In 1979, the Bulgarian Techical Cybernetics Institute took up with the idea of creating a small microprocessor based system.
In 1980 the first three Bulgarian microcomputers were produced. Their creators called the machine IMKO-1 for Individualen Micro KOmputer. In 1981 a series of few tenths machines was released. First users were enthusiastic about the versality and ease of use of the IMKO. Furthermore, the price wasn't very high.
Mass production started in 1982. First models shipped with a standard TV set instead of a monitor.
The IMKO-1 was actually an almost 100% compatible Apple II system featuring same expansion slots. Sadly, neither expansion card nor floppy disk unit were available in Bulgaria. Some rare customers bought them from Western European countries or from Taiwan, others used a tape recorder.
The first international presentation of the IMKO-1 occured at Robotics Symposium in England. Bulgaria demonstrated then a robot controlled by a microcomputer. At this time, Japaneses and U.S. robots were controlled by minicomputers. The IMKO-1 robot system cost thus ten times cheaper and its maintenance was much more easy.
Bozhidar Stefanov from Bulgaria adds: Imko-1 and Imko-2 (almost the same machine with little upgrades) have been first manufactured in Sofia until 1982. The name was changed to Pravetz 82 when the computer was made in Pravetz, a small town near Sofia. It had a lot of peripherals like daisy whell printer, plotters or modems as well as loads of strange expansion boards specially manufactured for various factories. The Robot was called Robko 1 (an arm type robot)
Ivaylo Uzunoff reports :
Usually there was a monitor the same color as the computer box sitting on top of the main unit. The monitor had a black background, the symbols displayed on the monitor were green. usually on the right hand side there were two floppy drives one on top of another. They were connected with a wide "ribbon" cable to the main computer. To load OS you need to insert the disk into the flopy, since the computer did not had a HDD. Then you can insert a disk with primitive software or game.
We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system,
please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
Special thanks to Bozhidar Stefanov from Bulgaria who donated us this computer !
Note, that the normal monthly salary back then was about 200lv. So 4190lv is quite high price and not many people had them in their homes. That said, these computers (and later models) became quite common in factories and schools and there were freely available computer courses in many places.
Thursday 17th October 2013
Ivan Toshkov (Bulgaria)
This computer is historic for two reasons - First, it introduced the $phonetic$ layout of the Bulgarian keyboars (as opposed to BDS, which is the standard typewriter layout). Second, it was hacked (upgraded) to work with cyrillic characters, replacing the small latin letters and creating a new Cyrillic codepage.