Oric 1/Atmos

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The Oric 1 and Oric Atmos were 6502-powered competitors to the 48kb ZX Spectrum. The Oric 1 has very much the same form factor, including calculator-style keys, but the Oric Atmos provides a full-travel keyboard.

Originally one of the competitors for the contract to be the BBC computer that was ultimately awarded to Acorn, the Oric retains an unusual mixed text/graphics display mode that utilises inline colour attributes.

The Oric's display is 40 bytes across. Each of those bytes may be a control code (to change foreground or background colour, enable or disable graphics mode, etc) or actual content. While in text mode, the content is a character code and the character graphic is looked up indirectly. While in graphics mode, the content is a direct representation of the pixels on that line.

Due to the need to include both control codes and completely-addressable graphics, in graphics mode each byte contains only six pixels ― a seventh bit is used optionally to invert the available colours. So the 40-byte display is at most 240 pixels. In practice it is usually less because of the need to establish foreground and background colours in the leftmost columns.

An AY is provided as the sound chip, exactly as on the CPC.

The Oric is also notable for shipping initially with a buggy ROM that made loading and saving from tape extremely unreliable. This was corrected in later manufacturing runs.

The Oric machines were not successful in the UK during their commercial lifetime but obtained a dedicated following in France by luck: the Orics were the only machine in their price range to ship with an RGB output socket, which made them the only machine in their price range to be usable with French SECAM televisions, via their SCART(/Peritel) sockets.