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X > XEROX  > 860   


This wonderful computer was mainly used as an advanced wordprocessing system, but it could do much more.

The full-text monitor could display 70 lines of 102 characters. The text could be black on a white background, or the inverse.

The Xerox 860 was equipped with one of the first WYSIWYG word processors: BravoX (later called "Xerox Document System Editor") which was originally developed for the 1972 Xerox Alto and became the predecessor of virtually all modern word processors

Two 8" disks (600 kb) stored the files. Each disk catalog could store up to 560 files.

The system was sold with a Diablo printer, which was bidirectional and could print 40 characters per second. Up to three Xerox 860 could share one Diablo printer. The printer spooler could store up to 20 documents waiting to be printed.

The Xerox 860 could also be used to write and send electronic mails or work with data-bases through an Ethernet network.

There was another version called 'Supertext' which was the same system but with a smaller screen (24 x 102 characters).

These kind of systems were very expensive!


Dave Bowles adds:
The 860 really was a computer! Its innards had all the bits defined as needed to be a computer, and with the correct floppy disk set, was capable of executing programs written in BASIC. I used one of these in the Navy in the early 80s.

John Mulvihill's opinion:
I sold these systems in the late 80s, just as they were being made obsolete by laser printers and PCs.
The 860 was the top-end word processor in the industry, displayed with pride at the head offices of all the big corporations. Secretaries who knew the 860 were the elite and were highly paid and respected. (Yes, they were called secretaries then.)
Xerox invented or developed most of the technology that, in the hands of others, put it out of business. This includes the laser printer, the graphical user interface, and the mouse!
Sadly, the copiers-heads who ran the company never understood the microcomputer revolution.
For a present-day counterpart, see Motorola's sad decline under the direction of the founder's son.

Bill Jones's memories:
I learned to use the Xerox 860 while I sold at Xerox. What a computer! I could even do spread-sheets done on the earlier 16-8 and 820II systems on the 860.
Everyone liked the full page screen, the black on white display and the CAT. Yes the fore-runner of the mouse. The Capacitance Activated Template, that moved the cursor around the screen. Laptops today use this technology.
We replaced a lot of AES systems with the Xerox 860. They were very productive.

A number of us at Xerox got the machine to use at home. We ran VisiCalc on the CPM o/s. I couldn't beleive it when I created an automatic spreadsheet that would do our monthly expenses. We printed out the result on a 5 part form. Lining it up so the Diablo would print correctly in the fields took some time. We use this for a couple of years.

David Lowy supported the installation of these into networks:
YES, Ethernet as early as 1983. This would use the Xerox Network Systems (XNS) protocol and connect to Xerox file servers, printer servers, mail servers and even communications servers.

Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).


I was an employee of Xerox Northeast Regional Headquaters in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1980. Just out of High School and working in the copy center operating a Xerox 9400. This is where I taught myself Word Processing in my spare time on the 860. I also worked the 850 and the 800. I still have my original Systems Disk and Data disk for the 860 in my cabinet. What was special was that it was a "dedicated" word processor and it had a FULL page display.

Thursday 22nd November 2007
Michael (Manhattan, NY)

I was the Xerox 860 tech in USS Horne (CG-30) from 84-87. We had three and when one went down you should have heard the wails of anguish! The were essential for our Admin, Operations, and Weapons departments reports.

Tuesday 8th June 2021
OldNavy8206 (US)

In charge of technological progress in a real estate firm(SME) - west part of France, in the early 80s, I suggest to buy a XEROX 860.

That was a great machine. Three ladies shared it.
Thanks to the "mouse", they could go anywhere in the page they saw on the screen. With this XEROX 860, we produced shareholders' meetings reports and for instance, accounting tables, contracting expenditures tables as leaving apartments thanks to specifically designed programs. JUST GREAT!

Before buying this XEROX 860, we rent a XEROX 800-2 which used 2 magnetic cards (as large as a third of an A4). On this XEROX 800-2, a small stick (cf. a joystick) enabled to choose the line you wanted to see on the display.
Existed also a XEROX 800-1 - using only one magnetic card -. This Xerox 800-1 was not so fast as XEROX 800-2

Tuesday 21st December 2004
lamballais (France, Paris)


NAME  860
TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  March 1980
KEYBOARD  AZERTY/QWERTY full-stroke keyboard, 48 keys, 20 function keys
RAM  128 kb
TEXT MODES  102 x 70 (A4 monitor)
COLORS  black and white
BUILT IN MEDIA  2 x 600 KB 8'' double sided disk-drives (some systems were sold with single sided drives)
PRICE  16115 (France, 82)

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