Ralph Williams from U.K. clarifies:
The original Xen was not IBM PC or AT compatible. It was (largely)
compataible with previous apricot models, and had a more logical design,
without the 640K limit, a more efficient floppy disk format standard, and
the winchester drive labeled A:, the floppy B:.
The Xen-i was quickly introduced as an IBM-AT clone, with the winchester
labled C:, and the floppy A:. The box was identical except for the -i on the
logo. If you typed "format A:" on one machine you formatted a
floppy disk, but type it on the other and you erased the operating system
and all your data...
Philip Herdina adds:
Xen is apricot compatible an not ibm compatible, apart
from what the limited emulator can do. the advertising blurb says all the
ibm compatibility you need. obviously apricot had decided one did not need
it. you can start a xen with an f-series operating system disk. as far as i
can see, it is fully compatible with the final version f-series as was
intended to be so. was certainly faster than the ibm-compatible xen-i
More information from Charles Verrier:
The picture here is of a Xen-i. The original Xen had the external power
supply (or 'brick') because the internal space was severely limited by the
There was a hatch on the top right of the case, giving access to the
internal expansion slots, which were of a unique design it shared with the
earlier Apricot PC.
Even the keyboard connector was a non-standard design.
The Xen shipped with a 3.5" floppy drive (the only manufacturer other
than IBM and Apple to use this size at the time).
The odd cut-off on the top-left of the keyboard matched a telephone handset
unit marketed by Apricot.
There was a small mounting hole to the left of the F1 key that was designed
to accept a microphone.
The LCD display on the keyboard was used as a way of labelling the
programmable function keys (a little LED on each key illuminated when the
key was active). This display also acted as the display for a
desk-calculator, which then used the keypad for its numeric entry.
This was one of my first home PC's.I had the expansion unit which was a huge box that pushed into the side. I had a pair of 10MB 5.25" full height drives in it. It was huge!
Following that I progressed to the Xen-i the fully IBM compatible model. Mine originally had a miniscribe 33mb hard drive we called the popcorn drive. Because in operation the head movement sounded like a popcorn machine! I still put the expansion unit on it as I really wanted the storage :)
Later I remember installing the newer Xen-i with 45mb hard drive and seeing a lot of issues as the heavier VGA monitor pressed down on the case, which in turn rested heavily on top of the 45mb drive case and actually stopped the drive spinning!
Reaching up to the Xen-s which grew into 80386/486's rocked until you wanted to buy more RAM. Back then a 4MB module set you back 100's of pounds. Those customers who upgraded further paid the price in having to lose their initial purchase... I confess to reselling those removed modules second hand and making out with a scandalous profit.
Ooh those memories.