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I > ICL  > Personal computer

Personal computer

Brian W Spoor from U.K. reports us:
I worked for an ICL reseller designing and programming custom business software for these machines for several years. There were available as multi-user machines before the IBM PC came along.

The picture that you have is of a model 1 machine (from the original Rair Black Box), the later (and much more common) model 2's had the same design case as your Quattro picture.

I don't remember the model 26 that you have listed. only the /15, /25 & /35 which were all model 2 range.

The machines that I worked on had 4 serial ports (the US market may have been different) and a SCSI-1 port to which additional hard discs or a tape unit could be attached.

An option was to add a second 4 serial port card giving 8 ports and with an additional 256Kb RAM card (giving 512Kb) you could run with a maximium of 6 users and 2 printers. I installed one system with this configuration.

Programming languages that I used on these machines were MS-Basic, Micro Focus CIS Cobol and asembler. On the later 16 bit PCs (the Quattro was a further development) MS-Basic was dropped for another flavour (P-Basic?) which was not nearly so good, also conversion tools fairly useless. We rewrote the MS-Basic systems in MF Level II Cobol, which was upward compatible with CIS Cobol.

The terminals did have printer ports, but as I recall they were serial the same as for the PC itself. The initial monitors were as per your picture, but in cream with the series 2 machines and a later model of monitor with a tilt & swivel base.

I have a Quattro with 2 monitors. Can't remember the full specification, but I think it is an 80286 with 1Mb RAM, 6 serial ports plus another comms port (synchronous?) - I can't remember whether this port configuration came in with the Quattro or the earlier 16-bit PC, SCSI-1 port and a 50Mb HDD and Concurrent-DOS. When I stripped and cleaned the system, I remember being surprised that the disc itself is MFM, connected to the SCSI bus with a small adaptor card.

The original printers supplied by ICL were generally OKI dot matrix printers, models 82 (80 col), 83 (132 col) or 84a (fast 132 col). Again I have a working 84a with the system. Other OKI models were supplied later on.

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