Sirius Systems Technology

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Sirius Systems Technology
TypePrivate
IndustryComputers
Founded1980; 42 years ago (1980)
Founder
Defunct1984 (1984)

Sirius Systems Technology was a personal computer manufacturer in Scotts Valley, California. It was founded in 1980 by Chuck Peddle and Chris Fish, formerly of MOS Technology and capitalized by Walter Kidde Inc. In late 1982 Sirius acquired Victor Business Systems (known for its calculators and cash registers) from Kidde and changed its name to Victor Technologies. It made the Victor/Sirius series of personal computers. The company made a public stock offering in the first half of 1983, but went into Chapter 11 protection from bankruptcy before the end of 1984. The company's assets were acquired by Datatronic AB, a Swedish software/hardware distribution company headed by Mats Gabrielsson [sv]. Gabrielsson signed a distribution deal with Kyocera, which began to supply PC clones to Victor.

Victor 9000 / Sirius 1[edit]

Victor 9000
Also known asACT Sirius 1
ManufacturerApplied Computer Techniques
TypePersonal computer
Release dateLate 1981; 41 years ago (1981)
Operating systemMS-DOS and CP/M-86
CPU5 MHz @ Intel 8088 CPU
MemoryRAM 128kB(Max 896kB)
StorageTwo 5 1/4-inch floppies (1.2 MB double-sided)
DisplayMonochrome CRT
GraphicsHitachi 46505: Text mode 80 × 25 or graphics 800 × 400 pixels
Input94 key keyboard with numpad

The Victor 9000 (distributed in the UK by British company Applied Computer Techniques[1] as the ACT Sirius 1, and in Australia by Barson Computers as the Sirius 1) was designed by Peddle, who had also designed the first Commodore PET. His team began work in January 1981 and showed a prototype in April.[2] It appeared for the first time at the Systems [de] show in Munich, Germany, in late 1981. Chuck Peddle used two of his Commodore contacts to set up two subsidiaries in continental Europe. David Deane (France) and Jürgen Tepper (Germany) were both ex-Mannesmann Tally whom Chuck had met while negotiating an OEM deal for printers.

The Victor 9000/Sirius 1 ran CP/M-86 and MS-DOS but did not claim to be IBM PC compatible. It offered a higher resolution screen and 600 KB/1.2 MB floppy drives.[3] Advertisements cited the graphics, multiple operating systems, 128 KB of RAM, and high-quality audio.[4] One striking difference between it and other machines on the market at the time was the fact that the disc utilized a form of zoned constant linear velocity (ZCLV) (using 9 different speed-zones selected out of 15 supported by the hardware) with a variant of zone bit recording (ZBR) (11 to 19 sectors depending on zone) to spun at different speeds according to where the data was stored, running slower towards the outer edge of the disc in such a way that bit density (bits per cm passing the head), rather than rotational speed, was approximately constant.[5][6] This, combined with group-coded recording (GCR), allowed standard floppy disks to hold more data than others at the time, 600 KB on single- and 1.2 MB on double-sided floppies compared with 140–160 KB per side of other machines such as the Apple II and early IBM PC, but disks made at constant bit density were not compatible with machines with standard drives.[5][6][3] The Victor 9000's 800x400 resolution screen (based on a Hitachi 46505 CRT controller chip - equivalent to a Motorola 6845),[7] 896 KB of memory (RAM), programmable keyboard and character set were also far ahead of the competition.[3]

While unsuccessful in North America, Victor 9000 became the most popular 16-bit business computer in Europe, especially those in Britain and Germany, while IBM delayed the release of the PC there. Its success led to the ACT Apricot.[8] ACT outsold the Sirius/Victor subsidiaries and also led the way in proving that application software was the key to sales. Most sales across Europe went through small systems houses rather than computer shops.

The Victor 9000 was also distributed in the UK under that name by DRG Business Machines in Weston super-Mare, who dealt with Victor Technologies in the US direct. It was not a particularly successful venture as ACT had already established a brand name and a loyal dealer base.

Reception[edit]

BYTE called the Victor 9000 "an excellent microcomputer with an outstanding array of standard features". It praised the high-quality video and large array of software available from Victor, while criticizing the high price of peripherals compared to the many third-party options on the IBM PC.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Apricot history
  2. ^ Lemmons, Phil (November 1982). "Chuck Peddle / Chief Designer of the Victor 9000". BYTE. p. 256. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  3. ^ a b c Sargent III., Murray; Shoemaker, Richard L.; Stelzer, Ernst H. K. (1988). Assemblersprache und Hardware des IBM PC/XT/AT (in German) (1 ed.). Addison-Wesley Verlag (Deutschland) GmbH / Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. ISBN 3-89319-110-0. VVA-Nr. 563-00110-4.
  4. ^ "The Victor 9000, inside out". BYTE (Advertisement). November 1982. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  5. ^ a b "Chapter 7. Disk Drive Assembly". Victor 9000 Technical Reference Manual (PDF). Victor Business Products, Inc. June 1982. pp. 7–1..7–9. 710620. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-23. Retrieved 2017-03-23. […] Track density is 96 tracks per inch, and recording density is maintained at approximately 8000 bits per inch on all tracks. […] The VICTOR 9000 uses an encoding technique called group code recording (GCR) to convert the data from internal representation to an acceptable form. GCR converts each (4-bit) nibble into a 5-bit code that guarantees a recording pattern that never has more than two zeros together. Then data is recorded on the disk by causing a flux reversal for each "one" bit and no flux reversal for each "zero" bit. […]
  6. ^ a b "Supplemental Technical Reference Material". Revision 0 (1st printing ed.). Scotts Valley, CA, USA: Victor Publications. 1983-03-23. Application Note: 002. […] Single-sided floppy drive offers 80 tracks at 96 TPI […] Double-sided floppy drive offers 160 tracks at 96 TPI […] Floppy drives have 512 byte sectors; utilising a GCR, 10-bit recording technique. […] Although the Victor 9000 uses 5 1/4-inch minifloppies of a similar type to those used in other computers, the floppy disks themselves are not readable on other machines, nor can the Victor 9000 read a disk from another manufacturers machine. The Victor 9000 uses a unique recording method to allow the data to be packed as densely as 600 kbytes on a single-sided single-density minifloppy; this recording method involves the regulation of the speed at which the floppy rotates, explaining the fact that the noise from the drive sometimes changes frequency.
  7. ^ "Victor 9000 computer, hardware review | Manualzz".
  8. ^ Pountain, Dick (November 1984). "A Plethora of Portables". BYTE. p. 413. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  9. ^ Lemmons, Phil (November 1982). "Victor Victorious". BYTE. p. 216. Retrieved 2013-10-19.

Further reading[edit]