not yet quite
reached our target. In our defence we will add that it was envisaged that the
newsletter would be about 20 to 30 pages, whereas, the most recent newsletters have
averaged 54 pages, so we reckon you’ve still hat you money’s worth. Also, of late the
main preparers of the newsletter have bee less busy (Speak for yourself! –Ed.) so the
last two issues and this are more or less up to schedule. Secondly, there have been
the ups and downs at Nascom. This has been seen to definitely affect membership.
Lastly, there have been direct sales of the newsletter, in fact the print runs for the
newsletter are bigger that ever, but the majority go to the rotailors. Now our retail
price for the newsletter has been 1.00, and it doesn't take much arithmetic to decide
that an average of, say, four issues a year bought from your retailer will cost you