This FAQ is designed to provide information on the computers developed by Tangerine and Oric Products. It is constantly being updated. In order to improve this FAQ, your help is required. Please e-mail the maintainer with any information or corrections you may have. The layout is unashamedly based on the Atari 2600/7800 FAQ. Imitation is the sincerist form of flattery! Questions without a link (not underlined) are not available yet.
What is an Oric?
What Usenet groups exist to discuss the Oric?
What is the comp.sys.oric charter?
What is the comp.sys.oric etiquette?
Is there a mailing list for discussion of all things Oric?
Is there any place to talk Oric in real time?
Are there any software lists?
What magazines exist/have existed for the Oric?
What books can I get for the Oric?
Were there any Oric TV adverts?
What does 'Oric' mean?
What happened to Tangerine & Oric?
Whatever happened to.......?
Where can I find software for the Oric?
How do I get hold of program instructions?
My tape programs won't load, what can I do?
How do I transfer my programs to PC?
I am confused by all the various Oric DOS's that exist, help!
What are the best games for the Oric?
What is the most common and most rare software?
What software was promised but never released?
What games take advantage of joystick interfaces?
What programs are compatible with what machine?
Are any new programs available?
I'm interested in programming the Oric, what programmers resources are available?
Has anyone managed to do one screen of Damsel In Distress, let alone finish the game without cheating?
I've seen pictures of a Dungeon Master style game for the Oric, is it available?
What are the different Oric models?
What clones exist?
How many Orics were made?
Are there any emulators for the Oric?
Where can I get real Oric computers?
What hardware peripherals were produced?
What hardware and peripherals were in the pipeline, but never released?
I've got an Oric up and running, but the picture is poor, help!
Where can I get my Oric fixed?
How do I turn the sound down?
What power supply does the Oric need?
The computer won't boot properly.
What are the specifications for the Oric machines?
What is the extra 16K of RAM? What does it do?
Where can I get information on the pin-outs of the various ports?
How big can the programs be?
Acknowledgements of thanks.
Q: The Maintainer
The current (and so far only) maintainer of this FAQ is Jim Groom. Information in this FAQ has come from a wide variety of sources, magazines, interviews, all of you out there, technical articles, books and hearsay. The information here is given in good faith and although the intention is to provide facts, I accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies it contains. You should be particularly aware that 'fiddling-around-under-the-lid' involves a degree of risk of damage - to your equipment and possibly to yourself. Do not attempt anything that is outside of your capabilities unless you are prepared for possible loss. That said, this FAQ aims to maintain a high level of quality and accuracy.
6 June 2004
Two updates to news of people from Oric history. Sadly, it reveals that Peter Harding and Kester Cranswick have died.
26 July 2002
The name of the Yugoslav manufacturer/assembler of Oric's is revealed as Avtotehna.
23 July 2002
A new section was added, "What
is the extra 16K of RAM? What does it do?" which explains that
the Oric actually has 16K more RAM than it says on the box. Yes, a 48K
Oric actually has 64K of RAM and yes, you can use it! This replaces the
completely erroneous information on overlay memory which existed before.
Pravetz 8D information updated with info from DBug.
Some more minor mistakes have been corrected, links repaired etc.
Q: Where can I find the latest version of this
The following URL should point you in the right direction:
Q: What is an Oric?
Oric Products International Ltd. was the company which launched the Oric family of 8 bit computers, back in 1983. The first one was the Oric-1 computer, powered by a 6502 processor and an extended 16K Basic, with sounds, colour graphics, printer port, and 16 or 48 K ram (plus an extra 16 K ram which you do not normally see. This RAM is very interesting! See the section on overlay RAM for more details). Programs were stored on audio tapes. Then followed the Atmos, with a better keyboard and debugged Basic, along with an optional Microdisc controller (3" disks). The latest computer, intended to be named Stratos, was born in France after the English company's financial problems, under the TeleStrat name. For a complete story, I recommend you read Jonathan Haworth's excellent book: "Oric, The Story So Far..." available at Oric World.
"To provide a forum for the discussion of every Oric-related subject: the Oric1, Atmos and Telestrat computers, peripherals, one of the seven disk operating systems available, emulators, programming techniques, games, clubs, magazines, local events... The group will not be moderated."
This is the place to come to ask questions on ANY Oric related question you may have.
Q: What is the comp.sys.oric etiquette?
When posting to the comp.sys.oric newsgroup, there are a few things you should bear in mind.
1. Firstly, the accepted language of the group is English. No one will mind if you post messages in any other language, but there will usually be a flurry of requests for translations into English and translations by others that may misrepresent what you said. So if you can post in English, it is recommended that you do. If you can't post in English, please do post your message in your own language! We want to hear what you've got to say even if we have to do our own translations!
