The MTX range of machines is another example of classic British
engineering that simply arrived either too late or was too expensive, like the
Enterprise 64 (though
Enterprise had far more problems than just timing!). Originally Memotech produced
quality peripherals for the ZX81
such as RAM packs, an external keyboard, printer buffer, word processing cart
and even a Hi-Res Graphics addon. I say quality because they were beautifully
designed and engineered and came in extruded aluminium cases when everyone else
was producing plastic tat.
Once the Spectrum started kicking butt the founders of Memotech, Geoff Boyd
and Robert Branton, decided to produce their own machine under the Memotech
name. The result was the 32kb MTX500, a machine that used industry standard
components and was surprisingly close to the MSX standard that Microsoft was
trying to shove down people's throats. The MTX was housed in an extruded black
aluminium case like their ZX81 peripherals, had a full professional keyboard
and was designed to appeal to business users as well as gamers. It was easily
the best looking machine of the day, hence its appearance in the film 'Weird
Before the MTX500 was even released the company announced the 64kb MTX512, which
really gave the C64 a good run for its money. However, despite sales upwards
of 250,000 and the efforts of in-house software company Continental Software
none of the other players really did much with the MTX, despite its capabilities.
By the time the followup machine was announced, the RS128, Memotech unfortunately
had gone into receivership. Geoff Boyd started Memotech Computers Ltd and carried
on producing some RS128 units that at one point controlled up to 70% of the
big Video Walls popular in shops and the like at the time. I've also been told
MTX's were made into Electronic Darts Scoreboards as well.
There were only really 2 peripherals (not counting the badged Panasonic printer)
- the FDX twin Floppy Drive enclosure and the single drive SDX. In conjunction
with an RS232 serial card your MTX became a fully fledged twin floppy CP/M machine.
There was an 80 column colour card for the FDX as well as a SCSI disk controller
and something called a Silicon Drive, which is best described as a solid-state
RAM drive - a smart component for its day.
Once Memotech Computers took off pictures and bumf appeared featuring a machine
called the MTX512 S2, which was a 256kb MTX with a single 3 1/2" floppy
on the side, but I don't think it ever happened.
Back in Dec 05 I bought a load of Memotech items from John Nicol, a former shop owner who sold Memotech stuff back in the day. Aside from boxed items he had 2 FDX units that he'd got piecemeal and repackaged, one into a PC case and the other into a not-really-released 8" drive enclosure in lovely Memotech black aluminium. He'd also put some software onto 3.5" disks as well as collected all the available retail software tapes, an excellent haul that filled my car :)
MTX500, boxed with PSU etc but missing the top polystyrene. Bust. MTX500, poly boxed but no outer, plus cables, PSU, manual, demo tape, Toado and Draughts. Working :)
MTX500, no box but what the hell :) Bust. MTX512 with PSU and manual. Working! Bad video output on it though. RS128 with companion FDX floppy subsystem, thanks to Kevan Heydon :) 'Tis bust though. More on that when I have time. Mint boxed MTX, from John. More to be added! MTX512 with PSU and manual and an extra 3 1/2 inches! Yep, nearly 2 feet long. It's got no identification stickers or serial number, none of the ports on the back are labelled and the keyboard is from the 500. As is the PSU since I think 512 PSUs were labelled as such.......probably just a sticker though. Pix are on the large side but well worth looking at.
What isn't shown too well is the extra plastic part had been sawn from a regular MTX backplane!
Here's an email from Geoff Boyd himself:
"I've now had a look at your website pictures and I can see
the elongated MTX512.
I believe this was a (very) limited run of MTX 512s with single drive Floppy
disk Controller card and 80 Column card in the extended enclosure."
Thanks for that Geoff - that could mean it was intended to be
a true CP/M machine without the need for the external FDX box. Pity I don't
have the box for it! *bg*
Another email from Jim Wills, an ex-staffer, verifies what
Geoff has said but adds that he doesn't think that run of machines ever made
it out of the factory, which ties in with the lack of serial number etc. It
still needed the FDX, or SDX floppies though.
Jim was also half of Megastar Software, which produced around 15 titles
for the MTX series alongside Continental Software.
Games for the MTX
Alice in Wonderland