Haven’t you heard of Pravetz 16?
Ok, let us take you back in the 80’s in Bulgaria.Pravetz 16 is one of the first personal computers built in Bulgaria. It has been widely used in the Eastern countries and produced in massive quantities. Marking the digital revolution in Bulgaria and the Eastern Bloc, Pravetz 16 will remain a precious memory in the life of those who have used it for the first time.
The first computers IMCO-1
In fact, this is not the first computer manufactured in Bulgaria. Didn’t you know computers have been made there? The first computer in Bulgaria was completed in 1980 and was called IMCO-1. The very first developments were based on an unpopular foreign model, using Intel processor.
IMCO had integrated the operating system, at the beginning produced in just a few pieces, soon it was introduced to university laboratories for further exploration. IMCO 1 made its revolution at a Robotics Forum in London, controlling a robotic hand. It was a great success at this time, considering countries like Japan and the US used minicomputers, but not microcomputers for robot controllers.
IMCO 2 was soon released. Unlike the first version was based on the successful Apple II Plus model, and it was fully compatible with Apple. Hundreds of computers were built, offered to schools, and not much later the idea of batch production evolved.
With the demand for batch production came the idea of transiting the manufacturing in the city of Pravetz. The computer was renamed as well, giving birth to the Pravetz 82- first mass-produced computer in Bulgaria.
Pravetz 82 was an 8-bit system, using mainly locally produced parts and elements. For those who are not aware of Eastern Bloc restriction, foreign goods were under restraint. Thus locally manufactured products should use internal materials. In the future years, many improved version of the eight series were released. The new versions included more memory, two processors, internal power supply.
The production capacity of Pravetz computers was planned to reach 100 000 units per year for export, though the highest number reached 60 000 units, which was still 40% of the computers used in the Eastern Bloc countries. Perhaps you’ll be surprised to know the revenue gained from computer manufacturing was near $13.3 billions on an annual base.
The 80’s were times when the demand for computers pushed companies to built equivalents of the great Western computers, such as Apple and IBM designs. Pravetz 16 was the new generation Bulgarian computers, released in 1984 and based on IBM’s PC/XT. It was 16-bit architecture following Western tendencies to improve the speed and memory of the computer.
The future models of Pravetz 16 included 1MB operating memory and 20MB of hard drive space, some of the computers from the second generation Pravetz had an option for two hard drives. Pravetz 16 series had DOS operating system. It was widely used on IBM’s computers and later of the first Microsoft computers. This machine had 16-bit graphic interface, which means 16 colors.
Soon the communist regime in Bulgaria met its end. Followed by the economic crisis, and in 1989 Pravetz computers went out of production. This was until 2014 when the Pravetz brand was bought by a private investor to bring the traditional computers back to life with the new ultrabook laptop Pravetz 64M.
We observe this technological evolution from the position of fully satisfied users, unfamiliar with slow machines and 16-bit colors, but the first computers laid the path for today’s compact laptops.