2. Please only post messages in plain text. Do not use HTML.
3. Please do not post binaries or attachments to the group. If you have a file that you want to share, place it in some web space and send a message with an appropriate hyper link.
Q: Is there a mailing list for discussion of
all things Oric?
Yes, there is. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message in the body text:
join oric your.e-mail@address
replacing your.e-mail@address with your real e-mail address.
Q: Is there any place to talk Oric in real
Yes, there are a few ways you can do this. Firstly, a number of Oric users use ICQ. If you are familiar with this system of contact, look out for the ICQ numbers of other Oric users. Secondly, there is an IRC group at Oric International. The information you need for you IRC program in order to connect is:
You can see who is currently connected to the chat server, from the Oric International website. ATMOS is a bot, so don't try talking to it! It is used to keep the channel open when no real people are there.
Q: Are there any software lists?
Yes. There are a few now:
The Reluctant Dragon has a software list here and an adventure game list here.
Muso also maintains his own lists here. He has three for you to choose from, Commercial Titles, Type-Ins (listings from magazines, etc.) and Other Software.
Defence Force has a good list of Oric books.
There is a project going on at Oric International to produce a more detailed database of Oric software.
Q: What magazines exist/have existed for the
The newest magazine to be produced for the Oric is Rhetoric. It is produced in the UK by a group of Oric fans. Contact Simon, the editor at email@example.com or write to:
c/o Simon Ullyatt
32 Peter Paine Close,
The longest running Oric magazine was Oric User Monthly, which released its final issue (145) in September 1999. Well done to Dave and all his regular contributors for years of sterling service! Thank-you!
The final Oric magazine still in existance is the CEO-MAG produced by Club Europe Oric. the magazine produces articles in a number of languages, mainly French and English.
A large number of magazines and newsletters have fallen by the wayside over the years. The term 'Professional' below means that the magazine was, shall we say, a 'commercially published' magazine rather than a fanzine.
From the UK:
Oric Computing (professional) by Tangerine User Group. Follow up to TUG. (5 Issues).
Oric Owner (professional) by Tansoft. Followed on from the Tansoft Gazette. (10 Issues).
I.O.U. by the Independent Oric User Group. (23 Issues).
Your Oric (8 Issues).
Micr'Oric (professional) by ASN (official Oric importers). (10 Issues).
Theoric (professional) by Soracom (37 Issues).
Club Disc Oric Bulletin (8 Issues).
JEO-MAG by Club Europe Oric (? Issues).
There may be more - I need your help there, French chums!
For the Microtan 65, there were two magazines, TUG of the Tangerine User Group (36 Issues) and the Tansoft Gazette by Tansoft (8 Issues).
Q: What books can I get for the Oric?
A list of books for the Oric is maintained in Excel and Ability spreadsheet compatible formats at The Reluctant Dragon, on the downloads page. All British produced books are believed to have been recorded, but the list of French and other nations books is not complete. A section on books can be found at Defence Force. This site is highly recommended. It includes scans of the book covers, a brief synopsis of the book and some of the books are available to download.
Q: Were there any Oric TV adverts?
Yes, and a copy was found in April 2002. You can find it on the net at Will's 80's TV Ads page. Many thanks to Peter Reynolds and Will Datsun for that.
Q: What does 'Oric' mean?
There was a lot of speculation in the press when the Oric came out about this. Some thought it was named after the plastic-box-with-lights in called Orac from the BBC TV series 'Blakes 7'. The truth (according to Paul Kaufman, who worked for Tangerine, Oric and Tansoft in the early years) was that the company tried to come up with a name by juggling the letters of the word 'micro'. The best they could do was 'oric' (must have lost the 'm' under the table somewhere) and the name stuck.
From Steve Marshall comes the following: "I have a theory about the red 'tick' on the Atmos. I reckon it was put there for when people ask where the 'M' is (see the story above about the missing M). Stick a mirror on the top of the Oric logo and the 'M' is revealed !" You need to get out more Steve!
Q: What happened to Tangerine and Oric?
Tangerine (formed in 1979) originally produced the Microtan 65 computer, ancestor of the Oric 1. There was also a business machine called the Tigress. In 1982, they formed Oric Products International Ltd to produce a new micro. Tangerine remained as the research and development arm of the group until dissolved (what year anyone?). Oric were taken over by Edenspring Investments in November 1983, a move which raised a much-needed £4 million of extra capital (partly from what Edenspring paid and partly through sales of shares). Oric went into receivership in February 1985. Ownership of the company then moved to France (but that part of the story is very complicated - I'll get my head round it one day!) going bust again in December 1987. It traded on in the hands of the receiver until December 1988, a pale shadow of its former self. For more details, you should read 'Oric - The Story So Far' by Jonathan Haworth. An online version is available at 'Oric World', where you can also find details of how to obtain a paper copy.
