Scor­pio News


April–June 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 2.

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Dealer Profile – Arctic Computers

[Ed. – This issue Brian Wingfield, M.D. of Arctic Computers in Wetherby, writes about when, where, why and how he’got involved with 80-BUS equipment.]

Arctic Computers. Who?

Yes, who are these people Arctic Computers who claim over 6 years of 80-BUS experience?

Well it all started back in late 1979 when I was looking for a way of sequencing an analogue music synthesizer and I happened across an advert for a Nascom 1. The beast was ordered and after the customary long wait (while it was designed I think), a box of bits arrived with a promise that the power supply would be along soon (still to be designed?). Well the kit was built and a home brew PSU fabricated. Guess what? It didn’t work. After many hours of fiddling with my first computer, I decided that the problem must be in the EPROM (NASBUG T1 in a 2708). So a test rig was made to single step the EPROM and monitor the data lines with LEDS. After the first three bytes, which were FF FF FF, I twigged that the EPROM was empty. It was promptly sent back to Nascom, where some weeks later during one of my begging phone calls I first spoke to the Editor of this very publication, the Lest sign of intelligence at Nascom. Within a couple of days my Nascom was alive. By this time I had forgotten the real purpose for buying the beast, and who cares I was hooked anyway.

Having realised that the Nascom 1 could be improved a friend and I set out to design add-ons. Amateurish they were but members of a local computer club, of which I was a founder, wanted to buy them. So from these small beginnings a decision was made to go live, and the name BITS & P.C.s was born. Adverts were placed in various publications and we were overwhelmed with demand. At this stage it seemed like a good idea to become a Nascom dealer and I was very flattered when I was accepted as such, when working from my lounge at home. In reality anyone buying produce in quantity with cash up front would have been accepted.

During this period I was working full time for the P.O. and my wife was running the operation from home. Nascom’s big boss John Marshall had been given the Special faults number at the telephone exchange where I worked in case of needing to contact me urgently. Either by design of by accident this number was published in the Nascom national advertising which led to rather a lot of representment.

In March 1980 the company became BITS & P.C.s Computer Products Ltd. and I resigned from the P.O. We also moved into a quaint little shop in Wetherby, which meant that we were able to have most of the house back as living accommodation.

Our next few years saw us playing computer retailers snakes and ladders along with all the others. We fared better than most due to our policy of designing our own add-ons for various types of computers including Nascom, Sharp, Epson, Superbrain, and Gemini. This gave us a strong reputation among both customers and suppliers.

By 1983 we had moved into our second set of premises in Leeds City centre and the computer retail side was getting very tough. One thing was were not willing to do was sell at silly discounted prices because we wanted to five good customer support and a level of profit was required to maintain this. The company was at this stage consolidated in Leeds and was known as the LEEDS COMPUTER CENTRE. One of the biggest annoyances at this time was that Joe Public was buying from Bloggs Discount and was then pestering my staff for their expertise in getting his system running.

In January 1984 at a directors meeting the current decline in profitable business in Leeds city was discussed. The company was keeping alive thanks to a hard core of Gemini enthusiasts end thanks to a number of major OEM customers

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