All the MCM machines were designed and built in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The company was originally called "Micro Computer Machines, Inc." (the term "micro computer" was all the rage in the early 70's) but sometime in the late 70's changed the name to simply "MCM Computers".
MCM was among the first companies to fully recognize and act upon microprocessor technology's immense potential for developing a new generation of cost-effective computing systems.
Their first machine was launched in 1974 as the "MCM/70". It was a small desktop microcomputer designed to provide the APL programming language environment for business, scientific, and educational use. Since personal computers were pretty much unheard of at the time and since the company didn't have much money the launch didn't get a lot of notice. It was re-launched in 1975 or 1976 as the "MCM/700" but this was purely a marketing game; the absolute sole difference between the 70 and the 700 was the additional zero on the model designation to the right of the plasma display.
The MCM 700 uses a full APL language interpreter and incorporates a battery backup system that automatically saves the user's workspace. It has an integrated plasma alphanumeric display, full 46 key input and a bus structure to allow interface to the other peripherals developed by MCM: Floppy Disk Drive, printer, plotter, card reader and a RS232 interface (called SCI 1200). At the time of release virtually the only external peripheral available (the plasma display and cassette tape drives were built in) was a Diablo daisy wheel printer. The additional peripherals were added over time.
In theory you could order models with zero, one or two cassette tape drives and with 2K, 4K or 8K of memory. In practice the 782 (8K, two drives) was the most common. There was no external operating system; when you pressed the ON button you went directly into the in-ROM APL which had all the facilities necessary to create programs and access all the peripherals, and allow virtual memory swapping on the two 100 KB built-in cassettes drives.
There were additional models released in due course:
- Model 800 (faster cpu, RAM up to 16K, nicer looking case, CRT option)
- Model 900 (faster again, RAM up to 24K, CRT built-in)
- Model 1000, aka "MCM Power" (repackaged 900, with optional HDS-10 external hard disk unit)
Contributor: Cam Farnell who worked at MCM from 1973 until 1981, starting as a junior assembly language programmer and ending as the manager of research & development
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I bought one of these at IBM in order to get funding for the IBM 5100. The management didn''t believe you could actually put a computer on a disk, and lo and behold, without a raised floor. So, I bought the HP 9830, a Wang 2200 and an MCM/70. When Dave Slattery a vice president of development told me you couldn''t put a Basic compiler into less than 128k I wheeled one of these machines into his office. I got the funding, a story for another day about politics and bureaucracy.
Friday 4th September 2015
Alvin Ginsburg (United States)
I programmed these in APL in the summer of 1974, mainly converting mainframe functions $ workspaces to the MCM/700 environment. I still have some stock certificates....