Q: Whatever happened to.......?
If you know the fates of any of the old Oric crew, then let me know. Of particular interest are Dr Paul Johnson, Peter Halford, Andy Brown, Chris Shaw, John Tullis, Cathie Burrell, any of the 'Oric Angels' and Carolyn Grunewald, but info on anyone from the Oric World would be relevant.
Barry Muncaster - Founder of Tangerine and Oric
Products and one of its directors, till the end of the UK company.
Barry is alive and well and has returned to the UK after spending a few years in the USA working as a senior person in the Biotechnology industry.
Sources: Jon Haworth, Search of "Barry Muncaster" using the Google search engine. Date: May 2001.
Peter Harding - Peter was Sales Director at Oric Products and announced the launch of the Oric1 with the quote "We're going to beat Clive Sinclair by offering much more for much less money".
Sadly, Peter died in Spring 2004, after a battle against Motor Neurone Disease.
Sources: Peter's family. Date: April 2004.
Bruce Everiss - Head of Tansoft near the end of its
Bruce is now working for Codemasters as Head of Communications (www.codemasters.com). He also runs the All Formats Computer Fairs which appear all over the country (see www.afm96.co.uk for more details).
Source: Bruce Everiss. Date: August 2000.
Paul Kaufman - Involved with Tangerine, Oric and
Tansoft and co-founder of Orpheus.
Paul seemed to be everywhere in the Oric world back in 1983 and 1984! In 2000 he was European Director of LANSource Technologies. All the evidence points to him being the crazed character on the front of the Rat Splat cassette!
Sources: Internet Date: February 2000.
Geoff Phillips - Oric programmer and author.
Geoff wrote several programs for Tansoft, including Oric 1 and Atmos Welcome tapes, Multigames 1, House Of Death, Zodiac, Oric Munch, Oric BASE, Oric CALC and the Linkword Language series. After Tansoft, he was one of the founder members of software house Orpheus and wrote Trouble In Store for them. He also wrote the excellent "Oric Atmos & Oric 1 Graphics and Machine Code Techniques" book and had a number of articles published in Oric Owner magazine. In 2002 he was still a software engineer and has a website, well worth looking at. He can occasionally be found making posts on comp.sys.oric.
Sources: Geoff's website and Geoff!. Date: July 2002.
John Marshall - Oric Programmer - Rat Splat &
John moved to the USA eventually. By 2001 he was back in the UK and met up with Geoff Phillips and Paul Kaufman at their old watering hole when they all worked for Orpheus.
Sources: John Marshall via e-mail Date: December 2001.
Kester Cranswick - Editor of Oric Owner.
Kester edited issues 7 and 8 before departing, a factor which seems to have caused a small amount of chaos in the production of issue 9. At some point he appears to have moved to Australia to become an IT journalist. He died of cancer in 1996 aged just 37. The Kester Cranswick Lifetime Achievement Award is an Australian IT writers award named after him.
Sources: Steve Marshall, internet search for Kester Cranswick Date: April 2004.
Q: Where can I find software for the Oric?
There are a number of websites out there with stuff available. New software is produced by the CEO and Rhetoric at regular intervals. A number of individual programmers are also releasing stuff.
Q: How do I get hold of program instructions?
There is no general resource available as yet. There are a few guides for certain games out there, such as Oric Trek. A request to comp.sys.oric is your best bet. Steve Marshall has some inlays and instructions available.
Q: My tape programs won't load, what can I do?
