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.

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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
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Computers

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 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 TX

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

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


 

Torch Computers Ltd

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