Apricot Computers Plc expects to be the first UK company to ship IBM PS/2-compatible Micro Channel Architecture machines: the Birmingham company is believed to have inked in September 5 for the launch of its new family of 80386 and 80386SX-based personal computers (CI No 960). The new family will position Apricot even more firmly in the high end of the corporate market for personal computers, and the company is understood to have got very positive feedback from banks and the financial community from previews of the new machines: bankers are persuaded of the benefits of the Micro Channel, it seems. The new machines are also expected to improve substantially on the price-performance offered by IBM’s PS/2 family – but they will need to if Apricot is to win the corporate business it expects: IBM gives enormous discounts to large users buying PS/2s by the score. The company is also believed to have signed up a couple of large distributors who will give it a 200-strong third party sales force dedicated to winning business from large accounts. Apricot is using the Chips & Technologies PS/2 compatibility chip set, getting the boards stuffed in Singapore – at the same shop that Apple Computer uses for stuffing – and the micros are being assembled at its Scottish factory. They will include Ethernet interface on the board, and synchronous communications are in the plan – as is a data security encryption device to enable all those bankers Apricot hopes to win sleep sounder at night. The company is still on target to have an Intel 80486-based box out early next year – no, the 80486 is not yet announced, and a lap-top is also in the plan – likely bought OEM from Zenith Data or Toshiba.