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September 5, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Apricot Computers Plc’s main event yesterday was the launch of the six-model Qi family – say it kee – consisting of three 80386SX models and three full 80386 machines. Key feature of the machine is a motherboard that gives a whole new meaning to the term overpopulation – Apricot claims that, set beside the Compaq Computer Deskpro 386/25 it offers the equivalent of the main board and five or six plug-in AT boards, all on one surface mount motherboard. Key features of the board are Ethernet interface, VGA graphics, dual synchronous communications, and a Qi Card security access system that enables a user to disable the machine when unattended by firing an infra-red signal at it from a device that can be carried on a key ring. The machines have four Micro Channel slots for when boards start appearing, but so much is on the motherboard that the Birmingham company sees little use for the slots. The machines come with the Ethernet either thick or thin wire, the dual syncronous, and a serial and a bidirectional parallel port. Main memory goes to 16Mb. On the software front, the Qi Environment bundles MS-DOS 3.3, Windows and the security software for UKP280. For local networking, Microsoft’s LAN Manager and the Microsoft – Sybase – Ashton-Tate SQL Server are offered. The bottom three models all use the 16MHz 80386SX and have a 1.44Mb 3.5 floppy. Base price, for a Qi 310 with 1Mb is UKP2,000; a 350 with 1Mb and 30Mb disk is UKP2,400; and a 350i has 2Mb and 50Mb disk for UKP2,900. They are available in four weeks; screens are extra. The 650, 660 and 660i follow in November: all have 1Mb and the floppy. The 650 has 20MHz CPU and 50Mb disk for UKP3,400; the 660 25MHz CPU and 60Mb disk for UKP4,000 and the 660i has a 125Mb disk and is UKP5,000. A 33MHz board is waiting for that version of the chip, and will be available for the top models. Xenix will be available in November – it’s not on 3.5 disks yet, OS/2 in January. Apricot’s Xen-i AT-bus machines will continue in new production and the company looks for a 50-50 split between the two lines: it is currently thought to be doing 2,500 of all machines a month, and sees that rising, but won’t say by how much. On marketing, the company is back in the MBS Plc fold, and also has Computacenter Ltd signed up: the two have a force of 200 to sell to corporate customers and dealers.

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