17

I am preparing a BBC Model B micro computer for sale which has been in storage and needs cleaning. There is a 3½" diskette drive with it, which was unfortunately stored with the slot uppermost and there is a lot of dust inside the drive itself.

When I opened the case I was suprised to see that the mounting looks like a bodge. It appears to be hacked from a storage box for 5¼" floppies.

Is there any way this could be an "original" drive? IOW is there any point trying to clean it up, or should I just bin it?

enter image description here

enter image description here

This website says

In addition to the floppy disk drives distributed by Acorn Computers, a number of companies offered disk drive upgrades for the BBC Micro, including Akhter, Cumana, Opus, Torch and Watford Electronics. These companies did not manufacture the drives, but used a range of hardware from manufacturers such as Chinon, NEC and Teac.

So can I presume this Akhter drive is a (badly made) aftermarket peripheral, not an original component supplied by Acorn?

16
  • 1
    @Raffzahn the location on the plate really is a garage (now) as seen on Google Street View. Sep 20 at 12:21
  • 1
    @Raffzahn thank you, I'll just sell it along with computer, as it to seems to represent a bit of computer history. Sep 20 at 12:27
  • 1
    Sounds fair - and the better decision anyway. Good luck.
    – Raffzahn
    Sep 20 at 12:33
  • 2
    Re, "can I presume this Akhter drive is a (badly made) aftermarket peripheral...?" Looks like Akhter sold something in the cream-colored plastic box. Don't know what it was, but that doesn't matter. It's gone now. Somebody else re-used the box, and hacked up the blue plastic to fit an Epson diskette drive into it. Don't ask about the value of the Akhter box. Ask about the value of the Epson drive. Sep 20 at 12:50
  • 3
    It could also be a badly made "home upgrade" to an Akhter diskdrive. SS40TK (Single side, 40 tracks), DS40TK (double side, 40 tracks) and SS80TK (single side, 80 tracks) are clearly 5.25 inch parameters. DD80TK (Double side, 80 Tracks) could be a 3.5 inch drive or a 5.25 inch drive. So it could have been sold as a 5.25 inch drive. On the other hand, the date codes I can find on the electronics in the drive says 1984, so it could be leggit.
    – UncleBod
    Sep 20 at 12:55

2 Answers 2

20

Akhter was a home computer dealer, based in Harlow. The company still exists at a new address, now called Akhter Group plc (but probably not still selling BBC Micros!).

They were the largest sellers of the BBC Micro in the area at the time, and I bought my first BBC B from them.

They also rebadged various peripherals and expansions for the Beeb. The quality of these devices varied. The actual manufacturer varied over time.

So, your drive isn't necessarily badly made but it is not originally made for the BBC Micro.

I saw various Akhter-badged drives used on BBCs in those days, with no major problems of which I am aware. I never owned one.

4
  • 2
    Thanks for answering. I don't know who supplied the computer. It looks increasingly certain that it wasn't a poorly made disk drive, but altered by someone later. Akhter's postal address shown is for two adjacent industrial units, so they must have been rather more than a risky "back room" operation. Sep 20 at 16:08
  • 3
    There is still a company named Akhter Computers based in Harlow that claims to be founded 1979, so it seems then survived.
    – UncleBod
    Sep 20 at 18:10
  • Additionally @WeatherVane, back-room outfits didn't normally go to the trouble of having a Telex number, which certainly supports your thinking. Sep 21 at 7:17
  • 1
    @TobySpeight I see that records submitted to Companies House show Akhter Instruments Limited moved their premises and evolved into Akhter Group PLC. Sep 21 at 7:35
8

This is the front of the Akhter 5.25" drive unit: enter image description here and the rear: enter image description here

As you can see the dates and serial numbers aren't that different.

July 1986 is quite early for a 3.5" drive to be attached to the BBC Micro - the Master Compact was the first official machine and only launched in September of that year. So my money would be that what you have is a 'homebrew' conversion of an existing enclosure, maybe some years later. Somebody removed the 5.25" mechanism, fitted a new 3.5" mechanism, and made a new adapter plate out of whatever material was to hand. It's not dissimilar to the 5.25->3.5" adapters used in PC drive bays today.

3
  • 1
    Nice pics, thanks for adding.
    – Raffzahn
    Sep 22 at 14:08
  • Actually, I found a ref to the Plus 3 interface for the Electron from March 1985 and a review from December 1985. So perhaps not a full picture to say 3.5" drives weren't around in that period, although the Master Compact was the first to have them as standard. Sep 22 at 16:08
  • That's not the only style of Ahkter drive — we had one in the same case, but instead of a rotating latch, it had a pull-down bar just like these drives. (To eject, you pressed the area below the bar; the disk then sprang out.) IIRC, the 40/80-track switch was on the back too.
    – gidds
    Sep 23 at 0:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.