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.
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.
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).
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is the joysticks trap door of the EXL-100 which has been replaced by a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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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).
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
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.
was also sold for 390fr.
The built-in modem
+ The built-in speech synthesizer
+ The keyboard (compared to the EXL-100)
The lack of software