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View Full Version : ICON computer / 1984-5 vintage



renworm
August 19th, 2003, 07:06 AM
My old school had fun machines called ICONs. I would love to get my hands on one again but as you can imagine searching Google with the term ICON is not at all helpful and I cannot remember at all who the manufacturer is. Anyone remember these machines? Any info at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

carlsson
August 22nd, 2003, 01:47 AM
It seems to be a Unisys machine built specifically for school use in Ontario (woo, 100% match!):

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisys_ICON


To its users, the machine was known as the electronic beaver.

carlsson
August 22nd, 2003, 02:03 AM
By the way, while some of its specs are similar to the Swedish built school computer "Compis" (the 80186 processor, being designed specifically for school usage and cost a fortune to develop for a small market at least), the other parts of the description sounds like a much cooler machine.

Compis was "almost MS/DOS" compatible and offered Comal and Pascal on disk (so no direct programming mode there as well) and monochrome graphics (colour on the more expensive teacher's machine). I can't recall if it had any networking ability or odd features like synthesized speech. While the Compis was declared the official school computer in all of Sweden, it didn't develop much over the years. It was released in 1984/85 but probably some junior high schools were stuck with these beasts even by the mid 90'ties until they could afford something else.

What make the 80x86 series of processors so attractive for custom built computers (in particular educational computers) compared to e.g. 680x0 or Z-80xx? Did Intel have a really good offer to computer manufacturers somewhere in the mid 80'ties, when everyone was lusting for a computer of their own?

I'm a little too ignorant to remember IBM PC list prices and when the first (il)legal clones appeared - Compaq etc, but until the clones appeared in big numbers in the late 80'ties, Intel-based computers began to look affordable.

renworm
August 22nd, 2003, 03:27 PM
Thanks a lot. That's the machine I was looking for, I had no idea it was made for such a small market, and it was UNIX based! No wonder I felt nostalgia for the stupid clunker, since I'm currently trying to learn a UNIX OS.

Classicsat
August 29th, 2003, 08:58 PM
My high-school had a lab of those (20 maybe), most with a monochrome monitor,
some with colour. They were networked with coax of some sort.There was a server callled a Lexicon , and had a dot-matrix printer connected to it, for the class to share.
You had two logins, one would bring you to the command prompt (which was QNX
I was told), the other to a rudimentary GUI. The machines were made by Burroughs.

Sharkonwheels
September 30th, 2008, 10:44 PM
To its users, the machine was known as the electronic beaver.

Too easy..... Tooooooo easy.....


T

carlsson
October 1st, 2008, 12:11 AM
Apparently the Wikipedia entry has been updated since 2003, so it now says bionic beaver. Perhaps the former was a misunderstanding.

Mr.Amiga500
October 1st, 2008, 06:38 AM
Here's a pretty good ICON site (http://www.100megspopup.com/redawa/BIC/BIC3.html), in case anybody's interested.


To its users, the machine was known as the electronic beaver.

I was a user and I never heard anybody call it that. This computer was made to be used by highschool students. Can you imagine the multitude of lame jokes circulating if anybody was stupid enough to give it a nickname like that?


Edit: I see Wikipedia has updated the ICON page since I was last there and added the link I just posted. Oh well.

MikeS
October 1st, 2008, 07:20 AM
Here's a pretty good ICON site (http://www.100megspopup.com/redawa/BIC/BIC3.html), in case anybody's interested.



I was a user and I never heard anybody call it that. This computer was made to be used by highschool students. Can you imagine the multitude of lame jokes circulating if anybody was stupid enough to give it a nickname like that?


Edit: I see Wikipedia has updated the ICON page since I was last there and added the link I just posted. Oh well.
-------------
Well, I remember the 'Bionic Beaver'; can you imagine it being used by high school students and *NOT* getting a nickname like that?

m

Micom 2000
October 1st, 2008, 05:12 PM
At some point in the late 80s or early 90s, there was a shop in Toronto near Gerrard and Parliament which sold old computers just next to one of my favorite thrift shops. They had
a multitude of them, and had perhaps gobbled up the Ont. Dept. of Ed salvage. I was interested but thier prices were inflated. I think they wanted something lke $100 and even an Apple GS was cheaper but out of my price range. I imagine they all went eventually to land-fill and the store soon closed down.

At times I regret not getting one but they were immensely non-compatible to almost all platforms.
Great URL, by the way.

Lawrence

carlsson
October 2nd, 2008, 01:58 AM
they were immensely non-compatible to almost all platforms.
Wasn't that the idea, to manufacture exclusive educational computers with little or no 3rd party market to compete against? At least I've heard that explanation why the Swedish school computer Compis was made to be almost MS-DOS (or CP/M ?) compatible, but not enough to run existing software on it. You had to buy Compis word processors, programming environments and so on.

Druid6900
October 2nd, 2008, 11:22 AM
Wasn't that the idea, to manufacture exclusive educational computers with little or no 3rd party market to compete against? At least I've heard that explanation why the Swedish school computer Compis was made to be almost MS-DOS (or CP/M ?) compatible, but not enough to run existing software on it. You had to buy Compis word processors, programming environments and so on.

No, the idea was to waste a LOT of taxpayer money on a pile of crap unlike anything they would be working on in "the real world", to line someone's pockets and to require (expensive) custom software which rarely worked.

All in all, it followed the idea to the letter.

Just think of it as the INVERSE of the Avro Arrow scenario.

JollyRogers
October 6th, 2008, 06:43 PM
Good grief, these things were still in use my sixth grade year around the turn of the century... We had JUST gotten windows 98 machines in the school, but a lot of my childhood computer classes were spent on ICON machines programming in LOGO and playing Math Maze. The log on screen had either "ICONIX" or "ICON IX" written across it, but everywhere else the computers were refered to as "Unisys Icon" computers. Maybe ICONIX was the name of their flavor of QNX.