Yeah, where do I start? Tandata Design Consultants was running as a modem designer back before '84, when I first was introduced by a colleague at uni who had worked there for a while. I remember someone saying that all the honest people from Tangerine went to Tandata, and everyone else formed Oric! By '84, a project had just been conceived called "Minerva". It was a desktop comms station, with a hands-free phone, nice keyboard, modem, TV/Monitor, a little LCD panel, and tons of battery-backed RAM. It had a word processor, address book, spreadsheet, etc ... precursor of a PDA, really. It was a very ambitious project, but with enough comms emphasis that the company had the expertise to build it. I worked there for the three summer vacations during my degree. Over that time, more and more people got sucked into Minerva, until, by '86, I and one colleague were about the only people *not* working on it! By that time, the machines were all built, and they worked, and they were being sold, and it was wonderful ... except that there was a bug. After a week, or a month, but sometime, your Tandata PA (as the product was called) would crash and require a cold boot, losing all your addresses and docs which were held in the battery-backed RAM. And there was no backup facility, so you tended to lose everything - a fact that meant that there was *absolutely* no room for bugs. It took months and months for the problem to be solved, because it was so intermittent - long after I'd left, it turned out there was something special about the ROM's ZIF sockets, and they would fail over time (corrosion maybe? can't remember). Of course, I imagine that there were lots of other "candidate" bugs that were swept up in the process. But as a result, the product started well, but never really sold once this problem became an issue. The ICL "One-per-desk" came out, too, and did more or less the same stuff, but it had a (ZX-style) microdrive built in, so it didn't need to be as robust. The PA never recouped its development costs, and by about '87/'88 it killed the company, which ended up being bought out by the firm that fabricated its products (AB Electronics, in Wales). The commercial office (Tandata Marketing Ltd), in Malvern, kept going for a while, I think.
I thought I'd add a bit more to Bill Witts' comments about Tandata, since the company is still going, albeit in a different form from the days when he was there. I remember him from my days at Tandata Design Consultants in Cambridge, and while it is true that a lot of the company was tied up working on the PA (I still have mine, and it still works!), there were other intersting projects giong on that he didn't mention. We won a contract to develop a product for 'the South Limburg Project', which was, in a way, another forerunner of the Internet, but using banks of Philips laservision disc players instead of servers. The terminal was a TV receiver with a framestore, teletext receiver, and either a cable modem or a DTMF based backchannel, through which page requests were sent to the server, and the pages were delivered as a single video field on a dedicated RF channel, each one tagged with a teletext encoded address to identify the destination receiver. I never saw it in full operation - South Limburg is in the Netherlands - but it looked an impressive bit of kit, and performed a very impressive freeze-frame function on broadcast TV using a single button on the IR remote. We were also developing a line-powered modem, which Sinclair were going to use on their version of the PA (can't remember it's launch name), but they never got beyond prototype because Sinclair went into receivership at around the same time. The whole Tandata business was acquired by AB Microelectronics in 1989, who tried to move it to South Wales. In the end, only about 7 of the marketing staff stayed with the company, and it was progressively sold off over the next two years. Tandata Design Consultants staff bought their bit back and carried on for a while as an independent consultancy, also providing a repair service for customers' kit, before folding, and four of the remaining staff in Wales bought the rest, renamed as Tandata Systems Ltd. This was moved to Newbury in 1992, and developed the databroadcast side of the business, which began with a staff information terminal for Heathrow Airport. It went on to provide data broadcast head end systems and receivers to various companies in the betting and financial services industries until 2001, when the decision was made to concentrate on the passenger transport information systems business, which had been steadily growing since the first check-in desk system was supplied to Birmingham Airport in about 1993. There are around 70 sites in the UK currently using their flight information system, Axis, or the bus interchange system, BIDS. The company was developing on-street interactive talking timetable systems, and real-time information systems using bus position reporting, when it was acquired by ACIS in 2005. It still trades under the Tandata name, and is still based in Newbury, although there are plans to move it to Cambridge, where the parent company's development team is located.