All content © 2011 - 2016 Microbee Technology Pty Ltd. ‘Microbee’ and the Bee Logo device are regiistered trade marks.
About Us / History
Before the beginning :
The roots of microbee were laid by an electronic components outlet Applied technology Pty Ltd who developed kit sets for the electronics enthusiasts market. It
was suggested to Applied Technology at the time that a compact, easy to use computer was required for use in schools. Codenamed 'Edcom' the original microbee kit
computer had its core design based on Z80 S-100 systems that had been developed and a video circuit designed (once again as a S-100 card) by David Griffiths. The
name 'Microbee' came into being after a visit to the N.S.W. eduction department by Owen Hill & Matthew Starr who decided that the education computer needed a
name that would not only be easy to remember, but something that would also seem friendly within the school environment.
The beginning :
The microbee came out as a kit computer with the option to have the kit sets built & tested for an extra amount. Due to
the large demand for pre-assembled kits & the microbee winning the N.S.W. education computer contract (along with
Apple), Microbees started rolling out of the factory fully assembled & tested. A new case was introduced and the
microbee came out with the [previously] optional parallel port & a speed upgrade from 2Mhz to 3.375Mhz and full 80 x 24
character mode support. Very soon afterwards a 56k CP/M disk based machine was released.
Public Listing :
The microbee computer was experiencing fantastic support in the marketplace and going
through a rapid growth phase as a result. New models were being released constantly and the
number of staff & outlets had grown. To continue the growth of the business & enable more research &
development, it was decided that a change of name was appropriate and to list on the ASX as Microbee Systems
Ltd (ASX: MSL). Funding from the listing enabled the company to pursue markets overseas (Sweden, Denmark and
as far away as Russia) and also to launch new R & D projects - the 'Gamma' & 'Delta', both ambitious projects that
included brand new casing designs. The 'Gamma' was hoped to be microbee's competitor to the fast approaching
wave of IBM compatible PCs and also machines like the Commodore Amiga. Neither of the projects made it to
production, although the casing for the 'Delta' was then used in subsequent machines such as the Teleterm, 256TC
and later, the Matilda. It has been said that the R & D costs that mounted up through the development of the Gamma killed the company,
and certainly that did play its part, but there were other reasons as well that contributed that are often seen in companies that experience such rapid (rampant?)
After floundering for some time, and the share price suffering, Microbee Systems Ltd was taken over (majority share purchased) by Impact Systems Ltd, another
Australian tech company that had been specialising in printers. It was only a short time later however that Impact Systems shares in Microbee were purchased again
& control of the company was handed (by majority share holding) to Guiseppe and Serafino DeSimone, owners of Microhelp Computers and Communications.
Microhelp had a strong background in the Government and business computing infrastructure arenas and wanted to complement their product / service line in the
areas of home computing and education. Microbee fitted well in those areas. Microbee continued to trade under the name Microcorp P/L T/A Microbee Computer
Centers and brought out another new model code named 640TC and later renamed 'The Matilda' after a naming competition run in schools. The Matilda was an IBM
PCXT clone that had special hardware that made it backward compatible with the vast software collection designed for the earlier Z80 CP/M based machines.
After the takeover by Joe & Serafino DeSimone Microbee continued to trade as the public company and was making some headway in recovering market share &
sales. However, the large debt (in the order of some 2.5 million dollars) was making any gains seem quite insignificant and potential growth very limited at best. At
the request of the board of directors, Microbee Systems Ltd was placed in receivership. On the 20th January 1989, Joe & Serafino DeSimone (trading as Microcorp
P/L ) as the highest bidders, bought the assets (Stock, Intellectual property, Trademarks etc) outright from the receivers. This was a move that set Microbee up in a
much better financial position and gave much needed room for growth. It was then that the 640TC / Matilda development could take place.
Microbee (Microcorp P/L Trading as Microbee Technology Centres) continued to trade until the early 1990's when the influx of PC clones well & truly took over the
marketplace. Microbee was not the only brand to suffer this fate with its competitors in the education & home computing arenas such as Apple & Commodore
suffering steep declines in market share as well. The Microbee Matilda was a step in the right direction offering a excellent upgrade path to MS-DOS as an XT
compatible while still running the old Z80 based CP/M software. However, due to a long development time & technical issues it was not enough to sustain sales.
Microbee’s doors closed and the remaining stock and other assets were put into storage sometime in 1992.
As for the Public company, the 'company' shell was sold and became 'The McGarry Corporation of Australia'. The McGarry Corporation 'leased' the Gamma technology
(from Microcorp P/L) for use, and to fund (through the IR&D scheme) development of a diesel injection system & engine management computer. After another
period, what was MSL was sold on again and became Thomson Couplings Ltd.
In March 2001, the holdings of Microcorp P/L (the I.P. , naming rights and some stock) were then transferred to Metrocomp P/L.
The New Microbee :
I am delighted to be able to re-launch the famous Microbee brand. Having first been an enthusiast & later working for the company in sales, service and R & D,
Microbee has been a large part of my life. Like so many others, the microbee computer helped launch my I.T. and electronics career. With the full encouragement &
support (which I am very thankful for) from Joe & Serafino DeSimone and also Owen Hill, the microbee name lives once again as Microbee Technology Pty Ltd, a
wholely Australian & privately owned entity.
Welcome to the new Microbee & thank you for your interest.
Ewan J. Wordsworth