A Quick History...

Oric was the name used by Tangerine Computer Systems for a series of home computers, including the original Oric-1, its successor the Oric Atmos, the later unreleased Oric Stratos/IQ164 and the model based on that, the Oric Telestrat.

With the phonominal success of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Tangerine's backers suggested that they too release a home computer and Tangerine formed Oric Products International Ltd to develop and release the Oric-1 in early 1983.

The Oric is said to be named after the computer, Orac, in the BBC science-fiction series Blake's Seven (according to the December 1982 edition of Practical Computing).

The Oric-1
The Oric-1 was a British-designed and built machine, which was released in 1983. Based on a 1 MHz MOS Technology 6502 CPU, itcame in 16 KB or 48 KB RAM variants for £129 and £169 respectively, matching the models available for the popular ZX Spectrum and undercutting the price of the 48 KB version of the Spectrum by a few pounds.

Technically, the Oric-1 improved somewhat over the Spectrum with a solid keyboard with 57 moving keys capable of full upper and lower case with a correctly positioned space bar.

As well as PAL UHF RF Modulator, there was also RGB output on a 5 pin DIN socket.

The biggest improvement was the addition of a true sound chip, the programmable theGeneral Instruments AY-3-8912 providing 3 channel sound. This was coupled with  an internal loudspeaker and amplifier.

However, although technically better than the Spectrum for less money, the Oric-1 did suffer from reliability problems. Cassette loading performance could be very hit and miss, the ROM was very buggy, the voltage regulator overheated and failed and there were often RAM issues.

The Oric Atmos
In late 1983 the funding cost for continued development of Oric caused external funding to be sought, and eventually led to a sale to Edenspring Investments PLC.[5] The Edenspring money enabled Oric International to release the Oric Atmos,

The Atmos was the successor of the Oric 1 and had almost the same features. The main difference was the real mechanical keyboard which was a huge improvement.

It came with the version 1.1 ROM which addressed the bugs in version 1.0 in the Oric-1.

Unfortunately the machine was no more reliable, with a voltage regulator that still got extremely hot, and despite getting a new heat sink, it was not enough to stop it from failing. RAM problems were still common and the tape loading showed little improvement, even though work to improve it had been done.

Two versions were again available, with 16 or 48 KB of RAM. The 16K version was not upgradable, so very few were sold.

Despite the issues with both machines, they sold well with 160,000 units of the Oric-1 selling in the UK in 1983 and 50,000 sold in France. The machines wre also popular in the Netherlands, particulay the Atmos.

Oric Stratos and Oric Telestrat
Although the Oric Atmos had not turned around Oric International's fortunes, in February 1985, they announced several models including the Oric Stratos/IQ164.

Despite their backers putting them into receivership the following day, Oric was bought by French company Eureka, which continued to produce the Stratos, followed by the Oric Telestrat in late 1986.

The Stratos and Telestrat increased the RAM to 64 KB and added more ports, but kept the same processor and graphics and sound hardware as the Oric-1 and Atmos.

The Telestrat is a telecommunications-oriented machine. It comes with a disk drive as standard, and only connects to an RGB monitor / TV.

The machine is backward compatible with the Oric-1 and Oric Atmos by using a cartridge. Most of the software is in French, including Hyper-BASIC's error messages. This limited its popularity outside of France, where it's estimated that around 6000 units were sold.

In December 1987, after announcing the Telestrat 2, Oric International went into receivership for the second and final time.


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