All material on this page is contributed by Mr. Emmanuel Roche, France.
In the history of computers, and the companies that make them, it are rarely the existing, succesful companies that start something new, like building a small cheap computer, even if all the components are available. It are the startups that create and explore the new market.
The Alcyane history started in the early 1970s. George Cottin: "I started to be interested in microprocessors in 1972 when the Intel 8008 was first presented in France. I immediately imagined using it to conceive a computer".
Two years later, Alain Isambert, a young engineer in training period at HP, and Jean-Pierre Bouhot, chief editor of "L'informatique Nouvelle" magazine, rejoin Georges Cottin. The trio starts to work and design a prototype in 1975 (probably based on the 8080). In 1976, they created their own company, MBC, with less than 30,000 FF. Their first computer was called the Alcyane. "We made the circuits by hand and we received our first 20 customers in my dining room", recalls Georges Cottin.
In 1980, MBC makes a turnover of 14.5 millions Francs. In 1981, it had sold a thousand systems, but a shareholder retires. The MATRA group then buys back MBC in February 1981, and in June Georges Cottin retires too.
The Alcyane is an Intel 8080 based computer, build in a enclosure similar to 19". The basic model had data and address toggle switches, similar to larger computers in those days and the Altair. Later models had a regular keyboard, video and cassette tape or floppy drives for data storage.
|Development system||One of the features of the Alcyane was a programming language based on the French language. Below are a BASIC program and its equivalent in "Le language d'Alcyane":
100 FOR A = 1 TO INT(3500/3) + 1 110 DATA LOAD FH # X, A$() 120 FOR B = 1 to 3 130 B$ = A$ (B):T-CVT(B$(71,77)) 140 IF T < 1200 THEN 160 150 PRINT B$(1,18), B$(19,70) 160 NEXT B 170 NEXT A 180 END 100 POUR CLIENT = 1 A 3500 110 LIRE # "FICHIER ENVOI" (CLIENT), NOM!, ADRESSE!,TOTALACHATS 120 SI TOTALACHATS < 1200 ALORS 140 130 IMPRIMER NOM!, ADRESSE! 140 PROCHAIN CLIENT 150 FIN
Three problems were solved:
|Multi user system||Typical that however small the system resources, it was forseen to be used by several users; A0, A1, A2 are each an Alcyane, with RAM and ROM indicated. Each K/TVn is a keyboard/screen combination. Four users and an operating system in 40 kByte RAM...|
|Alcyana A6E||In 1983 MBC (then part of MATRA) introduced the A6E, a computer for office use. The specs:
Hardware: CPU 8085 RAM 128 kByte + 4 kByte system RAM Video RAM 4kByte 80x24 or 128x24 in text mode 256x256 in graphics mode (optional) keyboard with 25 function keys (numeric keypad) 5 1/4" floppy drives 410 kByte 8" floppy drive 1.2 MByte Software: Alcytext - word processor Basic Alcybaz Fortran Pascal A.P.L. Operating systems: CP/M Alcybaz
Last updated: 2011-01-08