Chapter 2

A CLOAD of trouble


Paul Sample's artwork


The launch was not to be without its problems. The heavyweight Personal Computer World printed a full benchtest in its April 1983 edition:

"The appearance of the Oric-1 has demonstrated once again the almost comical inability of British micro manufacturers to launch a new machine properly. Funded by British Car Auctions and utilising the considerable experience of Tangerine Computers, the Oric is aimed at the fastest growing sector of the micro market - the sub-200 home computer. The delivery difficulties that dogged both the BBC and the Sinclair Spectrum should have alerted Oric to the pitfalls ahead, but the new company observed their rivals mistakes, then promptly went out and repeated them. Adverts inviting customers to send off their cheques began appearing in October. 30,000 orders were received in the first two months and Oric was confident that large numbers would be delivered in time for Christmas. But delivery of ROM chips was delayed, and it became apparent that Oric's deadlines were hopelessly optimistic... It's unfortunate that Oric should have set about marketing its product in this unprofessional and slapdash way - it can do the company's reputation no good and, what is worse, it's liable to be reflected in the consumer developing a distrust of the computer that it really does not deserve."
Two of the early independent software adverts appeared in the P.C.N. of the 27th May. They were for an Oric Symbolic Disassembler, available from Crunch Computer Systems of Swindon for 7.50 (does it survive today?) and the inevitable 50 Games from Cascade for 9.95. In the same issue, however, there were reviews of Death Satellite from A & F, Othello and Awari from Kenema, Oric Trek from Salamander, and Multigames from Tansoft. And the conclusion? - At least Awari LOADs !!

Indeed during May, 1983 criticism had been mounting of the tape loading system. Oric responded by sacking its Tansoft tape duplicators and distributors, Cosma Sales in Witney. Paul Johnson was reported as blaming Cosma for the tens of thousands of cassettes that wouldn't load. Cosma rather sensibly blamed the machine. Personal Computer News of the 27th May quoted Dr. Johnson:

"It's all off with Cosma. There was a technical problem with the tapes that seemed to be quite widespread, and people started saying there was something wrong with the Oric cassette system. But we're using a system that's been in use for years. The problem is purely down to the quality of the duplication. Chain stores have been sending back thousands of cassettes over the last few weeks."
Here then was the root of that well remembered software shortage in the shops. Back to Dr. J.:

"Tansoft is going to do its own distribution, and Oric dealers will have to make the running themselves if they want software. Smiths and Laskys will be able to come to Tansoft for Oric branded software."
That they didn't is well recorded.

Finally in that heady month, it was reported that the 16k Oric-1 was now shipping for 129.95.

The Oric-1 was almost immediately exported to France, a country which was to prove a very successful market. On the 29th June, 1983, a contract was signed with A.S.N. making them the exclusive distributors in France on the basis of 4,000 machines per month paid for on delivery; they adopted the name 'Oric France'. Their managing director, Denis Taieb was interviewed in Megaherz magazine:

"In 1981 we looked for a French product to distribute, without success. So we looked in Great Britain, a country that was becoming an example to Europe. We spent 6 months analysing products there, and in August 1982 we started talking with Oric. The proposed quality, technical standards and performance of their machine impressed us. The company's manufacturing, financial and marketing plans were well thought out. They envisaged producing 50 to 60,000 machines in the year to the 30th June, 1983, but in fact the total was 130,000... Oric's initial policy was to avoid an exclusive deal, since they knew no-one in France. That situation lasted for 5 months, during which we sold 10,000 machines, and the other importers together a quarter of that number. So at the end of June we asked Oric to sign an exclusive deal, and we now have a contract for 5 years."
And to anticipate the future of our story, in March, 1983 a certain Fabrice Broche bought his Oric-1 and started to disassemble the ROM.....


Oric's Cambridge Science Park premises


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