Most original tapes for the Oric are now very old and never designed to last this long. It is hardly surprising that many tapes are now difficult to load. The Oric was notorious for being a fussy loader. Having said that, there are still quite a few things you can do to try and resurrect your tapes. Firstly, see if you can find a tape that will load - why not save a short program to tape and then reload it? If you can do this, it confirms that your computer, tape recorder and lead are all working ok. Once you've confirmed the hardware is working ok, put the non-loading cassette back in the player and try again. If it doesn't work, try altering the volume. Increase it a little, then try loading again. Repeat this until the program either loads or you reach maximum volume. If this doesn't work, try decreasing the volume. If that doesn't work, you need to try and alter the azimuth setting of the tape head. The play head of the cassette recorder has a little screw that can be adjusted to alter the angle of the head against the tape. If it isn't in the right position, the program won't load. Take the tape out of the machine and remove the cassette lead to the Oric. Lift up the lid which protects the tape while it's playing and press play. The tape head will be thrust forward and you should be able to see it. There should be a small hole in the casing just behind the play head that is just big enough to insert a small screw driver (usually Philips/crosshead type). If you can see this, try reaching it with a screwdriver. If you can, we can go on to the next step. Some computer tape recorders have this screw fully exposed when the play head is forward, so there is no hole to find. Now press stop to retract the head, and place the tape in the machine. Turn down the volume to something you can bear and press play. Wait for the noise of the program to blare out of the speaker. Insert the screwdriver into the hole and locate the screw. Now turn the screw gently one way. You should hear the pitch of the sound coming out of the speakers alter. Turn the screw the other way and it will change again. You will notice that sometimes the sound is low -pitched, dull or bassy (sounding like it is coming from another room, for example), sometimes it is high pitched and shrill. You want to try and get the sound as high pitched as you can - this is the optimum head setting for the Oric. Also, if you have treble controls on your tape unit, you want to increase the treble. After adjusting the azimuth, try connecting everything up and try loading that tape again. If it doesn't work, go through the volume control routine again. If it doesn't work after that, put the tape away for a few months and try again - this sometimes works! One final tip - make sure you are using the right computer! A program that is compatible for the Oric 1 might not work on the Atmos and vice versa. Check the label on the tape and ensure you are using a compatible machine.
Q: How do I transfer my programs to PC?
The best advice is given in the HTML manual that comes with the Oric emulator, Euphoric. This is available from Oric World. I must admit that I have had no luck transfering software using soundcards. I have not tried the parallel cable, but will one day. If you have a 3.5 inch disc system with your Oric, then transfer is easy using the readdsk program, available again from Oric World, look under the Tools section.
original DOS from Oric, now in release 1.13
BDDOS, exclusive to the Byte Drive 500
Cumana Dos 1.0, exclusive to the Cumana drive
Cumana Super2 DOS, same instruction set but compatible with any drives
Opelco ROMDOS, same as Oric Dos
Opelco RANDOS, as before but with random file access added
FT-DOS, exclusive to the Jasmin drive
Sedoric, one of the best 8 bit home computer DOS,
Stratsed, the Sedoric equivalent for the Telestrat
Sedoric and Stratsed feature a multitude of commands (without the need for the '!' prefix), an extended Basic, sequential files and direct files. They are the only ones that you are recommended to use (Sedoric for the Oric-1/Atmos, Stratsed for the Telestrat). An online version of the manual for SEDORIC 2 is available here in English. A French version is available at Defence Force.
Shortsed is a mini-set of Sedoric, I think, that
enables you to get a disc working of programs working without having to
use the full Sedoric disc.
Steve Marshall thinks there may have been a system called XLDOS. Anyone know any more?
Q: What are the best games for the Oric?
Always a very subjective topic. For arcade fans I recommend Manic Miner by Software Projects, Rat Splat and Insect Insanity by Tansoft, Xenon 1 by IJK and Magnetix, Zebulon and Zip'n'Zap by Twilighte for starters. For Role Players, try Tyrann by No Mans Land and Le Fer D'Amnukor (Tyrann 2) by Norsoft. For adventurers, any of the Mysterious Adventures series, Level 9 series, Pinforic (use it to play Infocom adventures) and Krystal Worlds by Mirage should keep you interested. There are many more, but a lot of Oric software is, being diplomatic, distinctly primitive.
Q: What is the most common and the most rare
Some of the most common software includes the Oric and Oric Atmos Welcome tapes, Loki by Joe The Lion, Xenon 1 by IJK and possibly Forth by Tansoft as this was given away with early 48K Oric 1's. There is a lot of rare stuff. I have a copy of Leopard Lord by Kayde (doesn't load, shame). Other rare titles include The Castle by Bug Byte and Tevrogs Kingdom by Tevward Microtech. Anyone got Dreadnought Disaster?
A Yugoslavian contact mentioned some games from there. Although exact names and companies were not mentioned, he remembers Tetris (an excellent version), Break Out, Poker, text and graphic adventures. Most arcade games were of the Invaders/Galaxians ilk. There were also utilities and educational programs.
Q: What software was promised but never
Zodiac 2: By Geoff Phillips, this was to be a machine code follow up to his BASIC adventure program Zodiac (released by Tansoft). The project never advanced beyond the design stage. It would have featured an assembler adventure parser, which Geoff had sketched out and partially designed which had improved sentence syntax compared to his earlier adventure programs. Source: Geoff Phillips.
