INMC 80 News


October–December 1981, Issue 5

Page 17 of 71

The following letter has been received from John Marshall, the founder and ex-Managing Director of Nascom, and now MD of Gemini Microcomputers Ltd.

Dear Editor,

In the 18 months that have elapsed since May 27th 1980, when I was obliged to call in the Receiver to Nascom Microcomputers Ltd., I felt that it was inappropriate for me to make any observations concerning the history of Nascom and subsequent events. Now that the company has been sold to Lucas, and taking into account that a reasonable ‘honeymoon’ period has lapsed, I feel that the time is perhaps appropriate for me to bring into the open certain facts which appear to have been obscured by Nascom’s period of difficulty.

First and foremost I would like your readers to understand that the original Nasbus concept, as perceived by myself and my colleagues, was that given the large volume of sales achieved with both Nascom 1 and 2, it was conceivable that Nasbus could be established as the standard Z80 BUS outside of the US. Unfortunately the Receiver and I did not share the same attitude towards this important issue and eventually we reached a situation whereby it was impossible to use the word ‘Nasbus” without involving ourselves in lengthy and expensive litigation. I therefore proposed that the last (and not very clearly defined) issue of Nasbus should be carefully re-examined, tidied up and republished under the name of 80-BUS. This work was carried out earlier this year.

After the Receiver took over control of Nascom, it became obvious that the sales and marketing effort of the company was to dwindle to virtually zero until such time as the new owner arrived. In the dark months of the autumn and winter of 1980 both I and my fellow distributors concluded that the prospects were steadily becoming less positive for the future of Nascom. In the December of 1980 I took the decision to proceed with the design of a two card system which could, if necessary, although not at the same price, be used as a substitute for Nascom 2 if the Receiver was unsuccessful in his attempts for selling the company as a going concern. As luck would have it the launch of Multiboard and the rescue of Nascom occurred almost simultaneously and whilst initially I must admit I was concerned that this could diminish the sales of Multiboard I subsequently concluded that for the first time the prospective customer would be faced with two real alternatives as far as his prime supplier was concerned.

I have endeavoured to bring to the market products which have long been wanted but which for various reasons had previously proved almost impossible to produce. I do not believe that in any of my actions I can ever have been accused of undermining Nascom. The Gemini 805 disk system answered the extensive call from customers for a low cost disk system. The EPROM Board, EPROM Programmer, subsequent disk card design, the 64K RAM board, Supermun, Hypermum, 80 x 25 display on the IVC, all were responses to demands from the marketplace for Nascom compatible products.

We must now address ourselves to the future. I believe that 1982 is the year in which we can establish the 80-BUS as the de facto standard (please excuse the cliche) Z80 BUS. The Z80 is now the largest selling processor and is, I believe, the base around which a formidable range of product can be built. There are already approx. 20 80-BUS compatible boards available from 7 different manufacturers and the numbers are growing daily. Gemini and the other companies involved in the production of 80-BUS compatible boards will hopefully in 1982 at last manage to produce a system which can surpass the flexibility and range currently offered by S100 based products. In addition to this I believe we have two major advantages:

1. TOTAL COMPATIBILITY. Unlike S100, which seems to conform to a variety of standards, 80-BUS (as published in INMC 80-4) has been clearly defined.

2. COST ADVANTAGE. The cost of producing 80-BUS boards v. S100 boards gives the user a significant saving if adopting the “logical route” i.e. 80-BUS.

Page 17 of 71