Chapter 10


Fabrice Broche

>From now the scene shifts to France. In August, 1985 Oric International (Eureka had adopted the old name) employed Fabrice Broche (see Ch. 1) and Dennis Sebbag to complete a new Disc Operating System for the Oric, called Sedoric.

There was a lot of talk of a subsidiary company being set up in England, but it never happened. In September, 1985 Oric announced that Dudley Langmead Enterprises of Hitchin were to be the official U.K. agents - by November that year the deal had fallen through.

A 'French' Atmos duly appeared, put together in the Normandy factory. Théoric paid a visit to Etouvy, near Vire that September:

"ATV Electronique have 41 employees, mostly female. Production is not over-automated, enabling the company to switch lines from day to day. Jean-Claude Talar was there, smiling because a Yugoslav company had just purchased a licence to make 5,000 machines. 120,000 Orics had been sold in France, he estimated, and there was potential for at least a further 50,000, an optimism justified by the 2,000 Atmos machines sold in just three weeks. And the factory would operate the after-sales service, which would be significantly more efficient than A.S.N. had been. To all who thought the Oric dead, we say that there are now people who are determined to restore the Oric to its rightful market position."
Shades of Bruce Everiss!

The revamped machine had some badly needed tweaks, notably a transistor which cured the unreliability of the cassette interface, and a chip to amplify the bus signal strength of the clock output. It also had a French specific monitor output. The verdict? Leading computer mag Tilt thought its future uncertain -

"The recent innovations may perhaps give the Atmos a second wind, but it remains an outsider."
Meanwhile, Oric International had decided to press ahead with the Stratos - except that A.S.N. had registered the name as a trade mark of their own! - but totally to revamp it to make it specific to the French Minitel on-line network - a variant of Prestel, but free to French phone subscribers, and therefore with over a million terminals in French homes. In November 1985 Fabrice Broche started work on what was, not surprisingly, now to be called the 'Telestrat'. He had finished Sedoric, which was duly launched that autumn to wholly justified approval and praise. It augured well for the long-delayed Stratos. The Microdisc was re-released in an improved form, with a heat sink and on/off switch added to the power unit.

In its October/November editorial Théoric could not resist a final swipe at A.S.N.:

"Oric is now well on its way back, with excellent new software and hardware being released. In parallel with this, A.S.N., ex-importer for Oric is playing the politics of the ostrich in affirming that Oric France is disconnected and that no more Orics are being made. That ignores the efforts of Eureka which is doing all it can to assure the future of Oric. On the other hand A.S.N. ('Oric France') has said it will continue to serve its existing clients. Don't hesitate to contact them, even harass them, if the Oric you bought from them has a fault!"
The final Winter 1985 issue of Micr'Oric confirmed A.S.N.'s departure from the Oric scene. Adverts were for the Goldstar MSX and electrical components, although to be fair there was still a full Oric Atmos components and software order form. There was not a single mention of the Stratos. Jean Taieb (yes, another brother!) was interviewed:

"A.S.N. always supported Oric Products International. We twice saved it from receivership in August and October 1984 by massive buying of their stocks. But the price war in England was so great that the financiers began to doubt the longevity of the company. Oric wasn t the only victim; Acorn and Prism went into receivership, and Sinclair is in real difficulties."
And of the attacks against A.S.N. in Théoric and Hebdogiciel:

"They do not bother us. We have never attacked others; these attacks only emphasise our own competence and market position. Our purpose is always to satisfy our clientele, and it is our success in that that has prompted these comments by others. It's curious that each time we are attacked our sales rise considerably and we struggle to meet the increased demand."
The last word, as usual, came from Théoric:

"A.S.N. is still selling the Atmos, for 890 francs. What is rather less interesting is the offer to part-exchange your old computer for a Goldstar MSX. The prices they ask are so unrealistic that we don't dare to print them..."
The vacuum in the English market was now filled in part by F.G.C., Ken Smalldon's enterprise started back in February, 1985 as Oric crashed, and by O.J. Software, who first advertised in October, 1985.

The major event of November was the release of Sedoric, the new disc operating system for the Atmos and Microdrive. It gives pause for thought to imagine where we would all be today without this DOS, which still has the best performance of any home computer DOS. We should be eternally grateful for the efforts of Talar and Fabrice Broche.

The New Year of 1986 saw the Telestrat announced in France - though it was to prove as premature as the old Oric's Microdisc pronouncements! But appear it did, at least for review, and it received a reasonably enthusiastic welcome in the French press. It was described rightly as an original machine, dedicated to communication, and coming complete with a double-sided 3" drive, eleven input/output ports, compiled BASIC, and the necessary software to run a Minitel board. And Eureka echoed a long-forgotten sales pitch when they announced that the machine was aimed at the professional, such as local shops which could provide a catalogue and ordering service via Minitel, or offices who could use it to send and receive messages and make appointments . Remember Paul Johnson's hopes in February, 1983?

And as proof again that the Atmos did reach other parts, that January a German firm, MSE of Düsseldorf, announced a 5.25" drive for the machine. TRAN, the French disc drive manufacturer, announced in March, 1986 that it was to produce an add-on card for the Atmos and their drive which would convert the Oric into a fully compatible P.C.! This, commented Théoric wryly, 'really would breathe new life into the Atmos'.

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