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January 17, 1988

TORCH COMPUTERS RE-EMERGES AS OEM SUPPLIER AFTER RESCUE FROM DOWN UNDER

By CBR Staff Writer

Troubled UK workstation manufacturer Torch Computers Ltd of Cambridge appears to be finding its feet again after financial problems led to a rescue package set up by backers Newmarket Ventures and the Australian Catsco Pty company back in October. Torch has signed a three year technology exchange agreement with US VME board specialists Performance Technologies of Rochester, New York, which will take a licence to the Torch Manta controller board for 3.5 SCSI disk drives in the US, resulting in sales revenues estimated at around $240,000. The board has also attracted licensing agreements in the UK from Thame Microsystems Ltd in Oxfordshire, and Integrated Micro Products of Consett, County Durham. Torch says it plans to use the custom Peformance VLSI VMEbus interface gate array circuit as the basis of a new product range. Meanwhile, the company has found OEM and distribution deals for its Advanced Triple X VME board from electronics giant Marconi, and from Europel, which will distribute the board through Thame Microsystems to OEM customers and system integrators as the Venus board – it features a 68020 based dual processor, dual bus architecture which includes a Torch-developed RISC input-output processor, OpenChip. Torch’s own Advanced Triple X board is due out in February, with complete systems ready a month later. Meanwhile, December saw the first available Triple X Turbo 68010-based systems, with Unix System V.2, 5Mb memory and 80Mb hard disk, claimed to be 30% faster than earlier versions. New chairman Tim Lowden, seconded from Newmarket Ventures, says that Torch will increasingly look for business from OEM customers and resellers, and at further American and European partnerships. Catsco, the company’s third biggest customer after GEC’s Marconi, and British Telecom, could well be viewing its interest in Torch as a gateway into the European telecommunications market, a sector in which it has achieved dominance in Australia.

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