Wren Executive System

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This system is interesting in a number of ways, firstly the design is rather novel, a carry handle at the back, which is attached to the machine above the various ports and interfaces, but perhaps most impressively, the top half of the machine is on rails, so the screen and disk drives slide away from the user to reveal the keyboard underneath. From left to right at the rear are an autodial modem socket, paddle controls, RS232c Winchester HDD or network socket, printer port reset button and colour output socket. It has a 7 inch monochrome screen, although the system can be connected to a colour monitor, it is also equipped with two 5.25 disk drives, which are 40 track and 190k. It is a Z80 based machine with 64K expandable to 256K.

The Wren was one of the last laptop CP/M computers, and as well as a computer it can be used as a Teletext terminal. It weights more than 12 kg due to its largely metal construction.

The company Wren Computers Ltd was a joint venture between Transam Microsystems and Prism, the latter had exclusive distribution rights to the ZX81. The Wren was Prism’s back up plan if they lost the distribution rights to the ZX81.

They approached the Trans Am to design a new portable computer to the Wren’s specification, Transam completed their work in exchange for a minority share holding in the new Wren Computer Ltd company, and the machine went into production at the Thorn EMI Factory in Wales. The machine is sometimes called the Thorn EMI Wren, but the company had nothing to do with the machine apart from the manufacture, and some suggestions to the design of the case and mountings to simplify the final assembly.

While the computer was still in production Prism went into receivership, as they did indeed lose the exclusive rights to the Sinclair machine as companies could now approach Sinclair directly for stock, leaving them with huge amounts of unsold machines.

As Prism were the majority shareholder in Wren Computers Ltd, that company was also wound up. At this point production was halted. It is thought that only around 1,000 were made, but parts were left unassembled for 9,000 more, leaving suppliers holding parts for machines that would never be built.

Transam continued until 2009, producing the Triton Computer and the Tuscan.

The software package was excellent and included, the Perfect series of programs, and had a version of BBC basic.

The onboard modem could dial stored numbers, and is Prestel compatible.

Our machine is in excellent, fully working condition.

Manufacturer: Wren Computers Ltd
Date: 1984

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH51455. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Wren Executive System

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