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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Oric 1

Oric 1


Oric Products (UK)


Oric 1

Date Launched

27th January 1983


£100 with 16 KB RAM
£170 with 48 KB RAM

Microprocessor type

MOSTEK 6502A @ 1 MHz

ROM size

16 kilobytes

Standard RAM

16 or 48 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

64 kilobytes.
The 48 KB version actually contained 64 KB, 16 KB of which was normally overlaid by the ROM.
It seems that the 16 KB Oric 1 used a different printed circuit board to the 48 KB model, with no spare sockets to expand the RAM.

Keyboard type

Flexible rubber sheet but keys were topped with hard plastic.

Supplied language

Extended Microsoft BASIC

Text resolution

40 x 28 characters

Graphics resolution

240 x 200 pixels, plus a three line (24 pixel high) text area at the bottom.

Colours available

8 for text, maximum of two different colours at once in high resolution.
The Oric 1 used a peculiar system of 'serial attributes', similar to teletext, to control colours. This took up less memory than more normal designs but made programming tricky.

Example Screenshot

Oric 1 display
An arcade-type game on the Oric 1


Three note polyphonic, output through speaker

Cassette load speed

300 or 2400 baud

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

280 x 175 x 52

Special features

The 16 KB model was the cheapest colour computer when launched.

Good points

Much better sound capabilities than the Sinclair Spectrum.
Built-in parallel printer port.

Bad points

Cassette loading was unreliable.
Several bugs in the ROM.

How successful?

Moderately successful, selling about 160,000 units.
In 1983 the Oric 1 was the best-selling home computer in France, but this still only amounted to around 50,000 units.


The Oric 1 was clearly designed to compete directly with the Sinclair Spectrum. It had better sound output, similar graphics, a slightly better BASIC and slightly better keyboard. It was also cheaper until Sinclair dropped the price of the Spectrum.
However there were the usual initial production delays and the unreliable tape interface and faults in the ROM harmed sales.
The Oric 1 was probably not sufficiently better than the established, and more widely known, Spectrum to sell as well as the latter

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