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BT Merlin Tonto
The Tonto was a rebadged ICL OPD — One Per Desk — an unusual project that saw UK mainframe company ICL take the internals of a Sinclair QL and rebuild them in a desktop computer that included telephony and a 1200/75bps modem. The idea was that this would be a universal office PC, with built-in Psion XChange software — word processor, database, drawing and spreadsheet functions — and microdrive data storage.
The end result was surprisingly usable and on paper had a very good chance of establishing itself as a useful system. However, poor marketing and general bafflement saw it relegated to history's footnotes. Perhaps its most endearing feature was a voice synthesiser designed for answering machine messages; it had a vocabulary of a couple of hundred words with an office theme, but it was possible to make it say mildly racy things — "I am having my secretary under the table. Please call back".
Photo credit: Rupert Goodwins