Chapter 4

All's well that ends well


The French 'Videor' Award


And in truth Oric were in trouble. It was at this point that Edenspring Investments (personified by Barry Muncaster) stepped in with a proposed cash injection of 2.25 million initially, with a commitment of up to 5.85 million - on condition that Oric achieved pre-tax profits of 2 million for the two years ending June 30th, 1985. Oric chairman John Tullis was reportedly confident that the deal would secure Oric's future. "The agreement provides a capital base for the expansion of the company over the next 12 months", he said. But Peter Jones, joint managing director of Edenspring commented that, "Oric's cash requirements are, well, quite pressing".

Not that this subdued Oric Owner Issue 4, October/ November 1983, spoke of a company called M.C.P. releasing a joystick interface including its own speech synthesiser, and planning to produce a digitiser, an RS232 interface, and a multichannel analogue/digital converter. Allan Castle maintained the heady atmosphere:

"Sales are expected to reach 350,000 in the first year, a 600% increase on initial projections. Oric exports in large quantities to France and other European countries, and has recently set up joint ventures in Japan and Singapore to cover the Asian and Australasian markets."
Japan? What had occurred was that in June Oric had formed a new company (on paper at least) called Oric Japan, half owned by Oric and half by a consortium including one of Oric's far eastern manufacturers and Cosmic, a Japanese retail chain. Although they planned to, it seems doubtful whether Oric ever got round to developing software using the Japanese Kasna character set! Certainly Oric Japan never was more than a name. Norwegian distributors were, however, appointed, a company called AD Elektronik.

More on the rails, the magazine reviewed a preview copy of 'Author', the MCP40 printer, and the Peach Hicopy printer dump.

October did see a real triumph. The Oric-1 won the Best Home Computer Award in France, and was the top-selling computer there. Excellent software was being written, produced and sold, and undoubtedly at this time the Oric was the Spectrum of France. Unfortunately, though, the French were not buying the enormous numbers of computers that were being sold in the English market. Since the February launch in France, 35,000 Orics had been sold.

In H.C.W. for the 11th October, 1983 there appeared a hint of what was to come:

"Oric is planning changes to its computer to add new BASIC commands and improve reliability. Barry Muncaster would only say no decision had been made on when or whether to introduce it. He did say that two or three software houses had seen samples because Oric were endeavouring to ensure that existing software would not be affected. Oric sales boss Peter Harding said that the company would be launching a new computer in late spring. He said 'It's going to be the Electron-Commodore 64 basher'."
In the same issue was a lengthy interview with Paul Kaufman:

"I was a programmer at Shell - I just bought a Microtan computer from Tangerine as a hobby. One day I went to a computer fair and met someone from Tangerine - I told them their customer support was appalling. A few weeks later they rang me up and offered me a job."
Paul added some personal recollections:

"When Tansoft separated from Tangerine and became a company in its own right, there was an election to decide who the directors should be. I became one of the directors, and the other is Cathie Burrell, who is in charge of administration and dealer contacts. The business has expanded rapidly - just this month we ve sold 100,000 programs."
By this time Tansoft was using some five freelance programmers, of whom two were only 17 years old. Paul admitted having poached Andy Green from Quicksilva and John Marshall from PSS. No sooner was the interview published than drama struck.

On the 13th October, 1983 (no, a Wednesday!) the factory of Kenure Plastics in Berkshire, where the Oric-1 was manufactured, burnt to the ground. The factory was rebuilt, minus a considerable stock of bits (including 15,000 old ROMs) that went to make up the Oric-1. In the meantime production was said to have restarted within 24 hours in a new factory. On the next day a neighbouring warehouse went up in flames. Police were said to suspect that the arsonist got the wrong place first time round...

It was about this time, too, that Tansoft upped sticks and moved to co-exist with Oric Research at the Techno Park, Cambridge.

At a shareholders meeting on Friday, 18th November, 1983 Edenspring approved the acquisition of Oric for shares. The net effect was that the Oric shareholders (John Tullis, Barry Muncaster, Peter Harding, Paul Johnson, British Car Auctions and IEM Singapore) exchanged their shares for shares in Edenspring, who in return made up to 4 million available to fund expansion.

An Oric press release said it all:

"From its take-over by Edenspring Investments plc and subsequent Over the Counter (OTC) sales of shares, Oric Products International Ltd has raised approximately 4 million in working capital to fund expansion and product diversification. After just ten months' trading to October 1983, the company has shipped 120,000 of its Oric-1 8 bit 16K and 48K microcomputers and is looking at a first year turnover in excess of 10 million: putting Oric in the top league of British home computer makers. In addition to sustaining growth in the volatile home computer market, Oric is broadening its product base into business communications and opto electronic systems which are being developed at its new 11,000 sq. ft. Cambridge R & D centre - already equipped with the latest CAD and test equipment. A substantial press and t.v. campaign is being prepared for the new year for which Oric has appointed KMP Advertising, a Saatchi & Saatchi subsidiary."
Edenspring directors Peter Jones and Nicholas de Savary were appointed directors of Oric.

That same month Brian Howarth launched his well-known Mysterious Adventures series - was he the most prolific Oric programmer ever? - and the Tangerine User Group transformed itself into the Oric Owners User Group. The first issue of their magazine Oric Computing appeared, complete with a type-in adventure entitled Coworth Park Horrors . The magazine was to last for 5 issues only.

Oric Owner issue 5, December/January 1984 was notably silent about the financial crisis; it merely recorded that Fourteen attractive Angels are in the field to support our 1,000 dealer outlets - they were headed by one Marilyn Bell, but did you ever see an Oric Angel?!!

And P.C.N. awarded a Christmas prize of 20 to one G. Kendell of Rugby for this little ditty:

Hark the Oric angels sing
Sitting in an oval ring
We will help, not get you wild,
ROM and Oric reconciled,
V1.1 is here at last; V1.0 will feel the draught
Hear Paul Kaufman set new sights
V1.1 is still not right!
Maybe one day he ll proclaim
This damned ROM is still the same,
cursed by bugs right from the start
the Oric angels must depart,
Hark the Oric angels sing
Glory to our Paul - the King.


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