Access Matrix Corp. (San Jose, Calif.)

The founder of the Access Matrix owned another company that supplied components to Osborne Computer. Seeing the success of Osborne, he asked Jay Berg to design a better CP/M-based portable computer. He did so using off-the-shelf components and added capabilities.

Access Matrix laid claim (questionably) that the Access was the first all-in-one portable, integrating a printer and acoustic coupler into the unit. The Computer Devices DOT system and the Sharp PC-5000 had similar features around the same time. More components mean more potential points of failure. Fortunately, the printer mechanism is the same used in the popular Epson MX-80 FT with Graftrax Plus, so parts should be easy to find.

In late 1983, the company changed its name to Actrix Computer Corp. and the name of the computer to Actrix after losing a trademark lawsuit. At the same time it also offered an 8088 coprocessor option so the Actrix could run MS-DOS. For a short while, the computers kept the Access brand before changing to Actrix.

To stand out from competitors, Access Matrix was perhaps the first computer maker to use late-night TV advertising to sell its products. According to Berg, this effort was very successful.

Actrix introduced true PC-compatible portables in 1985. They featured a larger screen and a Citizen printer mechanism rather than Epson. A PC-compatible desktop was also announced, but it is uncertain whether any were ever sold.

It’s not clear when production of the Access/Actrix computers ended. The company laid off most of its staff and continued to assemble and sell systems from parts on hand for several years after that.

Model: Access Matrix Access (Feb. 1983, transportable)
Original Retail Price: $2,495
Base Configuration: Z80A CPU; CP/M 2.2; 64K RAM; dual 5.25-inch floppy disk drives; integral 7-inch monochrome CRT; keyboard/keypad; two RS-232C, parallel, and IEEE-488 ports; MBASIC or C BASIC; application suite; integral printer and acoustic coupler; leather carrying case
Size/Weight: 16.13 x 10 x 10.75 inches, 33 lbs.
Important Options: 8088 coprocessor with MS-DOS (Actrix), battery pack

Literature:

1983_Access_Matrix_Access_Portable_Computer_brochure
1983_Access_Matrix_Access_brochure2
1984_Actrix_DS_portable_brochure

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. Hello:

    I have an Access (before they changed name to Actrix) computer in excellent condition and with all of the original software (disks). Only thing wrong with it is it is missing a plastic pin for the printer cover. I also have the software books somewhere in the house, but can’t find them. I will keep looking for them.

    I’m looking to sell the Access. Given its rarity and that it was the first truly “portable” computer (at 33 lbs LOL) that included a printer and phone coupler modem, I know it has great value and I’m looking for a good home for it. I saw an ad several months ago from someone selling the Actrix version and they were looking for $3k, which I thought a bit high as it wasn’t the original Access version like I have.

    Any guidance or suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. I don’t have a record of any recent Access Matrix or Actrix-branded system sale prices. I agree that the $3,000 asking price you saw was unrealistic. I have seen a brand new, never used Osborne 1 sell for $3,000, but that’s an anomaly. Top dollar for a used Osborne in great working condition would be around $700, maybe $1,000 on a good day. I expect that your system in working condition and good cosmetic shape would sell for no more than $300. The problem is that a lot of vintage computer enthusiasts gravitate to well-known brands like Apple or Commodore. The market for an off-brand like Access Matrix is more limited.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: