Actrix (computer)

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Actrix computer
Developer Actrix Computer Corporation
Type transportable personal computer
Release date 1984; 33 years ago (1984)
Operating system CP/M-80 V2.2
CPU NEC D780C-1 @ 4 MHz

The Actrix computer, released in 1984 by Actrix Computer Corporation, was a Zilog Z80-based transportable personal computer running CP/M-80 V2.2. It was initially released as the Access Computer, made by Access Matrix Computer Corporation, but both the company and its product changed names after trademark disputes.

Specifications[edit]

Hardware:

Options[edit]

The void to the right of the two floppy drives could either be open, for convenient storage of a handful of floppy diskettes, or blanked to conceal one of two options:

Another option was a 50-pin connector at the rear of the void, for 8" disk drives

If either UPS or 8088 options were present the rear or the void was blanked off with a screw-on plate. If the 50-pin 8" disk cable option is present the rear of the void is changed to a clip-on panel securing the 50-pin cable connector. If no options were fitted the rear of the floppy void was a blank clip-on panel. If only the 50-pin option is present the floppy void was modified internally with a plastic jacket to prevent stored diskettes from interfering with the rear of the 50-pin header/cable assembly

Connectors[edit]

  • keyboard
  • 2 X D25F RS232 serial (AUX terminal/console or printer)
  • 1 X Centronics parallel port (printer)
  • 1 x IEEE-488 / GP-IB (hard disk)
  • 1 x composite video (larger/second monitor)
  • 50-pin header on mainboard to optional external 50-pin male IDC connector for external 8" disk drives
  • IEC power (115V/220V dealer-switchable)

Disk assignments[edit]

  • A: first 5.25" floppy to load OS
  • B: 'other' 5.25" floppy
  • C: first side of first 8" disk
  • D: second side of first 8" disk
  • E: first side of second 8" disk
  • F: second side of second 8" disk
  • M: 256kB RAM disk utilising 256kb RAM from the 8088 co-processor

Software[edit]

  • Digital Research CP/M-80 2.2 operating system
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 1.25 (only with optional 8088 co-processor board)
  • M: Drive utility (to utilise 256KB RAM on optional 8088 co-pro board as M: RAM disk under CP/M)
  • Personal Pearl database system
  • FancyFont text markup and layout software
  • Perfect Series office suite (Filer (database), Calc (spreadsheet), Writer (word processor))
  • Digital Research CBASIC compiler
  • Microsoft MBASIC interpreter

Included bespoke utilities[edit]

  • TELCOMU – comms software with phonebook, modem dialling and X-modem file transfer capabilities, useful for connecting to online services such as CompuServe and RCP/M BBS systems. Also TELCOM and TELCOM+ variants (1.05/1.16/x.yy)
  • DISKU – utility for copying, duplicating, formatting and verifying 5.25" and 8" floppy disks (2.26)
  • CONFIGU – allowed customisation of various attributes such as monitor, cursor, printer, console redirection, RS232 and Centronics paramteres. Once customised settings were saved and could be reloaded manually or used by the WAKEUP program to allow customisations to be set at boot time (1.03)
  • WAKEUP – used at boot to set date and time and apply configuration profiles created using CONFIGU (1.03)
  • AMD – Set CP/M to use the 256KB RAM of optional 8088 co-processor board as M: 'ram-drive'
  • INSTALL – Actrix auto-command installation utility - allowed specification of a .COM file to auto-execute at cold-boot time (1.00)
  • DAC-DS – Dealer Acceptance Test – a diagnostic utility for dealers to quickly tests memory/clock, floppy disk, video, printer and keyboard (1.01)

International distribution[edit]

In Australia, one official distibutor of the Actrix Computer range was Richard Carpenter, based in Little Mountain, Queensland. It is believed[according to whom?] that Carpenter imported two or three Access Computers as sales tools and demonstrators, but shipped less than a dozen Actrix Computers. In 1986, two demonstrator Actrix machines were repossessed by the financier, NatWest Australia Bank.

Failure[edit]

Expensive TV advertising and constant lawsuits concerning the product and company-naming rights were drains on capital that speeded the decline and ultimate stop of sales of Actrix machines. Existing orders were filled by one remaining technician, who built the last remaining machines from spare parts.

External links[edit]