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I > ICL  > OPD - One Per Desk   

OPD - One Per Desk

This strange mixture between telephone and computer is actually a Sinclair QL (slightly modified, of course). It is based on the QL motherboard, but with some improvements, namely, ruggedized (in other words, more reliable) Microdrives.

ICL also added some software in ROM: diary, address and phone book, communication software and a terminal emulator. It has a built-in modem and a speech synthesizer.

According to ICL, each executive should have this computer on his desktop !

Two rebadged versions were sold in UK (Merlin Tonto) and Australia (Telecom Computerphone).


More information from 'Ex Cathedra'
This was a classic design disaster - great ideas, poor execution. The microdrives didn't buffer as the Sinclair ones did, leading to a 7-sec seek time ever time a block was missed. The phone handset was 3/4 size and uncomfortable to use. Overheating was a big problem too, with frequent crashes. The speech synth could answer the phone with a Texas Dalek voice, but couldn't take a message. A fave in-house game at ICL was getting the thing to swear using the limited vocab range...

The main software was Psion xChange - WP, spreadsheet, DB and business graphics. This was in ROM, with the BASIC interpreter on Microdrive - Sinclair QLs were the other way round. xChange was a good package for its day, and actually looks very similar to the built-in packages on the Psion PDAs (3a, 5). The terminal emulation was a VT-type and a PRESTEL (the UK info service operated by the post office).

The system, as did the QL, had basic task-switching - not real multitasking (background tasks didn't run) but at least you were not constantly unloading and reloading programs as on the IBM PCs of the day. A big boon given the problem with the microdrives...

Add-on ROMS were available (your pic actually shows one top right) which made the machine into an ICL7561 terminal emulator. This was a popular configuration as ICL discounted them heavily and they ended up cheaper than the original terminals.

NAME  OPD - One Per Desk
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  United Kingdom
YEAR  1984
KEYBOARD  Full stroke 73-key with numeric keypad
CPU  Motorola MC 68008
SPEED  7.5 MHz
CO-PROCESSOR  Sinclair ULA gate array chip
RAM  128 KB (extensible to 640 KB)
ROM  From 128 KB to 352 KB
TEXT MODES  42 / 64 / 84 chars. x 24 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  256 x 256 (8 colors) / 512 x 256 (4 colors)
SOUND  TI TMP5220C speech synthesiser / built-in loudspeaker
SIZE / WEIGHT  44 (W) x 26.5 (D) x 6.8 (H) cm
I/O PORTS  RS232 (2), QL Network (2), Joystick (2), ROM extension, RAM extension
BUILT IN MEDIA  Two microdrives
POWER SUPPLY  Power is supplied by the monitor
PERIPHERALS  Dual 3.5'' Floppy disc drive unit, Terminal adapter, various software in ROM cartridges
PRICE  Unknown

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