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News & Reviews Index > PCN 3 Nov., 1983 - Cantab Crashes.


Personal Computer News, 3 November 1983
Cantab crashes
By Ralph Bancroft
Jupiter Cantab, manufacturer of the Jupiter Ace, has ceased trading and is to go into liquidation.
The company, which has never employed more than five people, is the latest victim in the increasingly cut-throat microcomputer market.
The Jupiter Ace, in its time, was an innovative computer using Forth as the resident language. The trouble was that the time ran out all too quickly.
The micro has been beset by difficulties for most of the year. The late delivery of expansion memory and software by Jupiter Cantab proved to be a major handicap.
The company has also had its internal problems. One of the founders of the company, Richard Altwasser, who designed the hardware for the machine, left in July and resigned as a director. This left the firm in the hands of
Steven Vickers, its software expert. He was joined by Geoffrey Walker as marketing director.
The changes in the management came at a time when sales of the Ace started to falter. The company stopped advertising in micro magazines, and the Ace dropped out of PCN's top 20 hardware chart at the end of June.
While the Forth language has a dedicated following, few software houses produced programs for the Ace.
One such company is Brighton-based Remsoft, run by John Noyce, who also runs the Jupiter Ace Users Group. Commenting on the demise of Jupiter Cantab Mr Noyce said: 'It's been on the cards for some time. The Ace was the only product it had. It was getting old and its design was not as fully thought out as it could he.'
The next step in the winding up of the company will be a creditors' meeting on November 8
when a liquidator will be appointed.
But the Ace may not disappear. An improved version in a more substantial case, called the 4000, was being made for release in the US. Remsoft is negotiating with Downsway Electronics, which has already manufactured a supply of machines ahead of the launch, to make a limited number of the 4000 for the UK market.
John Noyce said the user group, which has 300 members, will continue in order to help owners of the Ace. He thought that Ace users should not suffer too much by a lack of support for the machine. 'The circuit board of the Ace is well made and not likely to fail. The main problem is the rubber keys wearing out. But many people are already switching over to full travel keyboards,' he said. There were no immediate signs last week of a Newbrain-style rescue bid.