When the Nimbus PC series was launched, Research Machines already had a long history of providing innovative and reliable computers for the British education market.
The Nimbus PC was also intended to support schools in the use of the computers. It wasn't a pale copy of a standard PC but a fast and versatile DOS machine entirely designed and manufactured by RM.
The basic machine held 192 KB of RAM, a single 720 KB floppy drive and extended sound and graphics. It could be expanded to 1 MB of RAM, dual floppy drives and up to 160 MB hard disk. The Nimbus was also designed as a network station and came with built-in Piconet and ethernet ports.
The Nimbus ran a modified version of Microsoft MS-DOS 3.10 that could not run on a standard PC. Sadly, this was quite a limitation. Although an IBM emulator software allowed some standard PC programs to run, only software specifically written for the Nimbus was able to take advantage of the improved sound and graphic features. However, RM and third-parties released numerous languages and educational software that fulfilled most school needs.
A special x86 version of BBC Basic also allowed a wide range of programs written for Acorn machines to be run. To note also that some Nimbus software would run on a standard PC, for example the Nimbus versions MS Word and Multiplan.
Special thanks to Margaret Wainwright and Peter Russell who donated us this computer !
The Nimbus is backwardly compatible with the 280z,380z and 480z. This means that the entire and then widely available(in education circles) backcatalogue of software written in RM basic is/was open to nimbus users. That means literally thousands of titles across hundreds of subjects, most written by teachers and pupils themselves to aid them with their course work. My mom borrowed a nimbus in the line of duty just prior to launch. We were able to enjoy it''s incredible functionality, including the earliest available MS Windows operating system. and of course Acorn had their noses put out of joint because the nimbus could run BBC basic software: something that their own electron struggled with and Archimedes could not do at all at the time. Here at last was an affordable, £800 personal computer which could be used at home, in the office and in schools. It could be used for the all the stuff adults wanted including helping the kids with their homework: Anything written in anything up to RM or BBC basic would work on a Nimbus PC. Again, RM missed the boat. I used to sell computers. Customers would tell me they wanted a computer to help the kids with their homework. If their school had BBC micros or zx spectrums I could help. If they had RM equipment i was at a loss to help, other than to suggest they get a friend in education to get them RM or to go and work for RM so they could borrow RM equipment,
Thursday 19th February 2015
adrian (United Kingdom)
END OF PRODUCTION
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
RM Basic diskette
PC like with 10 function keys and numeric keypad
Socket for a 80187 math coprocessor
192 KB, up to 1 MB
40 or 80 columns x 25 lines
320 x 250 (16 colours), 640 x 350 (4 colours)
3 voices, 8 octaves + white noise (AY-8910 chip)
Mono and colour monitor, Serial, Mouse/Joystick, Serial/Piconet port
BUILT IN MEDIA
1 or 2 720 KB 3.5'' floppy drives - optional 10 or 20 MB hard disk