Midwinter / After The Fire / Beyond The Infinite: These were three adventures in the Channel 8 / Digital Fantasia, Mysterious Adventures series (remember Waxworks, Wizard of Akyrz, Golden Baton et al?). These were planned, but never written for the Oric and I don't think they made it onto any other formats either.
Harridges by Tansoft: Never released under that name or by that software company. It became Trouble In Store by Orpheus.
Insect Insanity by Tansoft: Never released by Tansoft, this was the follow up to Rat Splat. Fortunately the program survived and it was released by Oric User Monthly's software label in the early nineties.
Q: What games take advantage of joystick
There were some programmable joystick interfaces which claimed to work with any game. IJK produced an Interface which worked with many of their games. PASE joystick controls were an option in a few games. More details as you give me them. There is also the excellent Shoot Again! website which describes how to patch many games for use with joystick.
Q: What programs are compatible with what
Microtan 65 software will only work on the Microtan 65. Most early Oric 1 stuff required modification to work with the Atmos. Some companies went bust before the Atmos was released or decided not to convert their older or poorer programs. These programs are best used on an Oric-1 to avoid crashes/weird affects. After the Atmos was released most programs will run on either machine quite happily. A few later programs are Atmos only. Telestrat software works only on the Telestrat, but the Telestrat could be made to emulate an Oric 1 or Atmos using a plug in cartridge, thus maintaining compatibility. More details as I get them. Euphoric can be run as either an Oric 1, Atmos or Telestrat, so you shouldn't have any problems there. Microtan 65 emulators are also available.
Q: Are any new programs available?
Yes they are. Twilighte seemed to be the only person producing high quality software in the 90's with such classics as Sonix (music creator), Magnetix, Zip 'n' Zap, Zebulon and more. At the time of writing (July 2002) he is working on an Oric version of "Times Of Lore" by Origin. Several other programmers have since appeared working either seperately or more recently they have been joining together. Dbug's work has mainly concentrated on pushing the boundaries of what is possible and he has introduced many new ideas to the Oric community. He has produced some fantastic Oric demos. The latest Oric demos have been amazing demonstrations of the what the machine can do and these have been the collaborative work of several people, especially DBug, Twilighte and Jede. Several other programmers have also been active, at all levels of ability, with me at the bottom, who has only just worked out how to plot a character ons creen using machine code.
At the time of writing, a new programmer has appeared from nowhere and is working on a conversion of Xenon 1 by IJK for the PC! This 're-make' is a new and interesting development in the Oric world, something that has been popular with ZX Specrum games for quite a while.
Q: I'm interested in programming the Oric,
what programmers resources are available?
Your'e in luck, there is quite a bit! Between the following sites, you should be able to get a fair idea of whats going on.
Oric World - Useful utilities and documentation.
Swedish Oric Website has an online copy of the Oric 1 manual.
Twilighte - Extensive hardware guide and useful programming insights.
Geoff Phillips' Homepage - A full transcription of his book, Advanced Graphics and Machine Code Techniques.
Defence Force - Dbug is an extremely capable programmer. He has quite a few programming tips here, and some useful books to download.
There are plenty of other snippets out there too.
Q: Has anyone managed to do one screen of Damsel
In Distress, let alone finish the game, without cheating?
Well I haven't. Over to you Graeme Burton! I am writing this in July 2002 and I STILL have not finished one screen!
Q: I've seen pictures of an excellent
Dungeon Master style game for the Oric, is it available?
That would be Dbugs program. Sadly it isn't anywhere near finished and probably never will be. But, if we bully him enough, who knows ;-).
Q: What are the different Oric models?
Including Tangerine's machine we have:
1. Tangerine Microtan 65
2. Oric 1 (the last batch had a coloured Oric logo on the case -red, blue and green, earlier models were three tone grey).
3. Oric Atmos
3a. Oric Atmos (French model. The differences over the English model were -
4. Oric Stratos (IQ164)
The Stratos never really made it, the company going into receivership the day after its launch. The models that were displayed at this time are believed to have been empty cases. If anyone has one, let me know.
5. Oric Telestrat
The Telestrat was what the French did with the Stratos - awesome.
Q: How Many Orics Were Made?
Quite a few. I have no idea of the exact number. They were available from most high street chains in the UK (my first Oric 1 48K was from Rumbelows in Birmingham). According to a press release from Oric dated 19th October 1983 and published in Oric Computing Issue 1, Rumbelows had ordered 10,000 Oric 1 48K's and Comet had ordered 5,000 Oric's and 1500 printers (MCP-40's). Although nowhere near as common as machinces such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, they are not as rare as many eBay sellers would have you believe!
