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The History of Luxor ABC Microcomputers

Contents:

The story begins

At 1978 two Swedish companies, Scandia Metric AB and Dataindustrier AB, decided to build a completely Swedish microcomputer. While the both companies had previous experience about computer based products they had lack of possibility to manufacture CRTs and they were not able to do serial production. So they decided to contact one of the biggest television manufacturers in Europe at the time, Luxor Instrustri AB.

After Luxor joined the project on February 1978, the project started to go on quite fast. The first prototype of the oncoming computer, codenamed as "HD-80" or "Hemdator 80" was ready at May. It was developed by Dataindustrier AB. Since they had previous experience from Zilog's Z80 microprocessor with Databoard 4680, it was selected for the oncoming computer.

Advanced Basic Computer 80

The first units were ready on August. At the time the working title was changed to the final name, Advanced Basic Computer for the 1980s or ABC80.

ABC80 was ready so it was released on August 1978.

The next step

[A picture of ABC800] The next generation, ABC800 hit the market on 1981. It was an enhanced version of the ABC80 and it was intended to professional use as opposed to ABC80 which was intended to be a home computer.

There were two basic variations of ABC800:

Both versions were almost the same, the only difference was the display controller. Color version could use 8 color palette with the text but had only 40 column display. Monochrome version had 80 column display.

They both had 32 kilobytes RAM with 24 kilobytes ROM including even more enhanced Basic interpreter, the Basic II. There were also small disk operating system, ABC-DOS, and an option ROM that had interface functions like serial port control.

There were also an option to high resolution graphics with HR adapter that was capable to produce a resolution of 240x240 pixels with 2 colors selectable from 8 color palette. This add-on card was attached between the display controller and the motherboard and it added 16 kB more memory that was mapped in the same memory space than the system ROM. Option ROM provided necessary functions to manage the mapped memory space.

Professional models

Later on, the two models were added to the ABC800-line. These, with more professional look, were

While the ABC802 was intended mainly for low-end workstation and terminal, the ABC806 was "designed for" graphical applications. It was equipped with much more memory and more advanced graphic abilities than any other ABC before.
[ABC802] [ABC802 motherboard]

The motherboard design of the ABC806 was very similar to the ABC800 while the ABC802 was a totally new and smaller design.

These new versions also introduced a new DOS version. The UFD-DOS, a short for User File Directories, added a possibility to use subdirectories within the disk and was mainly intended for hard disk use but worked with floppies as well. The oldest release that I'm aware of is the v6.15, but the oldest that is available for download is v6.19. (The "major" version number is 6 due the fact that the DOS is in PROM chip number 6. There was no other major versions.)

Advanced ABCs

In 1985, before Nokia acquired Luxor, two advanced models were released. These were based on Motorola's 68k processor family running a variant of Unix. Unfortunately there were no general interest for these machines and later Nokia brought the competitor out of the business (the acquisition is briefly mentioned in the Nokia company history).

The Timeline

The Luxor trademark is still owned by a subsdiary of Nokia - Nokia Satellite Systems AB.
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This page has been created by Sami Rautiainen.
Read the small print. Last updated April 06, 2006.