The Nascom 1 and 2 were single-board computer kits issued in the United Kingdom in 1977 and 1979, respectively, based on the Zilog Z80 and including a keyboard and video interface, a serial port that could be used to store data on a tape cassette using the Kansas City standard, and two 8-bit parallel ports. At this time, including a full keyboard and video display interface was uncommon, as most microcomputer kits were then delivered with only a hexadecimal keypad and seven-segment display. To minimize cost, the buyer had to assemble a Nascom by hand-soldering about 3,000 joints on the single circuit board.
The original Nascom 1 was designed by Chris Shelton. Shelton’s design work was outlined in a series of articles published in 1977 and 1978 by Wireless World magazine.
2 or 4 MHz (switch on main board)
NAS-BUG 1 (1 KB EPROM)
NAS-SYS 1, most were shipped with NAS-SYS 2 (2 KB ROM)
2 KB (1 KB used for display), exp. to 64 KB
8 KB, exp. to 1 MB
- A debug monitor and simple operating system (OS) was included with the devices. CP/M versions 1.4, 2.2 and 3.0 were also available later.
The display of the Nascom 2 consisted of 48 columns by 16 rows, white characters on black background with no graphics. It was possible to buy an add-on graphics chip (approximate price £20 in 1980) for the Nascom 2 that added another 128 graphics characters. The built-in Microsoft BASIC (8K ROM) interpreter could use these graphics to create a crude, blocky 96×48 graphics display.
The predecessor of Borland's very successful Turbo Pascal compiler and integrated development environment (IDE) for CP/M and DOS was developed by Anders Hejlsberg of Blue Label Software for the Nascom 2, under the name Blue Label Software Pascal, or BLS Pascal.
An interface bus, initially proprietary but quickly superseded by the 80-bus, allowed many other cards to be added to the Nascom, a progression which led to the Gemini 80-bus system which was, for a while, used as an industrial process controller. British Cellophane used several to continuously monitor thickness gauges attached to plastic sheet production lines. An 80-bus compatible network card enabled both Nascoms and Geminis to be used in office environments.
In the early 1980s, the name of the town of Kenilworth was used by one of the first generation of computer retailers, a company called Kenilworth Computers based near the Clock Tower, when it released a version of the Nascom microcomputer with the selling point that it was robust enough to be used by agriculture.