Ferranti Advance 86

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The Ferranti Advance 86 was an early IBM PC compatible system conceived by Advance Technology (UK) and built by Ferranti (well known for its military products, and the ZX-81custom chip). It was sold in branches of W H Smith as It was intended to appeal to the home user and to small businesses. It had the same features as the IBM PC (360 KB disks, identical graphic resolution) but had a different CPU, the 8086 which was a true 16-bit processor, for a much lower price !

The Advance 86 was IBM PC compatible, from the keyboard, the disks, the resolution, to the expansions which could be used with the Advance through four IBM-compatible slots. In fact, the Advance 86 was first conceived as a home-computer (model 86A) and was later upgraded with a ''new box'' housing the two disk-drives, the expansion slots and thus the IBM compatibility features (model 86B). This is why the model 86B is composed of two main cases, the smallest one being the original one (86A) which houses the main board and has a wide trap-door to store the keyboard when not in use.

The Advance 86 was one of the few professional systems to work without any fan thanks to its dual power supply unit, making work more pleasant. However, a fan was later added into the lower case.

Manufactured in the United Kingdom  from December 1983
CPU:   8086 running at 4,77 Mhz
RAM:   128k, up to 256k
VRAM:   16k
ROM:   64k
TEXT MODES:   40 x 25, 80 x 25
GRAPHIC MODES:   320 x 200, 640 x 200
COLORS:   16
SOUND:   Beeper
I/O PORTS:   4 expansion slots (IBM compatible), 2 x 16-bit slots, monitor (composite) and TV video outputs, RS232, Centronics, Joysticks, cassette interface, lightpen
BUILT IN MEDIA:   2 x 5''1/4 disk-drives (360k each)
PERIPHERALS:   10Mb hard-disk, RAM expansion boards

Our 256K Advance 86 was very kindly donated by Harvey Jones and the keyboard, manual and software donated by Ian Abernethy.

Manufacturer: Ferranti
Date: December 1983

Comments for Ferranti Advance 86 :

Compatibility - 14 Apr 2020

The Advance 86 wasn't totally IBM compatible. Because it used an 8086, with a 16 bit data path, extra logic was needed to make the 8259 interrupt controller respond on the correct ports. They didn't do this, so where a real IBM compatible would use ports 20 and 21, the Advance only used even numbered ports$ in this case, 20 and 22. Any software that programmed the interrupt controller would not work correctly. Advance provided a conversion program that (mostly blindly) changed 21 to 22 in executable files. Not a success. I did it by code inspection with DEBUG, and was usually successful.

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Magazines RELATED to Ferranti Advance 86 in our Library

Item Manufacturer Date
Practical Computing - January 1984 Jan 1984
Personal Computer World - April 1984 Apr 1984
Practical Computing - June 1984 Jun 1984
Personal Computer World - July 1984 Jul 1984

Other Systems Related To Ferranti Advance 86:

Item Manufacturer Date
Ferranti Atlas Computer Ferranti 1961
Ferranti Argus 100 Ferranti 1963
Ferranti FM1600 B Ferranti 1965
Ferranti PC860 Ferranti 1973
Ferranti Argus 700 Ferranti 1973
Ferranti 1600E Ferranti 1973
Ferranti Argus PPC-20 Ferranti November 1983
Ferranti Model No PC31 Ferranti 1986

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH7141. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Ferranti Advance 86

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