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E > EXELVISION  > Exeltel


ExelvisionClick here to read to company history
Exeltel


In 1986, as the micro-computer market was getting ill, some french manufacturers thought that Telematic was the solution. Oric with the Telestrat, Thomson with the TO-9+ and Exelvision with the Exeltel proposed computers with built-in modems and teletext features. The Exeltel was surely the most innovative of these three systems. It's a "super Minitel" wich can also be used as an answering machine, or can be your children teacher by downloading educative software through a dedicated network.

Basically, the Exeltel is an EXL-100 with the Exelmodem built-in and some improvements. As its little brother, the Exeltel is full of innovative ideas but that is not enough to make it a good computer. As usual, software is very important and the Exeltel, as the EXL-100, didn't pass this test... Otherwise the Exeltel is largely compatible with the EXL-100.

The Exeltel was delivered in a big box including the main unit, a detachable keyboard, a monitor, an Exelbasic+ cartridge, an Exelmémoire (16k RAM cartridge), the user documentation and the Basic handbook. The monochrome version costs 3590F while the color version 4590F in January 1987 (France).

> DESCRIPTION

Cosmeticly, the Exeltel use the same plastic case as the EXL-100. The only difference is the joysticks trap door of the EXL-100 which has been replaced by a dark plastic panel with "EXELTEL" written on it, behind which is mounted the modem.

Another minor difference, though it means a lot for the Exelvision philosophy, is that there is now a keyboard socket at the right side of the unit. It means that you are not obliged to use the infra-red feature of the keyboard, which caused some problems with the EXL-100. Indeed domestic TVs used to be pertubated by the infra-red signals which acted as their remote controllers and could, for example, switch them off. But as the Exeltel was sold with a monitor there is no reason to stand away from the display unit... The infra-red connection can still be used though, but you will have to insert battery-cells into the keyboard and be sure that there is no obstacle in between the keyboard and the infra-red receiver.

Another small cosmetic change is the addition of a small orange led next to the reset and on/off buttons, to indicate if the system is switched on.

As on the EXL-100, there are still the two slots on the front panel. One is the cartridge slot and the other is blocked and is housing the infra-red receiver.

At the back of the main unit are two large connectors : the expansion port and the Exelmémoire slot. Next to them is another difference with the EXL-100 : a phone socket used by the internal modem to communicate.

The keyboard is far better than the original EXL-100 one. It is very similar to the optional "PRO" keyboard of the EXL-100, but has now a numeric keypad. The touch feeling of this full-stroke keyboard is nice. It's possible to type Basic statements letter by letter or through a combination of keys. The main keys of the french Minitel are also integrated.

> INSIDE

Inside the system, no surprise, the most important chips are from Texas-Instrument. I remind you that Exelvision was founded by ancient "Texas-Instrument France" employees, who took a lot from the CC-40 technology to create the EXL-100. For example, the heart of the system if composed by two TI chips, the TMS-7040 and TMS-7042.
The built-in modem is the same as the on used in the Exelmodem and is also from Texas-Instrument.

The RAM capacity is bigger than with the EXL-100. You now have 82k, from which 58k are left for Basic programming. The ROM is even bigger : 96k. 16k are used by the system and 80k by the three built-in software : Exelcom (communication), Exelspeech (voice synthesizer with 184 words ready to use) and the "run-only" version of Exelquad, a language used to develop educational software (the built-in version only executes the downloaded software). To conceive Exelquad programs you had to buy the disk-drive expansion and the mouse was recommended.

> BUILT-IN SOFTWARE

Exelcom is directly accessed via the boot-up cascaded menus. By choosing the "Telephone" option you can automaticaly dial a number on the keyboard or from a directory stored on disk or Exelmémoire. You can of course access Videotex pages too, and save them in RAM, disk or Exelmémoire, or print them with the Exelwriter printer.

Boot screen and menus

There are different versions of the Exeltel ROM, some having more options than others. Some versions for example, seem to have a Kermit client built-in to transfer files between two Exeltels...

The answering machine feature is also not implemented in all ROM versions. It enables the computer to really answer phone calls with its built-in voice synthesizer (and its 184 built-in words and sounds), and to save the messages on the connected tape-recorder. There again, this innovative function seems to have disappeared on later ROM versions (V3.6 doesn't have this option).

> DEDICATED NETWORK

Exelvision tried to resolve the lack of software problem by offering a network service (free admission) where you could download all that you wanted for only the price of the communication (1F per minute). That was a nice project but the number of programs available never matched the promise (1000 announced but hardly 200 developped) and the quality of the software was quite poor, especially the Exelquad educative software which was often simple and boring quizz...

A double disk-drive (EXL-135) was available from 1986. It uses one or two 3.5'' disks of 650k and cost 2590fr with one disk-drive.

A mouse was also sold for 390fr.

 

coin_vert_1.gif (126 octets) dotclear.gif (172 octets) coin_vert_2.gif (127 octets) coin_rouge_1.gif (147 octets) dotclear.gif (172 octets) coin_rouge_2.gif (146 octets)
Good points dotclear.gif (172 octets) + The built-in modem
+ The built-in speech synthesizer
+ The keyboard (compared to the EXL-100)
dotclear.gif (172 octets) Bad points dotclear.gif (172 octets) - The lack of software
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