A History of Oric Magazines
By S.D.Marshall. April 2004 Original version published in Rhetoric magazine
|(Original intro from the last Rhetoric magazine ). I
thought as we wind up this magazine of ours that it'd be nice to have a
look back at the other Oric specific magazines and newsletters that
there have been over the years. I must acknowledge the work of Jon
Haworth whose article in OUM #37 provided a lot of the information
Starting off then we really need to look at the early Tangerine magazines. Tangerine itself was formed in 1979. Their principal product was the Microtan 65 and the will to support this machine led to the Tangerine User Group. T.U.G produced it's first magazine in November 1981, though the group seems to have been formed in mid-1980. They produced a magazine regularly each month right up to the last issue - #36 in October 1983.
One Microtan User was making a nuisance of himself asking questions and so on. Before he knew it he found himself fronting Tansoft's own magazine - the Tansoft Gazette, the first issue appearing in October 1981. This chap was Paul Kaufman ! This was not a monthly magazine, but a bimonthly one which ran for just 7 issue. The sixth issue was important though , in that it featured the first announcement of the Oric-1 in it's august/September issue of 1982 !
Also in production was Microtan World produced by Microtanic Computer Systems ltd. I'm not sure but I thnk there wer 10 or so of these.
I've never managed to obtain any of these early magazines. If anyone has any spare or would be willing to photocopy some please get in touch !!!
Back then to the what was the first proper Oric magazine - Tansoft's Oric Owner. This was really a revitalised version of the Tansoft Gazette and maintained Paul Kaufman as editor. The first issue dated January 1983 and appeared with each Oric-1 sold. It appeared regularly every other month until issue 8 where it was supposed to go on the news-stands - in shops ! The plan was to go monthly and attract a wider audience, but it never happened. The delayed ninth issue appeared for October/ November 1984 and the tenth issue became the last, released as December/ January 1985 though I think it arrived late.
During it's time it seems to have had a bit of a rocky ride with Paul Kaufman moving over for Kester Cranswick in issue 7. Paul had seemed so bored with himself that he pictured his cat in issue 6 ! Kester didn't last long though and Carolyn Groenveld took over on issue 9. She seems to have started out dealing with advertising and found work illustrating the magazine. She is also the artist behind the famous bird animation in the Atmos demo.
This is probably the best British magazine - the most professionally produced and featuring the most useful information and best programs. Over in France they copied it !
Micr'Oric was originally almost a straight translation of Oric Owner, issue 1 being produced in June 1983 by ASN. By issue 4 it was about half Oric Owner and half it's own material. Issue 5 was completely new. Curiously it too only lasted for 10 issues, the final issue containing an ambitious project to add a colour card to the Oric.
Back in England and the second proper magazine Oric Computing. This seems to have been TUG magazine changing it's name to suit the new Oric machine. It produced just 5 magazines with the last being a double issue numbered 5/6, (causing some confusion about how many there actually were).
This wasn't a great magazine featuring not much apart from listings. And they weren't very short listings either which meant that many people didn't bother to type them in. The Doppel-Ganger demo and Attributes in Action came from here and it is also notable for contributions from Kimbo who was the man to later find fame selling raffle tickets at OUM meets.
The next proper Oric magazine appeared in France. This was the famous Théoric which had the longest run of any of the professional magazines by a long way. It ran from the first issue of October 1984 right through, without a break in publication until the last issue #37 in December 1987.
Théoric covered most aspects of the Oric, including robot control devices, disk utilities, large machine code programs, extra commands, add-on sound chip projects and more all accompanied by plenty of type-in programs to suit every need. The magazine benefited from some knowledgeable contributors including Eric Viel who wrote many of the games programs, and Fabrice Broche who was, of course, responsible for Sedoric amongst other things.
Towards the end the magazine wanted a certain number of subscriptions to continue publication. They intended going subscription only, but they just didn't get enough people.
