Subliminal Extacy #03
01 апреля 2001

Timex in Portugal

                       Timex in Portugal
                         By Johnny Red

After   Timex   Computer   Corp.   stopped   manufacturing   and
selling computers,  Timex  of  Portugal,  a  Timex   subsidiary,
in 1985 decided   to market  the  Timex  computers in   Portugal
(Portugal wasn't in the   Sinclair market. Due  to  the Sinclair
agreement, the biggest part  of the  european market  was closed
to  Timex.) They took  the TS2068  and made  some modifications,
like a new  version  of the   SLCD chip  for  PAL  TVs, replaced
the buffers between the  SLCD and  Z80 bus  with resistors   and
modified the expansion connector to be more Spectrum compatible,
creating  the  Timex    Computer   2068   (TC2068).     TMX   of
Portugal  knew   the compatibility problem that the  TS2068  had
when running  most  of the ZX  Spectrum programs and  decided to
make a new machine, the Timex Computer 2048 (TC2048).

This  new machine had the SLCD  of the TC2068 and  a ZX Spectrum
ROM with a  little routine  so  it would start with  the correct
video  mode.  After  the TC2048,   TMX  of  Portugal started  to
develop  a floppy  disk interface  and Timex  Operating  System
(TOS),   to work   with  Timex   computers. They  called it  the
Timex FDD,  a separate Z80 computer with  it's own Z80 cpu,  16K
RAM, two serial RS232 ports, a disk controller  and one 3"  disk
drive.  Some people  call it  the FDD3  because it   came in  3
separate boxes  (power  supply/controller/disk  drive) with  the
same   design.  The   Timex FDD   is  far   more  advanced  than
Sinclair Microdrives! TOS have  suport for subdirectories and  a
160K disk format.  One hidden feature  of TOS is  the ability to
format  disks with  640K, using  a 80  tracks/double sided  disk
drive. The Timex FDD controller can control four drives,  giving
a total of almost 2,5MB of direct data access!!

After the launch  of the FDD  system, Timex upgraded  it to work
with CP/M  replacing the  16K RAM   by 64K,  and  putting 2 disk
drives, the controller and the  power supply  in one  box. Timex
name  it   the  FDD3000. Since   the   FDD3000   is a   separate
computer,  TMX of  Portugal  designed  a  terminal  emulator  to
control  CP/M  with a  Timex computer  and  created  the   Timex
Terminal  3000,  a  terminal keyboard  for  FDD3000 to   replace
the Timex   computer  and  the terminal  emulator. TMX  Portugal
also planned a  new  machine for  the  next  generating   of the
Timex  Computer series, the Timex Computer 3256 (TC3256),  a Z80
computer  with 256K of   RAM, disk drives,  network,   ram disk,
new   commands  to   operate   the  new  features  called  Timex
Extended   BASIC,  a    word   processor   in   ROM   and  retro
compatibility with the Spectrum!

TC2068 have  been sold  in the  British market  and the  British
computer press  nick-named the  TC2068 as  the "silver  agenver"
because of  it's spectrum  compatibility. Timex  of Portugal was
managed to export  the TC2068 and  the FDD to  the United States
themselves.  TMX  Portugal  was  working  in  several  areas  of
computer science. It had the  TC project in process and  jointly
worked for Minolta and IBM in the area of networks for computers
of greater productivity. The technology was from the  Portuguese
engineers who were working to enhance networking capabilities in
use in  the great  companies, which  were very  slow by  today's
standards. TMX Portugal had very intelligent people working  for
them at this  time. Because of  that salaries were  high and the
technology  moved as  fast as  the wind.  TMX found  ways to  do
things to  make savings.  The people  working for  TMX were very
intelligent  and knowledge  didn't lack.

The engineers  of  TMX Portugal frequently  went abroad to  take
computer science courses and  they usually ended up   giving the
course that they  attended because their knowledge was  superior
to the course teachers. The TMX engineers  loved their  work  to
the point  that they  "gave their shirts"  for the  company.  In
Dundee, Scotland  there was also a Timex factory. This  division
was  in financial  trouble for  varied reasons,  among them  bad
manufacturing of plates  for their customers.  It is  said  that
only   one  in  three    worked  correctly  (noticable  in   the
manufacture of the Sinclair and Timex Sinclair computers).  This
led to  the company's  losing of  its customer base. Compared to
the production in   Portugal, where the   flaws were 1  in 1000,
the  Scottish  operation  was  in  dire  trouble.  With  massive
unemployment on  the horizon  Margaret Thatcher  negotiated with
Portugal,  through Cavaco  Silva, and  arranged the  tranfer of
everything of TMX of  Portugal to Scotland: know  how, projects,
customers  and  materials,  but without  any  of  the Portuguese
people. The TMX employees went to unemployment lines instead  of
the Scottish employees. My contact, one of the last engineers in
TMX,  handed over  to the  Scotsmen the  whole know  how of  TMX
Portugal. Because of what  happened later, when the  Timex plant
in Scotland finally closed for good, he cannot stand to hear  or
speak of Cavaco Silva and of the responsible minister who  moved
the business. It is not known what Portugal received in exchange
for giving the technology of TMX Portugal to the UK. If this had
not happened, TMX would possibly be a a big player today in  the
area  of computer  science (affirmed  my contact).  During this
process, American Timex, had enormously jealous of TMX  Portugal
(the most  credible is  the independence  that TMX  Portugal had
from  the  Timex  group.  TMX  Portugal  produced,  designed and
repaired all the equipment. Even CP/M was adapted in  Portugal),
It  is  belived that  Timex  America looked  with  favor on  the
closing of Timex of Portugal. It seems obvious, as the  practice
that the governments of the  two countries had arranged, was  in
its thought line.  With relationship to  Timex of Scotland,  the
knowledge and the creative capacity of the Portuguese  engineers
was  no  longer  involved  and  Scotland  Timex  could  not give
continuing continuity to the  projects and works in  process and
it didn't  last very  much longer.  And then  Timex Dundee plant
closed. Many more details could be said concerning this shameful
business, but already  an idea of  everything that happened  has
been presented. There were people  that destroyed the life of  a
great company and of all  its employees and families as  if they
were  nothing.  See  what happens  with  EC  and the  Portuguese
agriculture.... If our understanding  is correct, the TC2048  is
the only computer ever built in Portugal. Just to give an  idea,
TMX Portugal Computer sold only to Poland 200.000 FDD3000  units
and about 700.000 Timex Computers.  



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