After the launch of the Apricot PC, largely inspired by the Victor S1 which sold well in the UK, ACT developed another computer, the Apricot F1. This new system was marketed equally as a business system and as a home-computer (with its TV video output for example).
The design of the F1 is quite innovative with its original shape and infrared keyboard. The main unit is much more deep than large, and the straight line of the whole system was quite stylish for the time.
There was no lead or cord between the keyboard and the main unit. All the communication was made through infrared signals. This is quite useful if you want to work from your sofa, four meters away from the main unit but you also must be sure that there is no obstacle between the keyboard and the infrared receivers located on the front of the main unit.
The Apricot F1 was however originally shipped with a plastic light-pipe that could be connected between the keyboard and CPU so that obstacles would not block the signal. Another drawback was that the keyboard had to be constantly powered with batteries!
This infrared feature is quite rare and the F1 is one of the only computers to be equiped with it, alongside the ACT Apricot Portable and Exelvision EXL-100 and a few others...
Just above the quite comprehensive membrane keyboard are four small round buttons used to set the date and time of the internal clock, to change the rate of the keys auto-repeat feature, to lock the keyboard and to reset the computer.
Even if the F1 used an 8086 it wasn’t really IBM PC compatible (though minor changes could make it BIOS compatible). The MS-DOS 2.11 used by the system is an Apricot modified version of the "real" MS-DOS.
The Apricot F1 was delivered with a nice icon-based graphical interface called "Activity" along with quality bundled sotfware for graphics, communication, wordprocessing and system tools. The same infra-red mouseball pointing device used with the Apricot Portable was available for the F1.
As the F1 was not IBM PC compatible and not particularly cheap, it didn't have great success outside its native country (UK). A slightly less expensive version was also released, labelled F1e. It was the same machine but the 720 KB floppy drive was replaced by a single sided 320 KB version. This version was about 300 Euros cheaper than the normal version.
Whoa... Are there really so few owners/fans of this great machine? My own has a single 3.5" slot, no HD, 9" green screen and I broke the fibre optic cable for the IR keyboard. I couldn''t afford the IR trackball while it was available but I added 512K to the default 256K on board.
I also managed to get copies of SuperCalc 3, DBase II and Friday!, a database program created using DBII. I still giggle at the MS Windows 1.0 vouchers it came with. (This machine recalculated the most basic spreadsheet with figures scrolling along for several seconds, like those cliche ''80s movies.)
However, at the time it was about a year ahead of IBM''s PCs. They still had 5.25" floppies, 64K RAM, 8088 chips and locked-in servicing.
I can $ a single disk to launch MSDOS 2.0, SCalc/SWriter and all the data I have. It will all run from a RAM disk and batch save my data back to disk before shutting down.
Computers today don''t seem to do anything any faster than before. Graphics look great but we still sit and wonder what to do next...
Thursday 1st January 2009
I acquired an Apricot F1 system$monitor, computer, trackball, and infrared keyboard$today at an estate here in New Mexico. Monitor''s startup screenshot shows a system date of "18/07/1985". Does anyone know if there''s someone here in the US who''s interested in a vintage system from the UK? I''m thinking it would be cost prohibitive to ship it to England.
Friday 7th June 2019
Boomtown 45 (United States)
Hi Matt, I am an enthusiastic collector of the Apricot F-series machines and would be interested in any Apricot stuff you have. I don''t run a computer museum but I collect and restore vintage machines. Let me know if you want to discuss further. Cheers, Robin