Now for a look at the 'non-professional' mags and to begin with the West Lothian Oric User Group. This Scottish group was perhaps the first independent group in Britain supporting the Oric. It is hard to establish exactly when it began, but it was formed by Stuart Wilson who wrote articles for some of the news-stand publications like Your Computer. The group had regular meetings and they produced a newsletter to keep members up to date. This largely features programs that featured in Microwaves, from Personal Computer News and collecting news from Oric Owner etc, giving details of the latest releases.
Interestingly the newsletter was put together on the Oric using the MCP40 printing sideways to obtain 80 text. The text was cut in to strips and glued to make sheets of approximately A4 size which could then be photocopied. I'm guessing the newsletters started in 1984 and were bimonthly. I have up to issue 9 but I think they continued a little longer than that .
Not to be outdone, an Oric group had been set up in Norway as early as Autumn 1983. The Norwegian Oric-1 User Group (Oric Brukerklubb) released a magazine called Oric-eieren, (Oric Owner) which lasted for just 5 issues from Autumn1983 to Summer 1984 with the last issue numbered 5/6 and containing some 90 pages !
Espen Krøke started a new user group in 1985/1986 although Oric interest was fading at this time. The club released 13 magazines from Jan 1986 to March 1987 with Arnt Eric Isaksen being a regular contributor.
It was later that Arnt set up Klubb Oric Norden which produced bimonthly magazines from 1989, the first issue being Nov/Dec - until when, I'm not sure. Some of the information seems to have been taken from OUM and translated. The last issue I have is #9 from March/April 1991 . they appear to be quite good, but I'm not good enough at translating to say more.
The demise of Oric Owner was followed by the establishment of the 'Independent Oric User Group' by Gary Ramsey - usually known as IOUG. Jon Haworth has the first issue as being April 1982 wh ich can't be right. I'm guessing it is April 1985. The first issue I own is #6 from November 1985.
The magazine consisted of just 5 sheets of A4 with print on one face. They produced every two or three months right up to the final issue in February 1989 making 23 issues in all. IOUG was the mainstay for many UK Oricians for four years and includes contributions from Allan Whittaker (of HGC who later contributed to OUM), Dave Goodrum (reviewing the Opel system which Simon Ullyatt now owns), and several more names who will be familiar to OUM members. In fact it seems that the introduction and success of OUM led to the magazines demise. Members were encouraged to support OUM which many did leading to OUM becoming a very successful magazine.
Next in Britain, came Your Oric. This was produced by the brothers, Ken and Chris Thompson. (I think those first names are right). It says "Organised by the P.I.N.G user group" on the cover . I'm not sure what that is/was.
Launched in June 1986 this magazine had quite a professional look about it, It ran bimonthly until June 1987 with a final issue in December 1987, making just 8 issues. I really like this magazine. It has the right sort of mix of news, reviews and programs to type in. The type-ins were well worth the effort with the final issue having an excellent Line Drawing program which found it's way onto one of the OUM disks.
The presentation was very good, but unfortunately the English was appalling. (Yes, even worse than mine !!!). Fortunately some people that could write stared to contribute to the magazine, notably one chap who went by the name of Archimedes, who wrote about the Oric scene in France. This was none other than Jon Haworth. Also there was a chap called Mick Poat who produced the fabled Mick Poat drum machine, but I've never managed to see one. Your Oric also managed to produce a decent piece of software, called Tyrant, which they sold. Not many got to see this and it appeared eventually on a Rhetoric disk.
Lesser known magazines surfaced. Oric Notes and Plug News were both produced by Paul Meadows with the help of R 'Huw' Morgan-Jones, Lloyd Preston and Glenn Peacey. Glenn and Paul were from Peterborough which may have something to do with the origins of 'PLUG' . It isn't clear what this refers to .
PLUG News is a little A 5 magazine that was produced on the MCP40 with a few illustration here and there and then photocopied. I have what appears to be the first edition which is undated and consists mainly of listings with a few bits of news and hints & tips and there is detail about meetings that appear to have been regular. Small but sweet ! I also have #6 which is dated 1986 and is the Christmas edition. Again the same sort of mix with a few cartoons. They appear to be produced by young chaps maybe in their early teens, but there is some good stuff here.
