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Torch Computers Ltd

Torch Computers Ltd was a computer hardware company formed in 1981.  It became well known for its computer peripherals for the BBC Micro.

Torch Computers was founded in 1981 by chartered accountants Martin Vlieland Body, Peter Harris, and Russell Lyons.  The founders all knew Herman Hauser and Chris Curry of Acorn Computers.  Acorn occupied part of their office space in Bridge Street, Cambridge, before moving to new offices, and Torch moved to Abberley House in Great Shelford in 1983.

Torch made an agreement with Acorn Computers in 1981 to be supplied with BBC Micro motherboards, and it used these to create a twin Processor PC that linked the Acorn motherboard to a Z80 B processor, enabling it to run business software.  Known as the Torch Communicator, this system it was the first PC to be authorised by British Telecom for direct connection into the BT Telephone system rather than via an Acoustic Coupler. It was supplied with Torch’s own range of software which included a Torch Word, Word Processor, Accounting, and Torch Mail which was one of the first E-mail Systems.  The Torch casing was designed by Ian Sinclair, brother of Sir Clive Sinclair.

The second product Torch produced was a Z80 Disk Pack for use with the BBC Micro Computer. This was followed by a range of 16 Bit Triple Processor machines incorporating the Motorola 68000 using Unix as their main Operating System.

The company was initially funded by a DTI backed start-up loan via Barclays Bank of £ 250,000 in 1981, which enabled it to undertake the necessary R&D and design and build its first prototypes by April in the following year. In order to move into production and start sales and marketing, it raised £ 500,000 in exchange for 20% of the company’s equity from New Market Venture Capital, in a deal signed on 13th May, 1982.  A further £ 263,000 was provided by the Welsh Development Agency for 3% of the Company’s stock later that year.

The company manufactured its products at its own factory in Caernarvon, Wales.

Although the company was eventually broken up in 1999, the spin-off from it was impressive. The founders put together a gifted  team of software and hardware engineers, all educated originally at Cambridge University. These included Peter Headland, Ray Anderson (who went on to found IX International and AIM listed mobile payments company, Bango), Martin Baines, David Oliver, Steve O’Hara Smith, Hugh Tonks (who went on to found Thymometrics), George Grey who founded Tadpole Technology, also a designer and manufacturer of Personal Computers), Clive Feather, Simon David, and several others.

Martin Vlieland Body went on to found several different businesses. Peter Harris founded the hugely successful Hotel Chocolat. Russell Lyons set up Innovation Software, which has created a range of ERM (Enterprise Relationship Management) and Financial Software applications integrated with over 40 ERP and Accounting Systems.

*

The above information was kindly provided by Russell Lyons, one of the original founders of Torch Computers Ltd.

Torch's address in 1985 was :
 
TORCH Computers Limited
Abberley House
Great Shelford
Cambridge
CB2 5LQ
England
*
 

Timeline for Torch :

Date Event
Mar 1982 News Article : Twin-processor Torch may be leading light
Jul 1982 News Article : Torch to make light of communications


Hardware Products

Torch Z80 Disc Pack

Torch Z80 Disc Pack
Unknown
The Torch Z80 Disc Pack was actually 2 parts, the Disc Pack seen here, and the Z80 Communicator second processor.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Peripheral

Torch Light Pen

Torch Light Pen
Unknown
The Torch Light Pen has been designed for use with the Torch Computer and the BBC Micro Computer.

Manufacturer : Torch Computers PLC
Type : Peripheral

Torch HD Power Pack

Torch HD Power Pack
Unknown
Torch Computers HD Power Pack Unit Model No: HDPP240Serial No: 84412493...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Peripheral

Torch Hard Disc Computer

Torch Hard Disc Computer
1983
Torch Computers Ltd is one of the longest-established computer manufacturers in Cambridge.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Computer

Torch Model No. 301

Torch Model No. 301
1984
Torch Computers Ltd was a computer hardware company formed in 1982 in Great Shelford, near Cambridge, UK and became well known for its computer peripherals for the BBC Micro.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Computer

Torch Triple X

Torch Triple X
1985
The Torch Triple X (or XXX) was a UNIX workstation computer produced by the British company Torch Computers, and launched in 1985 The Triple X was based on an 8 MHz 68010 CPU, with a Hitachi 6303 "service processor".

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Computer

Torch TX

Torch TX
1985
Very similar to the Triple X but with the addition of a floppy disc drive.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Computer

Torch Triple X with Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse

Torch Triple X with Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse
1985
The Torch Triple X (or XXX) was a UNIX workstation computer produced by the British company Torch Computers, and launched in 1985 The Triple X was based on an 8 MHz 68010 CPU, with a Hitachi 6303 "service processor".

