RAIR Advert - March 1983
From Personal Computer World
RAIR: The box is not always black
A nice advert from RAIR showing the company's credentials as an OEM supplier, with the company's original "Black Box" showing up as the Innsite micro, Ryman business computer, and most famously as ICL's Personal Computer.
None of these machines were PCs in the IBM sense, but were more like desktop minicomputers, with their support for multiple users.
RAIR's own incarnation of this machine - the RAIR Black Box - was still doing the rounds in the guise of ICL's personal computer, to which it had licenced the internals, and the company was also helping ICL out in developing its product range.
Perhaps this included ICL's upcoming range of DRS (Distributed Resource System) modular computers, but there were also rumours that ICL was working on something to take on Apple's Lisa.
This was something of an easy target as the Lisa was retailing for a truly-staggering £8,500 (about £33,600 in 2024 money), so even behemoth and supplier-to-governments ICL reckoned it could undercut it by £2,000.
For a while, some commentators in the press, in particular Guy Kewney of Personal Computer World, seemed to hold out hope that RAIR might have become Britain's leading micro company, until founder Mark Potts took his company more in to the multi-user business instead.
Despite RAIR choosing to follow that particular path, Prudential Assurance still put £1 million of equity in to the company - said by Personal Computer News to be "one of the UK's best-established micro makers" - in August of 1983, with money coming from the Merchant Navy Officers' Pension Fund.
At the time, pension funds were regularly raided to raise investment capital, with Prudential having previously used the National Coal Board's pension fund to buy in to Dragon.
As well as the injection of capital from the Pru, RAIR was building up its dealer network and spinning off its terminal business as RTS Technology.
RTS was to take on the competition from companies such as Hazeltine - whose products RAIR had previously been supplying back in 1979 - TI, Centronics, Qume and IBM.
The MD of the new company - Bob Mountain - said "RTS intends eventually to sell complete systems, not necessarily built by RAIR".
RAIR's Nick Flowerdew (left) welcomes back the RAIR-sponsored Mk. 2 Astra at Dover. © Personal Computer World January 1987RAIR was still around in 1987, where Personal Computer World referred to its sponsoring of a car in the annual Beaujolais Run from Villefrance to Dover, where RAIR's marketing director Nick Flowerdew was on hand to welcome the drivers back as they crossed the finishing line.
The event - which bought back immature and often undrinkable first bottles from that year's vintage to be sold to yuppies in fashionable wine bars at over-the-odds prices - was, needless to say, all the rage in the 1980s.
Personal Computer World grumbled that although they appreciated RAIR sending them a photo of the event, they were upset that their "bottle of plonk" must have gone missing in the post.
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