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Thread: Most common clones of the 1980s?

  1. #11
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    Speaking of country-specific PC clones, during the second half of 80's Soviet Union manufactured at least two series of XT-compatible computers ES - ES 1840, ES 1841 (might be spelled as EC 1840 and EC 1841), and Iskra (lit. spark, doesn't have anything to do with Sun SPARC) - Iskra 1030, Iskra 1030M, and Iskra 1031. They were fairly popular, mostly as office computers, until early 90's, when Taiwanese made XT and AT clones flooded the market.

    There several interesting differences between these computers and other PC/XT clones:
    - Both used Intel 8086 clone (KR1810VM86) instead of Intel 8088. Supposedly, soviets copied 8086 much earlier than 8088 for military needs.
    - Both had a backplane based design, with processor board, memory boards, CGA, FDC, and HDD controller boards
    - ES 1840 / ES 1841 came with two enclosures - one is the processor module, another - disks module (which included two 5.25" floppy drives, and full height HDD)
    - The CGA implementation on ES series allowed loading user-defined fonts for text modes
    - The CGA implementation on Iskra had two switchable fonts in the ROM. The reason for this is that in the standard soviet KOI-8 character set Cyrillic letters had the same codes as pseudographic symbols in PC character set, and programs that used pseudographics looked ugly. The second (alternative) encoding relocated Cyrillic letters elsewhere.
    - ES 1841 came with a mouse. It was pretty big, and had a thick and not really flexible cable... Therefore colloquially this mouse was called "a rat".

  2. #12
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    In The Netherlands, 'country-specific clones' seems about right.
    I saw a lot of Philips clones, especially in schools and such. And I also saw Tulips quite often in offices.

    But other than that 'anything goes' I suppose. My own PC was a Commodore PC10-III, since I grew up with a C64, and we had an attachment to the Commodore brand, probably like many other people. I also saw Atari PC clones, which were probably popular for similar reasons. Generic Taiwanese clones also seemed to do well, probably mostly because PCs were stupid expensive compared to the home computers of the day, so people were always looking for a bargain.
    But Amstrad/Schneider or Olivetti, I rarely saw those. Tandy not at all. Many shops did have their own brand though. Either it was really their own brand, or they had an (exclusive?) deal with a manufacturer.
    Didn't really see Compaq either, until later (probably in the 90s).

  3. #13
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    Here in Germany, there was Commodore PC I-III, Atari PC 1 and 3 (much less than Commodore), Zenith, Compaq, Tulip, Olivetti M24/M19/M240 (mostly in business use as it was expensive) and Amstrad/Schneider PCW-Series, and Schneider Euro-PC. For UK you may add Sinclair PC-200. For french schools you can add Logabax Persona 1600, which is a brown colored and renamed M24.

  4. #14

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    The PC/XT clones actually owned back in the day by my friends and family were a Tandy 1000, CompuAdd 810, AT&T PC6300, and some Emerson with mismatched-color drive faceplates (from the factory!). Also at school there was a Leading Edge Model D and a Zenith. I had heard about the Amstrad PC1512 but still to this day I've never seen one in person.

  5. #15
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    In New Zealand it was mainly Compaq systems for defense use. We had a Deskpro that was used as part of the bomb scoring system at the local weapons range.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

  6. #16

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    In the UK the Amstrad PC1512/1640 is without doubt one of the most common systems I've found. They are everywhere. Second most common is the generic XT-Clone with an ST225 HDD. But NOT in a flip-top case, never seen one of these in the UK. In the '90s its easy Dell and Gateway. However this is based on "old junk" in the early 2000's and "Ultra rare Vintage" today. There must be some correlation.

    AT&T and Leading Edge are rare here, but not unheard of. Never really see Tandy PCs and NCR. Olivetti are so-so.

    Tandon and AST were pretty common.

    Compaq seems to be very common here. Of the late '80s probably the 386s (an SX16 or 20Mhz). Although most Compaq's I've found are from the early '90s. I would think the Compaq portable *may* fit best selling. Perhaps it would in '83, '84, but may be dwarfed by sales figures of a Taiwanese clone in the late '80s.

    In adverts in PC Mag and Infoworld, Northgate and Everex seem to be everywhere. I don't know if that translates into sales though.

    This is a list of PC Specs year by year based on Adverts. It might help, but a quick glance though would turn up "Taiwanese clone".

    Hope this helps.
    Looking for: OMTI SMS Scientific Micro Systems 8610 or 8627 ESDI ISA drive controller, May also be branded Core HC, Please PM me if you want to part with one.

  7. #17

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    It may be because I live in a college town...and most that i've seen were used at the university...but Zenith Data Systems seemed to have a pretty strong foothold here for the PC clone market. I've ran across several units locally. They made some pretty high-quality clones, including my personal favorite, the Z-158.

  8. #18
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    I seem to recall lthat Zenith equipped IRS field agents with portables and did a brisk business with the US military in the mid 80s, so it depends where you were at the time. IIRC, ZDS pretty much ignored the consumer market then. Probably not a good idea in the long run.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I seem to recall lthat Zenith equipped IRS field agents with portables and did a brisk business with the US military in the mid 80s, so it depends where you were at the time. IIRC, ZDS pretty much ignored the consumer market then. Probably not a good idea in the long run.
    Yup, that was the Z-151. I've been wanting one for my collection since they're Vadem-manufactured and they're apparently super common but i've had a hard time finding one in good shape.

  10. #20

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    The Kaypro XT was very popular.

    I had a Leading Edge Model M- one of the first clones with an 8MHz 8088/8087. There were incompatibilities, the 8087 coprocessor interface was different enough that it failed the "presence" test used by RM Fortran-77. I had to patch the compiler and Library routine for them to work with it. Disassembled and ran the compiler under Debug to find the tests. Got the compiler to run, just to have the .exe's to refuse to run. Then disassembled the library startup routines, rewrote them. Also had a Zenith Z-241 6MHz 80286, "anything but a clone"- had a passive backplane and proprietary processor/memory bus. I had to mount the second fan in it to keep it cool, the dealer refused to believe the computer overheated. I mounted it myself, solved lock-up problems.

    The "Columbia" was the first real clone as I recall, and just "googled" it.

    At work, we bought mostly Compaq computers. I had a Compaq 286 with a Systolic Systems array processor board in it. It was "about" 1 MFlop when getting enough data through the vector library. It was 16-Bit ISA bus.
    Last edited by BrianS; January 14th, 2018 at 02:45 PM.

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