Q: What clones exist?
A Yugoslavian company (believed to be Avtotehna, based in Ljubljana) obtained a licence to make 5000 machines. Machines were made, but whether they were under license or not is not known in any detail. It is thought that they assembled parts shipped from the UK. I have a contact in Yugoslavia who says there were several in his village and about 30 in a school in the next village. This may suggest that more than 5000 were made. They were known as the Oric Nova 64 and were Atmos based (exact appearance and internal details unknown).
The specifications of the Yugoslavian machine are as follows (as reported by my contact from the Yugoslavian manual):
TECHNICAL DATA ABOUT MICROCOMPUTER "ORIC NOVA 64":
ROM: 16 Kbit
RAM: 64 Kbit
Keyboard: Profesional QWERTY keyboard.
Maximum resolution: 200 x 240 pixels
Text resolution: 28 x 40 characters
Sound: 15Hz - 62 KHz (7 Octaves) 3 channels + 4 sound effects (ZAP, PING, SHOOT, EXPLODE) via sound amplifier.
BASIC: Microsoft BASIC V1.1
Dimensions : 280 x 175 x 52 mm
Weight: 1.1 KG
Connectors: Power, Expansion, Centronics Parallel printer port, Tape (DIN), RGB, UHF.
IN 220V (+10;-15 %); 50 Hz.
OUT 7V DC
BRUM 50 mV IN 2.5 A
Dimensions: 310 x 125 x 75 mm
Weight: 1.25 kg
The supply unit had space and connectors for an optional floppy disc controller connected via the expansion port. Disc drive specified was 3.5", double sided with 400K capacity per side. There was a Yugoslav version of the manual - "BASIC - ORIC NOVA 64"(Slovenian language edition) written by Jure Spiler and published in 1985.
A Bulgarian machine called the Pravetz 8D is known to have existed, and a few are owned by Oric owners. This was a copy of the Atmos 48K and was produced between 1986 and 1989. It wasn't yellow as stated here before, it was white! It has an integrated power supply and both a Western European and Cyrillic alphabet - the upper case character set produces Western European characters, which lower case gives Cyrillic letters. In order to ease the use of the two alphabets, the Pravetz 8D is fitted with a CAPS LOCK key.
Q: Are there any emulators for the Oric?
Yes, quite a few. Emulators exist for :
DOS, Windows, Linux and Macintosh (Euphoric).
Atari ST (Atoric).
MESS has Oric drivers available.
There is also a joke emulator for the ST available, which simply puts up the Oric starting screen.
For more on Oric emulators, visit Welcome To Oric World.
Q: Where can I get real Oric computers?
If you keep an eye on an online auction such as Ebay, then you may be 'lucky' enough to pick up some Oric hardware, software or books. Just be ready with your chequebook though - I have seen an Oric1 sell for £100 and an Atmos for £200. Thats for the basic machine, cables and a couple of games, nothing more! Usually, they go for much less. Steve Marshall may be able to help as he keeps a few spares.
Disc Drives and Interfaces
Cumana Disc Interface. One of the most popular interfaces and used by many Oric users to this day. Consisted of a black box wih a large on/off switch (and a handy reset button (no more turning the Oric upside down and poking around with a pen)). The device also powered the Oric so there was no need to find an extra power point at the wall and the Oric could be turned on or off by using the switch on the Cumana unit - very useful ( I blew up an Oric once while fumbling around trying to connect the power lead into the back and finding the expansion port instead). There are three sockets on the unit - one connected to a disc drive using a Shugart type ribbon connector, one connected the unit to the Oric via its expansion port. The third port is labelled "Expansion" and is presumably an extension of the Oric's own port so that other devices can be connected to the expansion port without having to unplug the Cumana interface.
Oric Microdisc. The original Oric Micro Disc was first available for the Atmos. The version you can see in old Oric 1 adverts was never released. It contains its own interface in the drive, just plug in and go! It takes 3" discs (as used on the Amstrad CPC 6128 and Spectrum +3) with 160K per side capacity. Other slave drives could be daisy-chained to it. The slaves were identical to the Master drives in appearance, but they did not contain the interface circuitry.
RS232-C Interface. This device, from MCP, comes with Prestel software and is designed to work with a Telemod modem.
300/300 Baud Serial Interface Module. Produced by Kenema Associates/Oric User Group is designed to allow connection to Modems, printers etc.
Joystick Interfaces (Visit
more details on Joystick Interfaces)
D'Ktronics made one and I think they did the Oric one, (in Oric colours) but see the Pennant interface also.
Downsway Programmable Joystick Interface. Downsway Electronics produced this device. You could program it to produce the equivalent effect of key presses, but I found it a bit flaky.
