we speak about a mythical computer: the Stratos, not to be confused with
the Telestrat. The story starts at the end of the year 1984. Oric,
after the relative success of the Oric-1 and the Atmos, especially in
France, start to work on successors to these machines. They then
have in project an IBM compatible based on the INTEL 8086 with a tape-recorder
interface (!), a 8086 portable, a MSX, a competitor for the QL and finally
a true successor to the Atmos: the Stratos, also code-named IQ164.
then the beginning of the short life of the Stratos which will live only
for a few months and will for wich only maybe 5 or 6 specimens will be
created ! After the purchase of Oric by the French company Euréka in June
85, the Stratos project considered too weak, was completely re-examined
to finally become the Telestrat, more known now than its obscure ancestor.
WHAT DOES IT LOOKS LIKE ?
Well, we can say about its external aspect is that it is exactly the same
thing as the Telestrat: red and black design like the Atmos, even the
same keyboard though the touch seemed to be more pleasant (according to
some journalists of the time); two Atari standard joystick plugs on each
side of the beast, a reset button on the left side and two cartridge slots
on the top.
Stratos specimen, in particular the one seen in December 84 inside the
Oric Research Center buildings in Cambridge or the one presented by ASN
at Micro-Expo in Paris in February 85, seemed to have a non-tilted surface
where the cartridge slots are, whereas the model that have Euréka in March
85 or simply the Telestrat, have a tilted surface there. This small detail
is for a lot of people the successful detail which makes the Telestrat
design so nice.
AND WHAT'S INSIDE
Well, inside it depends! Indeed as the Stratos is a prototype it did not
stop to evolve during the few month of its short existence, and I don't
speak here about the fact that there surely must have been various different
models scattered between Oric U.K., ASN and Euréka, the two last being
competitors for the purchase of Oric at the beginning of 85.
the model presented by ASN to Micro-Expo in Paris in February 85 is just
an empty case! The plugs are not welded and some are just missing! It
should be noted that the underneath of this Stratos is black, as opposed
to the Stratos owned by Euréka whose lower part was red (just like the
the Stratos is only a "super" Atmos, nothing more. It uses a
6502 at 1mhz, It has 64 KB of RAM but only leaves 37 KB free to the user,
less than the Oric-1 ! Thanks to "rom-packs" plugged into the
cartridge ports, it can have up to 112 KB of ROM. Its graphic resolution
is identical to those of its little brothers: 240x200 in 8 colors, and
40x28 in text mode. But a high-resolution / 80 col. mode was planned with
16 colors and no proximity-conflict.
sound, the Stratos still uses the same Yamaha processor (AY-3-8912) as
improvements compared to the Atmos must be noted : a real full page editor
quite useful. The tape save/load code is supposed to have been completely
rewritten and is now much more reliable. The transfer is done by blocks
of 1,5 KB at a maximum speed of 2400 bauds.
connections there are :
a RF video output
a Péritel/Scart video output, self supplied (improvement compared to the
a diskdrive port (Shugart standard)
an expansion port identical to the one of the Atmos/Oric-1
a RS232c plug
a Parallel/Centronics port
and a modem connector on the english model, since in France it was forbiden
to use a modem not approved by the french PTT authorities.
from the very start of the project, the idea of a machine opened to the
telecommunications is present. If the Telestrat is a " telematic
" computer it is mainly because of the Stratos project...
The Stratos is entirely compatible with the Atmos since both ROMs are
integrated into the machine. You just have to type "ATMOS" and
the computer becomes an Atmos!
The BASIC is stored in a rom-pack cartridge. It's the same BASIC as the
Atmos but with about thirty new statements:
statements like XSAVE, XLOAD, SPRINT to communicate with an external device
or another computer through the RS232 port,
a SETFUN statement which finally makes it possible to manage the function
surprising 3D statements like MOVE3D and DRAW3D which make it possible
to define 3D plans and to draw directly on them,
and several other small additions to manage graphics and sound.
The whole thing is managed by a powerful operating system, the RANDOS
(Random Access Directory Operating System). The RANDOS is cool but needs
room, that's why there's not much free memory left for the user (RANDOS
was not specific to the Stratos and was written for the Atmos by G. Cornell.)
According to several sources, a CP/M cartridge using a Z80 was practically
ready but nobody ever saw the color of it... The CPU would have run at
4 Mhz and the user would have had 52 KB of memory free. If this card existed,
it would truly have given the Stratos an extra range of theoricaly compatible
What one can say today is that the Stratos must have existed in very few
specimens, each one being undoubtedly more or less different. The version
which was given to Eureka when they bought back Oric U.K. proved to be
insufficient. So they developped a new computer from it, and as ASN held
the rights of the name "Stratos" in France, they called their
new machine Telestrat
! But that's another story..
+ Good mechanical keyboard
+ Powerful operating system
+ Interesting 3D statements
+ Built-in Modem
+ Compatibility with the Atmos
Kill born, just a prototype
- Not much memory left under Basic
- Not much improvement in graphic resolution
compared to the Atmos