“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Turnkey started in business in 1980, when a personal computer that you could lug out to the car, drive to a customer site and carry up three flights of stairs to demonstrate some software could be described as ‘magical’. For those who were there and are still here, I salute you. For those who weren’t, consider yourself very lucky, and read on…

Intertec Superbrain II

Without doubt any of today’s technology would be considered to be “magic” in comparison to the machines that we were supplying in the early 80s.  Our clients then, many of whom are still clients, were the proud owners of the Apple IIe or the Intertec Data Systems Superbrain. Providing the tiniest fraction of the computing power available today, these early PCs typically cost around £3,000 each. That’s around £8,500 in today’s money!  One of these PCs, considered state-of-the-art back then, even made an appearance in a 1983 episode of Night Rider!


We even had ‘scalability’ – up to 255 systems could be daisy-chained to the Compustar units using networking cables. Well, if you can call chunky 25-pair cable, terminated (soldered) to 50-pin D-Type connectors, a cable? The operating system was CP/M 2.2 (by Digital Research) with built-in and transient commands such as DIR, ERA, REN, STAT, ED, DUMP and a personal favourite, PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program).

There were some modifications that could be installed to enhance the graphics, add keyboard shortcuts improve the word-processing . . .WordStar

. . . (MicroPro Wordstar released 1979) and the “Holy Grail”  an internal 10MB 5½” Fixed Disk Drive.

Happy days!

To get a flavour of the performance (?) and specification of this machine check it out and some other classic hardware at the Centre for Computing History.

This has been a wonderful trip down memory lane for me, and there’s more to come. Watch out for the next blog wherein we see the rise and rise of the behemoth which was to become Microsoft and marvel how IBM once ‘owned’ the Personal Computer.

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Post by Bob Potter

I am passionate about empowering the team to absorb the daily challenges clients may face to keep their systems running reliably and efficiently. I gain real satisfaction from a job well done.