MCP (Modular Concepts Peripherals) produced a joystick inteface that included a speech synthesizer as well as two Atari-type joystick ports. The synthesizer had a fixed vocabulary of about 200 words. There was also a separate joystick interface available for a much lower price.
PASE produced one of the first. This was an interface which plugged into the Oric printer port. There were sockets for two Atari-type joysticks.
Altai made a Pase compatible one which OUM sold quite a few of. Plugs into the printer port and can support up to two Atari-style joysticks.
Pennant produced a self centering micro-switch based joystick (which looked like the analogue ones that were used on the Dragon) and interface, which plugged into the printer port. The interface was supported by software house IJK and later became....
.....Oric Joystick Interface. Made by Oric and supported by IJK and Tansoft, this interface was basically the Pennant interface.
Protek Programmable Joystick Interface. This info on this device from Steve Marshall: "You flick a switch and then press the key you want to program and press the joystick up a lot of times and then repeat for all other positions and then get bored and go and watch the telly."
A number of joystick interfaces were also produced in France.
There was also an Oric joystick in Atmos colours.
Easi-Load. Produced by Rainbow Electronics. Connecting between Oric and tape recorder, this device was said to improve loading and saving performance.
Oric V23 Modem. This modem was designed mainly to allow access to the Prestel system. Operated at 1200 baud half duplex or 1200/75 full duplex.
Nike AT is a device containing rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries. These are kept powered up by the mains supply and if the mains goes off, will keep an Atmos powered for 30 minutes - hopefully enough time to restore power or save your work. The device also offers some protection against some mains borne interference.
Oric MCP-40. Oric produced their own 4 colour plotter which used 4 pens of different colours to write to a roll of 4.5 inch paper (use it to draw designs on your bog-roll!). While adequate for program print-outs and such like, it wasn't very useful for business or formal letters. Luckily, the Centronics port allowed easy connection to most common printers of the day. This device was available in Oric 1 or Oric Atmos colour schemes. These printers were based on the Tandy/Radio Shack CGP-115 and pens and paper for this device will fir the Oric printer.
Speech Synthesizers and Sound Devices
Programmable Voice Synthesizer. Produced by the Oric User Group/Kenema Associates (from what I can tell these two organisations appear to have been effectively one and the same).This device connected to the Centronics printer port and used an allophone system, allowing an unlimited vocabulary. Allophones are groups of letters which the device can pronounce. Words are made up using these groups and with a bit of experimentation, the device can be made to say virtually anything. This device also worked with the Microtan 65 and was available for several other micros (not specified in Oric adds). The manual was also available in a foreign language edition (languages not specified).It could be connected to a hifi system for better amplification. The price in November 1983 was £29.95 plus £1 for postage and packing.
See the MCP Joystick Interface - this included a speech synthesizer.
A number of voice synthesizers were produced by French companies using the MEA 8000 processor. These are reported as having French accents, while English produced synthesizers have English accents :-)
Not sure how to classify this, but Express Computers Limited produced a plastic unit to house your Oric 1 in. This helped hide away all the wires and included a recess for a pad and pens, a cassette shelf and was able to support a TV. Looked very neat in the advert! Cost was £29.95.
Peter Dickerson used to work for Oric and has some
interesting information on some projects that never made it:
"An Oric based on the 68008. The idea was to produce a 68K product based on the Oric/Atmos gate-array. Unfortunately we
could not resolve the memory sync problems reliably - memory errors every 15 mins."
"Z80 system. Chris Shaw and I worked on a joint Oric/CPM system like the Torch BBC/Tube system. He wrote the CPM side of the drivers while I wrote the 6502 side."
"Chris Shaw and I also colaborated on the PC clone project. We both spent about six weeks together in Colorado designing some gate arrays for this system (at NCR in Fort Collins). The financial situation closed in before we could run with it. The gate arrays were never used."
Maintainers note: Interesting news that, Oric may have become one of the UKs PC manufacturers if only they had a little more time and money. They may have even been still around today! Back to Peter:
"The Stratos project (not released, but formed the basis of the French Telestrat) was pretty much complete when the Receiver was called in. I don't recall too much about it other than we seemed quite pleased with ourselves. I don't recall contributing much to this other than testing and some bankswitch stuff. The new error correcting cassette load/save code and some new graphics facilities were written by John Dugrez-Lewis. I can bring a few other faces to mind but not their names. Dave Hutchinson (?) designed the Stratos gate array with some input from PJ (Maintainers note: PJ = Paul Johnson I presume)."
Q: I've got an Oric up and running, but the
picture is poor, help!
