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Technology / AI and automation


The torrid performance of the Stock Market last week has put paid, at least, temporarily to the flotation of Psion Plc. The manufacturer of the hand-held Organiser II pocket computer was due to make its debut on the Unlisted Securities Market in early November but the date has been put back sine die to give the market time to stabilise again. Inevitably, the Organiser will be portrayed by much of the national press as an electronic filofax for Yuppies, but Psion director Peter Norman says the truth is very different. It is an information handling device that does something useful. The Organiser includes database, calendar, clock and calculator and can swap files and formulae with Lotus 1-2-3 on a Personal Computer. Since the debut of the first Organiser in April 1984, Psion has sold 130,000 units, with Marks and Spencer Plc the biggest single customer. The target for the current year is 90,000 units of which 30% will be exports. The two models, the CM and the XT, currently sell for UKP99 and UKP139.50. The Organiser will provide around 88% of Psion’s projected 1987 turnover of UKP11.5m with business software and a chess game accounting for the rest. Pre-tax profits this year will be in excess of UKP1.8m, against UKP390,000 in 1986. The non-Organiser products are a throwback to Psion’s early days. The company started in 1980 in the computer games and leisure market before moving into business software market, a field it is trying to grow once again. Despite the disproportionate sizes of the two operations, the software development activity employs more people than the Organiser side of things. Psion’s main package is the integrated four-in-one PC-Four software package with Quill word processor, Archive databse, Abacus spreadsheet and Easel business graphics, which grew out of the Xchange product that was bundled with the ill-fated Sinclair QL. At UKP69 plus VAT, PC-Four is one of the cheapest packages of its kind on the market. Broker to the issue, which before the market traumas was set to value Psion at around UKP20m, is Charterhouse Securities. The company was founded in 1980 with UKP50,000 accumulated by former duvet salesman David Potter with some shrewd share trading. The flotation is still pencilled in for sometime this year. And the name? It’s derived from Potter Scientific Instru-ments, and the not-quite-Greek logo is simply the components of the Psion name artfully rearranged.

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CBR Staff Writer

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