NorthStar launched this indestructible all-in-one system in 1982.
The Advantage combined the well known (at the time) NorthStar 5.25 floppy disc sub-system with a high-resolution display and a durable keyboard. The Advantage also had it's own bus with it's own set of optional I/O card and a 8088 co-processor card for comparability with the newly released IBM PC software. Sadly, the card was delivered with MS-DOS ver.1 which wasn't compatible with the IBM-PC PC-DOS and very few programs were developed for this OS.
Despite some interesting features - High resolution graphics display, 8 and 16-bit software compatibility - and a proven reliability, the Advantage never really competed with Apple and IBM-PC systems
More information from Jim who worked for NorthStar from 1979: Kentucky Fried Computer (KFC) was the original name of the company in their garage building stage, and was quickly changed to NorthStar when they found commercial potential.
One great feature of the Advantage was that it had an IBM Selectric (as in typewriters) keyboard. Very high quality, and familiar to typists. There was a 16 bit add-in card that ran generic MSDOS 1. The display allowed to run graphic games like Asteroid, and could display foreign character sets. Many were sold outside the US.
It also had networking cards, called NorthNet (I don't remember the protocol) to link many Advantages together, when this was just a dream for IBM.
As you said, it came out about the time of the IBM PC, which pretty much killed it, mostly because people didn't understand the technology.
T. N French adds:
Early versions of NorthNet were SNA None Return to Zero Inverted (NRZI). Netbios came along. NorthStar also developed an add-on that ran PC-DOS.
The hard sectored drives were notorious for getting out of alignment. I think that is what really killed the system (PC-DOS and IBM didn't help)
I was working for GBC at the time and we re-badged the product line (Advantage = System 9 and Horizon = System 12).
Hard disks were available with 5, 10 and 30 Mb runnig MFM.
I have just picked up a Northstar Advantage, with quite a lot of software and manuals. However, the floppy does not read and the screen died on me after 20 minutes.
I would like to purchase a system off anyone who is offering and am prepared to pay a reasonable price, including shipping etc.
Please contact me. Thanks!
Monday 29th May 2017
Ian Mak (London, UK)
I also have an original Advantage, that I used at work for NorthStar in the 80''s until they went under. If anyone is interested, it too is for sale. I have all the manuals, floppy disks, and it still runs very well!
Tuesday 22nd November 2016
Pamela Jacobson (94501)
In the past few years this appeared in Old Spice''s MANta Claus commercials on YouTube, with the badge covered and fake screen overlays. It seems to have escaped notice, but pretty cool to see it on the small screen anyhow!
Monday 16th June 2014
ian Butler (USA)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Full-stroke 79 keys with function keys and numeric keypad
Z80 or 8088
3.5 Mhz. (Z80)
8084 for display and disk management
64 KB expandable to 256 KB
32 KB - 20 KB actually used - Extra 12 KB was reserved for