The Advance 86 was an early IBM PC compatible system conceived by Advance Technology (UK) and built by Ferranti (well known for its military products, and the ZX-81custom chip).
It was intended to appeal to the home user and to small businesses. It had the same features as the IBM PC (360 KB disks, identical graphic resolution) but had a different CPU, the 8086 which was a true 16-bit processor, for a much lower price !
The Advance 86 was totally IBM PC compatible, from the keyboard, the disks, the resolution, to the expansions which could be used with the Advance through four IBM-compatible slots.
In fact, the Advance 86 was first conceived as a home-computer (model 86A) and was later upgraded with a ''new box'' housing the two disk-drives, the expansion slots and thus the IBM compatibility features (model 86B). This is why the model 86B is composed of two main cases, the smallest one being the original one (86A) which houses the main board and has a wide trap-door to store the keyboard when not in use.
Back in 1984, the Advance 86 was one of the few professional systems to work without any fan thanks to its dual power supply unit, making work more pleasant. However, a fan was later added into the lower case.
The Advance 86B was sold with four professional software packages: Perfect Writer, Perfect Speller, Perfect Calc and Perfect File. This bundle had everything a new user needed to start, and it was great value as it all came free with the computer !
A 10 MB hard-disk was quickly sold in option, as the disks had a low capacity (360k), like the IBM PC.
A kit form was also available at a reduced price for self build.
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
GW Basic on disk
Full-stroke keyboard with 10 function keys and numeric keypad, 84 keys Quite similar to the IBM PC keyboard
128k, up to 256k
40 x 25, 80 x 25
320 x 200, 640 x 200
4 expansion slots (IBM compatible), 2 x 16-bit slots, monitor (composite) and TV video outputs, RS232, Centronics, Joysticks, cassette interface, lightpen
BUILT IN MEDIA
2 x 5''1/4 disk-drives (360k each)
10Mb hard-disk, RAM expansion boards
86A : £399 (UK, july 84) 86B : £1499 (UK, july 84) 86B : 2744 (France, 85)