UK Computers 1978 to 1989

Grundy Newbrain

Rumour has it that the Newbrain was a contender for the BBC Microcomputer contract. Compared against the BBC Model B (or even the Model A) then I find this difficult to understand. The Newbrain is quite small (about A5 sized) with an adequate keyboard which has real keys but they are smaller than normal. It has a very ordinary BASIC and a black and white output (normal for that time). For many months it was also a rarity as none appeared to have been delivered. The non-arrival of mine seemed routine. It comprised a sandwich of 3 boards inside and it ran very hot. All the heat was passed to the back of the case where the metal was often hot to the touch. There were two models, the model A and the AD, which had a 16 character display so that the system was, in theory, portable. With no place to store the batteries though and the fact it drew a lot of electricity then the AD was really just a novelty. My AD does not work (the capacitors degrade with time and some still need to be replaced). My Model A was built from parts and though not in a proper casing, still works perfectly.

The Newbrain was not all bad, however, it was very fast for its time (with a 4 MHz processor and a fairly fast BASIC) and came with 32 KB of memory and a 40 or 80 column display (80 for monitors). Floppy disk interfaces brought along a plethora of business software and also permitted them to offer CP/M (See Nascom). The price, if you could buy one, was £229 though most went for less as they did not sell very well after finally becoming available and were heavily discounted.