Software emerged as the successor to Locomotive Systems in the late
1990s they starting selling a range of PCs designed to replace the
ageing and/or failing machines of PCW users. Essentially their range
consisted of five models:-
1. The Starter PC, a 286-based IBM compatible with MSDOS and Loco PC Easy installed.
later replaced by -
2. The Starter PC 2, a 486, DRDOS 7 & PC Easy. (LSPro2/Plus was available at a small premium).
3. The Basic PC (a Cyrix 233) MSDOS & LSPro2/Plus
4. The Budget PC (Cyrix 300), Windows 98 & LSPro2/Plus
and the top-of-the-range was -
5. Windows PC (MkIII Cyrix 333). Windows 98 full multi media, Lotus Smart Suite & LSPro2/Plus.
Prices ranged from £299-£899. LocoScript expected the Starter PC to be popular as it basically just ran LS but most customers opted for the Windows machine which placed their support dept under strain as many migrating PCW owners couldn't cope with the wonders of Microsoft. As detailed in The LocoScript History web page, there were also serious problems with manufacturers and warranty companies going bust. Such was (is) the cut and thrust of the PC market where profit margins are paper thin.
After the takeover, SD Microsystems reintroduced a Loco PC range in 2000 with a range of high quality ex-corporate desktops and then added a Loco Laptop model for the first time. We too suffered problems but these were mostly concerned with couriers managing to break or lose things with depressing frequency. Parcel Farce were the worst, once sending two boxes containing a monitor and system to different ends of the country for no apparent reason other than sheer incompetence! What also became obvious was that ageing brains do not cope well with ANY change, even when moving from one version of LocoScript to another (PCW>PC). Eventually, we discontinued the desktop Loco PCs in favour solely of the Loco Laptops which in many ways are truer to the original concept of the PCW with computer & screen all-in-one. They were also safer to transport in a single box often by first class post. Essentially there were three models in the range:-
1. Loco Laptop Standard. Simply a 486 or Pentium 1 based machine with just MSDOS v 6 and LSPro2/Plus pre-installed on the hard drive. Switch on and you are taken straight into the LS Disc Manager screen. Most were Toshibas though we used a few other makes such as IBM (ThinkPads).
2. Loco Laptop Advanced Series 1. These were mostly Pentium IIs such as the Toshiba Satellite Pros with a typical 64MB RAM and a 6GB hard drive and built-in floppy plus a CD-Reader, Windows 98 & LSPro2/Plus. The integral modem was good enough to offer a basic internet connection in the days when you could dial it up! No costly contract and about 1p a minute. Ideal for those requiring casual browsing and email facilities. We found Win98 to be quite reliable but also offered the option to start the system from floppy (or a menu) in LocoScript.
3. Loco Laptop Advanced Series 2. Last of the line offering more memory (typically 500MB and 30GB HDD) and Windows XP with a wireless adaptor for connection to a broadband router. LSPro2/Plus and a floppy drive are still part of the package of course. The actual amount of system RAM actually makes no difference to LS which uses EMS, configured from within the program's parameters under XP. Although USB slots are provided, LS still uses the old standard PAR port for printing. This is the ultimate compromise between old and new technology. As suitable hardware ages, it is increasingly difficult to source and for this reason the Loco Laptop range has been officially discontinued although we might still be able to supply a system on special request in the foreseeable future.
We have no sales figures for the original LocoScript range. However, we sold well over 100 Loco Desktop PCs and the Loco Laptops takes this to a total of around 200. The last being sold to an old customer just a few weeks ago at the time of writing. Naturally, countless other users made their own hardware arrangements evidenced by the >1000 copies we have sold of LSPC in various formats.
Loco Laptop Advanced S2