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February 26, 1989

FUTURE COMPUTERS BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH “VIRUS-PROOF” DISKLESS STATIONS

By CBR Staff Writer

Future Computers (Systems) Ltd of Selsdon, Surrey, has recently launched a new range of IBM AT-compatibles and diskless workstations in a bid to stand on the merits of its own production line following a management buyout in 1986. A core of the company’s employees trace their roots back to Encatel Systems which is probably best known for the distribution of Intertec Data Systems’ Superbrain, and the introduction of Ashton-Tate’s dBase in the UK. In 1981 Future Computers was set up to design and manufacture a range of machines with built-in networking. The range was launched in 1982, and for the next four years was mainly sold OEM to the likes of Memorex. In December 1986 the management bought the company name and took the design team with them to work on a new range of machines. The rest of the company now trades under the name FX-International which is a majority US-owned company. Future Computers, however, is proudly British and manufactures from board level at its new facility in Selsdon. The company’s product line, on which it wants to stake its reputation, is known as the FS60 range. The machines in this range use 80286 processors at 12MHz with no wait states. Standard memory is configured for 512Kb RAM, which can be upgraded internally to 4Mb, and hard disk storage of 30Mb is available as an option. The FS60 includes two serial and two parallel ports with two 16-bit bus slots free. The FST monitor provided supports Hercules and CGA graphics as standard with VGA compatibility offered as an option. The FS60 is also available as a Novell Ethernet workstation using Novell Netware’s entry level system with its proprietary system fault tolerance facility. The workstation is being marketed, at an entry level of UKP995, as a cost effective way for clients to expand their Novell network by linking standard low-cost MS-DOS machines to an 80386 server thereby distributing processing power and lowering the average cost per user. The workstation is diskless and uses the large disk capacity offered on more powerful 80386 machines. A diskless workstation is also a secure and virus-free workstation according to Future, because there is no opportunity for users to import or export data from the system. For those unhappy with the storage problems of a diskless micro, an optional 3.5 floppy drive is available. The Ethernet workstation has one standard parallel port with an optional serial port available. The company reports a healthy order book for the FS60 range, including a UKP100,000 order to CC Engineering for Future’s Ethernet workstations. Further pilot implementations, distributed by AFK, encompass a number of systems at the Paymaster General’s office for use on a Novell NetWare local area network with a gateway to an ICL mainframe.

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