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Computer

Torch Quad X

Torch Quad X
1989
In 1989 Torch were developing an enhanced version of the Triple X, called the Quad X, but ran out of money and went into receivership.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Computer

Torch Graduate

Torch Graduate
1995
The Torch Graduate is a second processor designed to be attached to the BBC Micro.

Manufacturer : Torch Computers PLC
Type : Computer


Promotional Items

Torch Badge

Torch Badge
Unknown
Torch badge kindly donated by Mark Cook.

Manufacturer : TorchTo
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Triple X

Torch Triple X
Unknown
Torch Triple X 6 page sales leaflet with specification, screen shots and technical summary...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Promotional Folder

Torch Promotional Folder
Unknown
Torch Promotional Folder for holding other leaflets but contains 10 pages, company information and photographs...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Z80 Disc Pack

Torch Z80 Disc Pack
1982
This Torch Z80 Disc Pack leaflet is a 2 page A4 leaflet with specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Mail Plus

Torch Mail Plus
1982
This Torch Mail Plus leaflet is a 2 page A4 leaflet with specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Triple X computer system

Torch Triple X computer system
1982
This Torch Triple X computer system leaflet is a 4 page A4 leaflet with specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Graduate IBM PC Compatible upgrade

Torch Graduate IBM PC Compatible upgrade
1984
Torch Graduate IBM PC Compatible upgrade for the BBC Model B MicroA4 2 page specification andXchange software bundle for the Graduate G800/2...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Unicorn Technical Overview

Torch Unicorn Technical Overview
1984
Torch Unicorn Technical Overview 8 page illustrated description and specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch 5 Unicorn Open Channels for the BBC Micro

Torch 5 Unicorn Open Channels for the BBC Micro
1984
Torch5 Unicorn Open Channels for the BBC Micro - 4 page A4 leaflet...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch C Series Microcomputer

Torch C Series Microcomputer
1984
Torch C Series Microcomputer A4 leaflet & specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers (725 Microcomputer)

Torch Computers (725 Microcomputer)
1984
Torch Computers A4 leaflet covering the Torch 725 microcomputer...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Networks from Torch Computers

Networks from Torch Computers
1984
Networks from Torch Computers - 4 page A4 leaflet...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Price List August 1984

Torch Price List August 1984
August 1984
Torch Price List August 19842 A4 pages.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Professional Computer Range

Torch Professional Computer Range
1986
This Torch Professional Computer Range brochure is a 12 page A4 quality publication detailing the range including:CZ WorkstationTZ WorkstationCX ComputerTX20 Computer725 Computer750 Computer...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch C-Series Computer

Torch C-Series Computer
1986
This Torch C-Series Computer Lighting The Way Ahead leaflet is 2 page A4 with specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers - Videotex System

Torch Computers - Videotex System
1986
This Torch Computers - Videotex System leaflet is 4 page A4 publication...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers - 300 Series Workstation

Torch Computers - 300 Series Workstation
1986
This Torch Computers - 300 Series Workstation leaflet is 2 page A4 publication...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers Y-OpenTop

Torch Computers Y-OpenTop
1986
This Torch Computers Y-OpenTop Desktop Manager leaflet is 2 page A4 publication...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers X Window System

Torch Computers X Window System
1986
This Torch Computers X Window Portable Graphics System leaflet is 2 page A4 publication...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers Unicomm Communications Package

Torch Computers Unicomm Communications Package
1986
This Torch Computers Unicomm Communications Package leaflet is 2 page A4 publication...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch UNIX Product Range

Torch UNIX Product Range
1986
This Torch UNIX Product Range leaflet is an 8 page leaflet giving the history of UNIX and products includingTorch UnicornTorch 725Torchnet...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch X-Desktop Technical Notes

Torch X-Desktop Technical Notes
1988
This Torch X-Desktop Technical Notes leaflet is 8 page A4 publication...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch Computers News June 1988

Torch Computers News June 1988
June 1988
This Torch Computers News June 1988 leaflet is 4 page A4 publication giving details ofDatacubeTriple-X...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch QS2000

Torch QS2000
1990
This Torch UNIX QS2000 leaflet is a 4 page A4 leaflet with featrures rather than a specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch QM2000

Torch QM2000
1990
This Torch UNIX QM2000 family leaflet is a 4 page A4 leaflet with features rather than a specification...

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item

Torch QX Family

Torch QX Family
1990
This Torch QX family leaflet is a 6 page A4 leaflet with features rather than a specification.

Manufacturer : Torch
Type : Promotional Item


Video Relating to Torch :


Magazine Articles About Torch

 

Torch Computers Ltd

 

 

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