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This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the ABS Computer  ORB computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Monday 16th May 2011
Andy Holyer (UK)

I worked for ABS for a period in 1984, and quite a bit of my time was supporting the Orb.

Slight correction on the above - there was a choice of eight colours, and yes the fire brigade did apparently buy one because nobody else produced a fire-engine-red computer.

The Orb had one major failure: the more terminals connected, and the more those terminals were doing, the worse the chance of an "Uninitialised Interrupt" which would freeze the whole box. I don''t believe an 8-terminal rig ever worked - we had a 4-terminal setup in our office and that was about the limit. During the summer of 84 I was sent off on a long tour of dealers to upgrade the firmware of their Orbs. Along with this was a set of release notes, and no I don''t still have a copy of these, but the notes contained the following magnificent paragraph:

"Uninitialised Interrupts: The Orb no longer suffers from Uninitialised Interrupts. In future they will be referred to as "Unexpected Interrupts".

To be fair, these now only froze one screen, so you could shout out for everyone in the office to save their work before rebooting the machine, but still...

The Orb was the eventual downfall of ABS. Dealers around the country signed up as dealers on the basis of receiving telephone calls form people saying that they would like to buy an Orb, and were they a dealer? Eventually it emerged that these calls had actually come from people in the sales department of ABS.... I only discovered this during a later interview (I didn''t get the job, but they suggested that having ABS on my cv was probably a limiting move).

Oh, and the hook line for the Orb? "The All-round Personal Computer". *Sigh*.

Friday 5th March 2021
Stan Sieler (United States)

" was one of the first, if not the first, multi-user user microprocessor systems". I had an Alpha Micro AM-100 in my living room in 1978. A multi-user system, it was based on the WD16 microprocessor chipset from Western Digital (clone of a PDP-11, IIRC). But ... wow, I''d love to have an Orb!

Monday 11th December 2017
Tricia Stevenson nee Grant (United Kingdom)

I worked for ABS before the Orb. I started when they were in Charing Cross Road $ moved to Byfleet with them. That''s where I met my husband James Rew Stevenson who was the Purchasing Officer for ABS. I remember Alan Birch, Gilbert Van Someren, Paul ?, Timothy ?, I can picture the accountant ? Cherry? My memory is not so good these days.

Friday 5th May 2017
Matthew Hart (Sydney, Australia)

I worked as an Intern for ABS Computers in Portslade, E.Sussex in 1985.

The Orb (and its more powerful sibling the Tower Orb or TOrb), were great computers.

The Simple 7 programming languae was a joy to use, as it employed a method of translating english into code, much like Psuedo Code, this was then compiled into the application.

I really miss that language, and would sorely love to get hoold of the sources so I could re-visit it.

Tuesday 16th June 2015
Seba Rho (Argentina)

I''ve found theese pics of ABS Computer''s facilities: Someone could check this?

Sunday 14th September 2014
Kwabena A. A. Mensah

I''m nursing feelings of nostalgia for the ABS MX mini, the first computer I worked on. I''d be interested to hear from anyone who built or used this machine.

In January 1986, I joined TC Coombs $ Co., a London stockbroker. The business depended on a pair of MXs - lovingly named System A and System B - running the "Simple 7" combined operating system and programming language, and an equity trade accounting package written by ABS.

ABS had ceased supporting the machines, and there was no documentation on either the hardware or the software other than on-screen prompts, a directory of reports (cryptically titled Z1 to about Z100), and source code listings for the handful of modules that were run regularly.

Initially my job was to disassemble the main trade data capture and contract note printing module, working forward from the eighty pages of source code and backward from the contract note.

Once I''d got the hang of Simple 7, I extended the application by coding an aged debtors module, which made me popular with the Finance Director and earned me a big pay raise.

The ABS systems were replaced between June and December 1986 with a MicroVAX cluster running the Ingres RDBMS under VMS. Over the succeeding eighteen months, we developed a custom accounting and settlement application on the new platform.

I left the firm in January 1990 and it went bust a year later. The ABS MXs and Simple 7 were already a distant memory then and I''ve always wondered what became of my first computer love.

Friday 8th April 2011
rog (Brighton)

I worked at Shortlands, and remember them around the office, I really wished I had snagged one then.
I remember people saying they had overheating issues, and caught on fire, but i never saw it.
The Shortlands building has now been converted to a church.

Thursday 28th September 2006
Daniel Garland (New Zealand)

"Interesting system! early imac?"\

Um.. HELL NO. Do any of these still exist? or are they extinct???

Wednesday 10th April 2002
Joseph Hays (USA)

Interesting system! early imac?

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