Over to Oric Notes of which I have issue 2 dated December 1985. This is an A4 magazine baring some similarities with You Oric, though it isn't as well done. It is again largely printed on the MCP40 but has other, better te xt added. There is a PLUG page and more news etc than PLUG News and then there is a lot of listings again with a few tutorials too. 'Volume 5' is dated March-May which doesn't make too much sense. There are again lots of listings including a rather intri guing program to morph from one object to another. The example in the program goes from an egg to a chicken. There is also a map for Land of Illusion and material that is more advanced than you'd expect from this little offering. I wish I had more of them or knew more about PLUG, but that's about all I can tell you.
Over in Holland they too were producing a magazine for Oric users. The called it 'Oric Users Info' which was produced by the group, 'Oric Users Holland'. I have just two of these nicely produced little mags. They appear to have been published bimonthly and were professional looking A5 editions with a nice cover, though there were few pages inside. The first issue was dated July 1986 and has news, detail about the group, addresses of places to buy software and a few listings. The September issue (number 2) has detail of the new Oric Telstrat. Quite nice but a bit small these mags are good to add to the collection, but I dont know how many there were in total.
Denmark too had it's Oric magazines. There were two clubs which were both called 'Oric Klubben' . One seemingly produced magazines called Oric Info of which I have (monthly) issues from June 1984 to October 1984. We don't know how many more there were.
The other club produced a magazine called 65536 which was to be 16 pages each time. We know of magazines up to #6 from mid 1985 and know that the club still existed in 1986 but don't know of any further magazines. At it's height the first club had some 150 members with the second club having 75.
Oric User Monthly didn't get going until Oric closed down ! Robert Cook thought the poor beast needed a bit of support and he produced some magazines which were frankly rather poor . Initially the magazine had a cover but this was soon dropped in favour of printing a page of text. The A4 magazine contained just a few pages and features small reviews of games and some hints and cheats. The first issue arrived in Sept 1987 had just 5 pages of A4 (including the front cover) and was 55p. Robert never expected the magazine to last too long, but by #18 the front cover was back thanks to one Jon Haworth and a column called 'Daves Data' was up and running.
Robert intended to produce software to sell along with the magazine - a vital service for people wanting to use a computer ! He set up a software company and found someone already had the name and so changed it eventually to Mirage. It is somewhat amusing then to find out that there was also a Mirage in existence at that time. (You can find adverts from them in Your Computer etc)
Initially the magazine seems to have been done on a typewriter. Contribution from the like's of Dave Dick were done on the Oric using a decent 80 column printer. In fact Dave produced pages on the Oric for Oric User Monthly for many years.
Things progressed with more contributors and more members saw improvements. By issue 34 Robert had had enough and moved on to other things and so Dave took over the run ning of OUM from issue 35. This arrangement had been made some time previously when , apparently Jon, Dave and Robert had met to discuss OUM. Robert wanted out but Jon and Dave though the magazine was worth saving. Arrangements were made to continue - and thank goodness they did. When IOUG ended most people moved over to the remaining magazine, swelling its ranks. Through this bit of luck and the dedication of people like Dave and Jon, the magazine progressed, providing Oric users in Britain and beyond wi th a useful group how continued to provide software and the support that users needed.
OUM had something of informal approach with Dave not scared to stick in a bit of humour - something that got him in trouble from time to time ! Along with this friendly background there were serious articles from Alan Whittaker, Jon Haworth and Peter Bragg who provided the backbone of the magazine. Without their contributions I doubt the magazine would have lasted - but it did, against all the odds, until Dave decided enough was enough. OUM had kept going for 145 issues (from September 1987 to September 1999) - a remarkable performance considering that for all it's life the Oric was seen as 'commercially dead'.
