This article was contributed by Mike Voss.

*

The original design came about on 'beer mats'. I think at the time, ACT  wanted to produce and market their own machine in direct competition with the  Sirius, but more 'up market', 'cheaper' and built in the UK. Just how they came to be talking to QED I can't remember, but there was a very 'short' lead time from concept to first unit, something like 6 weeks or probably less. Another outside  company (Capa, of London) was brought in to design and prototype up the first PC  case, which didn't go through many changes from the prototype one, other than  moving a few fixing points.

What you have to remember is that I was assembling Microscribe terminals  for loan samples, along with other prototype work and the Apricot PC and PC/Xi  and series came to me amidst my other 'assembly' and prototype work.

I can remember being asked if I could wire wrap the first prototype  circuit design, the designer only showed me one A0 sheet, which could have been  done in about a week, not knowing that there was another A0 sheet to go with it  that would have taken about 2 weeks on its own, but it was eventually  calculated that  it was going to take just as long to wire wrap as it would to design and  manufacture the first multy-layer (4 layers) PCB.

I think the first board arrived on the Saturday morning, and was build and  being de-bugged the same afternoon, the Hi and Lo boot roms (Eproms) were edited  on the Sunday and left on soak until the Monday, odd changes being made to  them on the Monday. ACT visited on the Tuesday I think, to see the first prototype  machine running.

It was, as I recall, a panic to get the first prototype out as it was  behind schedule, the next 5 units and 10 boards took about 6 days to assemble and  test and fit into 'boxes'.

With the F series, I can't remember having a different type/design of  board, the F1, F1e, F2 and F10 were the same board, just under populated, I can  remember the problems getting 2 floppy drives into the same space as the single  720k drive, and designing the bracketry to mount them, you may have the  sketches of the brackets and dimensions and the position slots cut-out in my book. The  F10 (Fat F1) had the single 720k drive, with the hard drive mounted above the  Infrared board and at the side of the floppy, with its driver board in one  of the bus sockets, with ribbon forced into places it didn't want to go, the  drive mounting brackets design is in my note book, that design was used  throughout the F series production run

I'm not sure if I have them, but there were drawings of the 'wooden cases'
the first 6 Apricot PC's went into, I have the remains of a PC case and  possibly an F1 caes buried at the back of my attic, which I'll dig out for you. I  think there is a PC/Xi keyboard still in its wooden case up there as well. I  also have, somewhere, the full chip set for the 'prototype' board.
 

Something else has just come to mind with the first PC, I had the
absoulutely wonderful job of sampling different manufacturers chips in a board to see
what the 'different' propogation times were for their gates, and to 'pick' the
best ones for the location within the circuit, Motorola 74LS32 would work ok in
one place, but a TI chip was better in another place... I went through at
least 10 on/off switches and many 1488's and 1489's (RS232) that just blew up for
no particular reason.

I can remember the first few PC production boards had sockets fitted for a
few chips on the board that were known to be expected to 'blow-up' for no
reason.

Date : Unknown

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH40296. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
 

Memories - Memories at Apricot

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