First, make sure your TV is tuned in as best you can to UHF Channel 36. If the problem continues, have a look underneath your Oric. You should see two holes, one round, one oval. There is a small screw inside each one. You can turn these (only slightly!) with a screwdriver to optimise the picture. Do not turn them more than half a turn in either direction. Some of the UHF boxes inside Orics were of poor quality and there is nothing you can do unless you replace them (a job for those who know what they are doing). Unfortunately, faint lines down the screen are commonplace. These are equally spaced across the display and can be used to good effect in platform games as they give you points of reference for jumping. The appearance of these lines can be reduced by anti-wrinkle cream, er, no, sorry. You will need to twiddle the screws underneath the Oric and the Brightness/Contrast settings of your TV. Alternatively use a monitor and the RGB port or an emulator. For those of us living in Britain, there is the added problem that Channel 5 uses channels near channel 36 for its signal and you may therefore get interference if you use an aerial splitter to connect your aerial and Oric at the same time (also beware of portable TVs with their own aerials). I have had no problems however.
Q: Where can I get my Oric fixed?
Steve Marshall has some spares, including power supplies.
Q: How do I turn the sound down?
You can't. I used to put my Oric on a pillow for play into the night. This should successfully muffle a lot of the sound. There is another option.
Q: What is the extra 16K of RAM? What does it
The Oric 1 and Atmos have 16K RAM more than they say they do. This RAM is referred to as the "Overlay". In the memory map, this RAM occupies the same addresses as the ROM (#C000 to #FFFF). Obviously, the computer should only access one set of physical memory at a time from these addresses, either the RAM or the ROM. Which memory in the address range #C000 to #FFFF can be accessed is determined by the ROMDIS status. On a cassette based Oric setup, the status is set so that the computer is diverted to the ROM locations and the overlay RAM is hidden and cannot be used.
IIf you look in Appendix 11 of the Oric Atmos manual, you will see that pin 2 on the expansion port is labelled ROMDIS. This pin gives external devices the ability the change the status of ROMDIS and the Oric Microdisc takes advantage of this facility. When the Oric is booted with a microdisc interface connected, the ROMDIS status is altered and the DOS is loaded into the 16K overlay RAM. A small piece of code is also loaded into memory (between #0400 and #04FF). This code determines whether to use ROM or overlay RAM when address in the range #C000 to #FFFF are used. So when a microdisc is fitted to the Oric, it really becomes a machine with 64K RAM and 16K ROM. It is possible to use the overlay RAM for your own use by overwriting the DOS. In fact, if you look at the VIP4 demo by the Defence Force group, they wrote their own disc handling routines which occupied only a few hundred bytes of memory, therefore leaving almost 64K for the demo program.
Q: Where can I get information on the pinouts
of the various ports?
Twilighte has the information you need. Look under 'Hardware'.
Q: How big can programs be?
It is possible to access almost 64K RAM by using the Overlay RAM. There was talk, a year or two back, of work allowing the Oric to access 4MB of memory, using paging techniques.
Don't forget that if you use a disc drive, the size of programs can be almost limitless ;-)
Q: What projects are currently in progress
for the Oric?
Fabrice Frances maintains a list of projects at Oric World.
Steve Marshall has developed his own volume controller (internal), sound on/off switch and earphone socket. He can also fit these to your machine if you don't feel up to it. If this interests you, drop a line to Steve for more details, price, etc.
From the Oric World:
Jonathan Haworth - who has uncovered more Oric history than I thought possible. Much of the historical information in this FAQ can be traced back to his efforts.
Jon Bristow (Twilighte), Fabrice Frances (Euphoric, FF, Mr Emulator - who stands to make £10,000 if I ever win a million on the lottery - its a shame I don't buy a ticket!), Simon Ullyatt (Chaos), Matt Coates (Stato), Steve Marshall (Muso), Rob Cook, Mike Pointier (Dbug), "Mysterious Yugoslav Contact", Jean Boileau (Mr Atmos, Mr Bostik (he, he!)), Simon Guyart (Symoon) , Dave Dick (Thanks for all your service to the Oric community over the years, Dave) ,Oguzhan Yilmaz (Peacer), Ivan Naidenov, Robert Graham, Peter Reynolds, Will Datsun, Branislav Gavric and all others I have forgotten to mention.
Special thanks to those responsible for the Oric and
Peter Dickerson & Ivan Mahon.
Geoff Phillips (Geffers).
Zube, for advice.
Bam for supplying food and cups of tea and Lothlin for not attacking me while typing (surely the Worlds most psychotic cat?)
And anyone who I've forgotten.