When it was announced that OUM was to close I was shocked. I thought there was plenty of life left in the Oric yet, and plenty of things we could still do. Rhetoric was an Idea thought up me, but I hated the idea of printing and posting letters etc. I proposed the idea but got so little response I just about gave u p on the idea. Jon Bristow eventually got in touch by phone and persuaded me it would be worth giving it a try. He produced a fake Rhetoric on his website with the idea that it could be an online magazine. He then produced an Oric disk version with the idea that we could produce an electronic magazine like the early JEO disks. These were good but I could see there being extra work involved and I like things being easy. We tried to get support and just about persuaded a ten or twelve people that Rhetoric could work. Simon Ullyatt even sent in an article. None of us could read the emailed document - oh dear. I was getting rather depressed about the situation and said I couldn't see it working whereupon Simon offered to become editor. (I still have the email). We hastily accepted before he had time to refuse and set about organising how we could work this thing.
Simon and Jon managed to produce a first issue in time for the last OUM meet in Aylesbury, August 1999 if I recall correctly. These were sold providing encouragement for further members to join. We had online meetings and agreed to begin the magazine proper after OUM finished so as not to clash with it's production. Issue 2 came out in October and was dated November. That was odd. So we then dated the November issue as the real November issue !
I guess you know the rest. We struggled to get the magazine out. We struggled to meet deadlines and the last issue - #25 was very late ! We had problems and went from being a monthly to a bimonthly magazine to try and help matters . Like the CEO we wanted to produce quarterly disks which we did, until we went bimonthly whereupon the maths got complicated so we produced a disk with every other mag, so three disks a year. Ten disks in all have been produced and our mag will have lasted from August 1999 until February 2003 (well actualy it didn't arrive until months later!!!).
Looking back I think we did quite a good job. There have been some interesting bits and pieces resulting from our efforts, though at the time producing the mag and disks was an arduous task - at times a nightmare ! It's no wonder other magazines didn't last too long !
OUM was proud to call itself, "Europe's Longest Running Oric Magazine", but this was not to remain true as in France a smaller but persistent group of enthusiasts had kept flying the flag for the Oric - and they weren't going away !!
The origins of what was to become Club Europe Oric aren't entirely clear to me. I'll try and explain but excuse me if I get it wrong !
The club started off (by Stephan Sarlande ?) as Club Oric International and they produced an electronic journal on disk which they called Journal Electr'oric or JEO for short. The first JEO disk appeared in January 1987 with JEO 2 being in June. For JEO 3 they changed the name from COI to Club Disc Oric with Vincent Talvas taking over editorship and produced another couple of disks in 1988. It is worth pointing out that in this year France had no printed Oric magazine ! CDO decided to start printing a bulletin in February 1989 and in this year started to bring out quarterly disks. The May bulletin was being produced in English and they were now advertising the CDOSoft disk containing Willy, and a second disk containing Risiko, Yahtzee, Mluch and Oeil de Zoltec.
By this time the structure of the club had settled with Vincent as President, Laurent Chiaccierini translating to English and Jon Haworth acted as the UK agent
The name change occurred again with the club being called Club Europe Oric, but at this time they started to produce a bigger better magazine to accompany the disk, called the JEO Mag. (1990 ? these are undated !) This continued until the double issue 8/9 which features the name CEO-Mag for the first time.
Publication seems to have been a bit sporadic in the early days with a few double issues, by issue 13 though the title of Club Europe Oric was removed in favour of CEO-MAG which remained at the top from then on with more stability in publishing dates and magazine size and quality.
The magazine didn't seem to have so many things happening as OUM, but it did produce some good disks of software (in addition to the regular disks). The magazine maintain a steady flow of information which was enjoyed by quite a few UK readers until issue 80 when Laurent decided he could not continue. He had produced the English version of the CEO-Mag almost single-handed and done a great job, but life takes over - and so the December 1996 was the last English version.
Sadly numbers dropped with both the loss of the English version and the ending of OUM. But still the CEO continue. Wherever possible articles, letters, emails etc are printed in English so they remain a source of information to UK Oricians.
After Rhetoric closed they became the last remaining Oric magazine and they do their best to meet the needs of everybody out there. I can only urge ALL of you to join up. (See the order form elsewhere in the mag). Jonathan Bristow has kindly agreed to take orders for the mag so there is no problem exchanging money. Please give them a try. http://ceo.oric.org
© Copyright 2004 by S.D.Marshall email me