Scor­pio News


October–December 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 4.

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Dealer Profile – Kenilworth Computers

Kenilworth Computers Limited started life in the computer retailing market as Business & Leisure Microcomputers in October 1979.

David Scarle served his time as on apprentice with The Rover Company Limited, as a Mechanical Engineer and became involved in computing by mistake &don’we all!) about nineteen years ago. He was involved in Project Management at Rover and required a network analysis program. In the absence of anything suitable he had to design and install his own, which proved highly successful.

After the Rover Co. became British Leyland (or was it Rover Triumph?) – the name changes came thick and fast) the whole structure of management altered and he found that he was being paid more and more for doing less and less which is fine for a time, but boredom and frustration rapidly take their toll.

David took voluntary redundancy and invested that and the proceeds from the sale of his house in a motel and pub in the middle of Wales backing onto the River Wye. Idyllic setting, but after you have installed all mod. cons. for the guests and perfected the art of keeping real ale, the old grey cells are apt to wither or even worse drown in alcohol!

So to stimulate the grey matter he purchased a Nascom 1 kit and was excited when he discovered that this primitive looking microcomputer had as much processor power as the IBM machine that started his computer career. It must have been the first pub in Whales, or possibly anywhere in the U.K., to have a computer board and keyboard, unboxed, sitting in the back bar with games running from tape to entertain the locals. The locals loved it, and not too much beer got split over it – and in any case the Nascom did not seem to mind!

However, after three and a half years of slave labour in the business, his wife Sue decided she had had enough. That, combined the possibilities for starting a computing business, based on Nascom 1 kits, and the need, for family reasons, to return to his home town of Kenilworth, lead to the setting up of Business and Leisure Microcomputers’ shop on the main street in Kenilworth in October 1979.

What exciting days those were, with Nascom 1 then 2 kits being purchased in hundreds for a myriad of different applications by one man bands or giants like GEC, British Telecom, Plessey, etc. Then came the avalanche of cheap home computers, starting with Sinclair, and B& L Micros found themselves being used as a information bureau, with customers gleaning all the knowledge needed to make their choice of home computer to purchases from one of the multiple giants whose prices were ridiculous.

By early 1982 David was intrigued with the possibility of producing portable computer, a full featured machine in a briefcase (some people mischievously suggested a suitcase was more appropriate) and a prototype was constructed. It was on display at Compec ’82, the same year that prototype Osborne Portable was shown.

Shortly after this, David was invited down to London to meet Adam Osborne with a view to becoming a dealer for his portable. For various reasons, mostly to do with non-standard screen and inadequate disk size, be decided not to take on dealership, but to purse more vigorously his own design of portable, which by this time had changed to the present upright shape. Sadly, although the project came to fruition, it was so bugged with manufacturing quality problems of the case, which delayed its introduction, that it missed its slot in the market. Nevertheless a goodly quantity of Kenilworth Portables have bean sold.

As B & L Micros gradually turned their back on the home and hobbyist and of the market and started to concentrate more and more on specialist and educational applications, it seemed that office accommodation would suit the style business much better then a shop front. Also they needed to drop the Leisure from the B & L title, therefore what better than to absorb B & L into the newly formed Kenilworth Computers Ltd, set up to produce the portable.

During the past eight years the business has taken on various dealerships including Commodore, Comart, Sinclair, Dragon, but has been consistently faithful to Nascom and Gemini 80-BUS systems.

In fact, serious thought was given, at the time of Nascom’s initial demise as to the viability of purchasing the business. But when Lucas stepped in KCL felt that Lucas had considerably more

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