Scor­pio News

  

January–March 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 1.

Page 36 of 63

No, I’m sorry Mr. Martin, but I don’ agree that the development of the designs was hampered by the lack of use of ULAs or that the prices were particularly high, also extended addressing is available on more recent cards – for what it’s worth. You forget that the Nascom was a specialist machine manufactured in relatively smail volume for a very special market. Its initial success was probably not due to its design but because it was available. Its decline can be directly related to the advent of the poorly communicable, un-tailorable and boring plastic boxes (Sinclair, Acorn, Dragon, et al) which did little for the appreciation of the hardware but were in the main originally intended to sell very clever games software to an unsophisticated market. These machines are all lees tractable than the Nascom and Gemini, but then, they are manufactured to satisfy a superficial need or whim (if you will) for gimickry in our present society and not really to engender an understanding of what actually them tick. I wouldn’t mind betting that 90% of home computers sold over the last four years are now collecting dust in some forgotten corner as the owners have no idea what to do with them apart from playing Space Invaders.

And so on to the MOCSAN, your plea for an unpopulated board for a single board computer to use the original peripherals for Nascom and Gemini and if possible to use the original chip components. 80 column display but otherwise software compatible with the Nascom.

Firstly you speak as if, with the demise of the 80-BUS magazine, all components and future expansion for the Nascom and Gemini through the 80-BUS, will cease to exist. THIS IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT THE CASE. I know full well that you have not attended Gemini dealer meetings, where various people, most notably John Marshall, the MD, have repeated ad nauseam that there is no intention of phasing out the 80-BUS components until well into the nineteen nineties, although work on future products, most notably the development of the 68000 based Challenger series will reduce the design effort devoted to 80-BUS. In fact, it has been hinted, there are some surprising developments forthcoming in 80-BUS products in the near future. (I have no idea what these are, as I consider that all that needs to be available for 80-BUS is already available.)

I would argue that a new board is probably not viable as my close association with the current market suggests entirely contrary conclusions those you cite for the viability of the board.

Firstly, the kit market (for anything, be it computers or single transistor audio pre-amps) is rapidly declining. It is now cheaper to buy a fully working, built item, than to build it yourself. Ok, the built item may not be entirely what you want, but the electronic buying public as a whole are not prepared to pay the money for a kit which does exactly what they want. I know, because my company and many others have tried to revitalize this market, and it’s just not there. Go and ask any retail components supplier. This decline in the kit market obviously affects the price of discreet components, forcing the price spiral upwards whilst depressing the marker it is supposed to generate.

Next to the need for a single board computer itself, there have been several attempts to introduce new single board computers on the home market. Some even fulfilling the major parts of your specifications, and some very reasonably priced. Do you remember the ‘Big Boad’or the Multitech MPF-1? No, the demand for a board computer has declined as the majority no longer want a single board computer without a box. This leaves the board market to the specialise manufacturers who supply to a special market. That market is no longer the home user, it is more likely to be system designers making modest quantities of dedicated machines for special purposes, things like credit card embossing machines, automatic packaging machinery, lamp bulb making machines, etc. The large majority of boards now go in that direction.

Let’s look at the profitability of producing a bare board to a new design. The costs are enormous. The board is unlikely to attract buyers at more than £20.00, yet to design a new machine to supply a potential market of few hundred such boards, the individual board cost is more likely to be three times that. The £20.00 would only just cover the manufacture of the board yet alone the cost of development, drafting, board manufacture set up costs before you

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