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N > NCR  > Decision Mate V   

Decision Mate V

An other CP/M / MSDOS hybrid system. This computer had no great commercial success.

The Decision Mate V came with 128 KB of RAM, but could be upgraded to 256 or 512 KB with expansion cards. The serial and Centronics interfaces were not on the mainboard, but were added as expansion cards. An additional card with a 68000 was developed by NCR in order to use CP/M 68.

There were 7 expansion slots. An optional diagnostic card was available for slot 6. Otherwise, diagnostics were produced through 6 red LEDs on the back of the case, above the volume control.

The computer had two floppy drives, or only one + a Winchester hard drive mounted in the second bay.

A network called 'DecisoNet' was designed to link together several Decision V.


Contributors: Sebastian Rho.

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In the early 1980’s, I was an administrator at SOITA at Miami University in Ohio. SOITA was a non-profit, technology service agency to 200 school districts in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. We started offering computer hardware and software discount purchasing to our member schools. We sold an average of about 3 million dollars worth of computer hardware (mostly Apple) annually in the 1980s. NCR, headquartered in Dayton, wanted to explore the school computer market. They contacted us and donated 10 Decision Mate 5 units so we could try them out. They also donated several machines to schools around Dayton. I remember doing a few activities on the machine (I took one home) but found it difficult to operate for someone that had no computer background. In the meantime, we purchased several Apple IIe’s and were able to utilize inexpensive but high quality educational software from the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) and AppleWorks. All of this software was on 5.25 floppy disks. AppleWorks was an easy to learn utility program that gave us word processing, database and spread sheet capabilities. So the easy to use Apple IIe became the machine of choice for our schools driven by high quality and easy to use software. MECC was also a non-profit like SOITA and gave SOITA generous duplication rights to their educational software under a licensing agreement. SOITA duplicated $ distributed tens of thousands of MECC 5.25 disks to our member schools. MECC developed new educational programs every year that kept their products (like Oregon Trail and Number Munchers) very popular. Unfortunately for NCR, they were late to the school computer marketplace. There was no easy way to use high quality educational software for their DM 5. Eventually for schools, NCR ran into the classic situation for their DM 5 “they couldn’t give them away.” IBM, Commodore, Radio Shack and Atari had small footprints in the educational computing marketplace at this time. Their platforms were mostly easy to use and some software did exist (some through MECC). Eventually, after a decade, IBM $ Microsoft became strong rivals to Apple (and the Macintosh Computer) in the school market. MECC dissolved as a state supported non-profit and became a private company. NCR ceased to show interest in the educational marketplace after this failed experience. Their manufacturing and headquarters in Dayton eventually shut down with the HQ moving to Atlanta. SOITA eventually was no longer able to sell discounted hardware or software through group purchasing (Apple and MECC eliminated their volume purchasing structures) and concentrated their activities on teacher training. I was disappointed after reviewing Steve Jobs’s autobiography that he did not give much (if any) credit to the educational community for the early success of Apple. Once children started learning computer skills on an Apple II or Mac computer at school, they took that knowledge home and drove home purchases to Apple. I am guessing our early computer experiences in Ohio were similar to others throughout the country. So, in my opinion, the education marketplace was primarily responsible for Apple’s success. The software drove the hardware purchasing. This story could have been rewritten for any computer platform (including NCR) had high quality, easy to use software been available.

Thursday 4th March 2021
David Gibson (USA)

My father Cleveland District Administration Manager of NCR and purchased one in 1982. I have it in my basement. I turn it on sometimes to allow "Children" under 30 to see how spoiled they are. Rare anybody has known how to activate anything.

Friday 26th July 2019
Rich Medlar (Cleveland, OH, USA)

Yo trabaj de analista-programador en NCR durante varios aos (1981-1986) y poseo desde entonces un NCR-DM-V que costaba 1.500.000 Pesetas (RAM 256MB, HD 10MB y disquetera 3 1/2). En Espaa ese era su precio, por otro lado, ms o menos lo que costaba un PC-IBM pero el NCR-DM-V era un producto de mejor calidad y mejores prestaciones.
Lo tengo bien guardado, con sus disquetes de RM-COBOL, CP/M y MS-DOS y funcionando todo correctamente.

I worked as an analyst-programmer at NCR for several years (1981-1986) and since then I had a NCR-DM-V costing 1,500,000 pesetas (256MB RAM, 10MB HD and 3 1/2 floppy disk). In Spain that was its price, on the other hand, more or less what cost an IBM PC but the NCR-DM-V was a product of better quality and better performance.
I have it well saved, with its RM-COBOL, CP / M and MS-DOS floppy disks and running everything correctly.

Tuesday 26th September 2017
Fernando Baldellou (Madrid/España)


NAME  Decision Mate V
TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  1984
KEYBOARD  Typewriter type 91 keys with 20 programmable function keys and numeric keypad
CPU  Zilog Z80 - Optional Intel 8088 or Motorola 68008
SPEED  4.88 MHz (8088) / 4 MHz (Z80)
RAM  64 kb, 128 kb, 256 kb or 512 kb depending of models (through expansion cards)
VRAM  32 KB (monochrome mode) or 96 KB (colour mode)
ROM  Unknown
TEXT MODES  40 or 80 columns x 25 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  576 x 432 dots
COLORS  Monochrome built-in display (green / black)
SOUND  Beeper
I/O PORTS  Centronics, RS232, 7 expansion slots
BUILT IN MEDIA  One or two floppy disk drives (320 KB each), 10 to 30 MB hard disk
OS  MSDOS 2.1, CP/M or CP/M 86 or CP/M 68K
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply unit
PRICE  Unknown

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