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O > OLIVETTI  > A5   


Olivetti introduced a mainframe about 1960 which was called ELEA, then in 1965 the Programma 101 - which was probably the world's first real desktop computer. Then a little later they introduced the Audiotronic range of "office computers". The first was the A770, which was replaced by the A7. The A5 was the desktop version.

The Olivetti Audit 5 or A5 was largely an electro mechanical computer. It printed via a golf ball typewritter mechanism at the astonishing speed of 16 character per second (CPS).

It was a machine that was designed to meet a use that was quickly dying out at the time, visual record computers, that is electronic ledger machines. These were fast being replaced by screen based computers.

According to a former australian computer reseller (Geoff Greig), the A5 and A6 models had problems were they would catch on fire!

He also recalls: "Some of the customers I had would start printing a report at close of business one day and come in the next morning to find it still printing. However the print mechanism being so mechanical often such a big print run would result in a breakdown. I tink Olivetti in Australia made more money out of Maintaince agreements than selling computers.
And the sound was liike a machine gun. Not the sort of thing you would was to having printing beside you. Some people even made giant sound boxes to put them it to try and reduce the noise.
The 2030 had a dot matrix printer that printed at the outstandind 100 cps and was much more reliable.

The BCS 2030 (BCS stands for Business Computer System) was a vast improvement on the the machine the Olivetti A5. The BCS 2030 Floppy disk version replaced the A6. The A6 being an A5 with a dual 128K floppy drives and still the 16 CPS printer.

Here is what says about the A5:
"The Audit A5, introduced in 1974, is an accounting system with the characteristics of a real computer. It has a central unit (Micro 8, designed Olivetti), RAM, hard disk and removable disks, magnetic cards, adjustable, built-in printer, the programming language BASIC owner (LIMO, Interactive machine language Olivetti). As the "elder brother" A7, presented simultaneously, the system A5 is designed with the logic of modular and can be expanded according to user needs, such as the A7 has no video, but unlike ' A7, which looks like a desk job, the A5 is a desktop machine. The design is reminiscent of the typewriter, also to be more easily accepted by the environment secretary. E 'marketed with an extensive library of programs for various applications in the accounting and administration."


Contributors: Daniel Moffat, Geoff Greig.

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I worked with this machine a5 in a banks stock and share dept. 6 7 years I was the main operator of 2 a5s I was full time and ended up with the dreaded RSI. A lot of data was with the numerical keyboard with my arm suspended I was quite fast some batches took 3 hours and I estimated 100,000 strokes on peak days . The a5 broke down a lot and the technician said they were not meant to do so much work. Data was recorded on a cassette and print out paper. It was fazed out 1983 with the VDUs installed. I have no photos I had 6 months off to recover from tenosynovitis and neck bursitis no compensation really only improving now with constant chiropractic new methods no work breaks then and because I was only one not good memories but a zippy machine that typed well on certificates and was a bit noisy. With the VDUs came ergonomic chairs

Wednesday 16th March 2011
jan (Melbourne)

i worked on these from 1976 until 1979 they were very prone to breaking due to the large amount of mechanical assemblies in them. we sold them for 25000 including a desk and a brd dual disc drive half of the price was software half hardware. the brd disc drive was made in washington state and used 8 inch memorex hard sectored discs

Wednesday 11th January 2023
william keesler (United States)

Worked for Olivetti USA as a Customer Software Rep., in 1976.
Had to approve (debug) the custom programs delivered by the programmers.
Very interesting debugging in Basic Assembly Language, and even weirder is that the BAL worked in Base-10.

By the way those Paper/Mag cards were the only things I could never get people to believe existed.

Wednesday 3rd January 2018
Pete Barnes (USA)


TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  1974
KEYBOARD  QWERTY mechanical keyboard with numeric keypad
CPU  Mostek 6048 ?
SPEED  Unknown
ROM  Unknown
TEXT MODES  Text output via paper sheets
COLORS  2 printing colors ?
SIZE / WEIGHT  Unknown
I/O PORTS  Unknown
BUILT IN MEDIA  Paper magnetic card with 256 bytes storage
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply
PRICE  Unknown

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