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