The Eighties was without doubt the age of the home computer. Now we might just be limited to two real choices for a computer in the home (either a PC or an Apple Mac) but back then there were more different computer systems available than you could shake a stick at.
For most of the Eighties, in the UK at least, there were four main contenders – the Commodore 64, the ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad CPC and the BBC Micro – but there were many more besides including the Dragon 32, the ZX81, the Vic-20 and today’s spotlighted machine, the Oric-1.
The Oric-1 was created by UK computer firm Tangerine Computer Systems, although it was marketed under the company name of Oric Products International. It was aimed fair and square at the ZX Spectrum end of the market, as it was of a similar size and shape, and came in both 16K and 48K versions, just like the Spectrum did, and was even sold for just about the same price.
It did also improve on the Spectrum in many ways too. First it had a better keyboard than the original Spectrum (although that wasn’t really that hard an achievement!) although it has to be said the keys were a lot smaller in size. It had better sound capabilities and a higher resolution screen too.
One thing it did keep in common with the Spectrum though was an unreliable method of loading and saving programs, that being a standard cassette tape recorder.
The Oric-1 hit the market in 1983 and sold over 200,000 units in the UK and France. This was enough to allow further development of the system and the following year saw the Oric Atmos born to the world.
The Oric Atmos looked like a great improvement externally, primarily due to it having a far far better keyboard than its siblings. However, whilst its operating system did see some improvements there was actually very little else to distinguish the Atmos from the Oric-1.
Whilst Oric Products did announce further systems beyond these, including the Oric Stratos and Oric Telestrat, neither really took off. The company went into liquidation the day after the Stratos was demonstrated for the first time in public, and whilst the Stratos did eventually get released under the auspices of French company Eureka, it never caught on and the Oric name became consigned to the great computer industry list of also rans.