1984 Wren Executive Luggable Computer


This Thorn EMI Wren Executive portable computer dates to 1984. Only around 1000 of these machines were ever made before the small English company went bust and since it was considered by many to have been ahead of its time, is a rare and interesting survivor. With an aluminium body, plastic trim and textured finish this luggable was one of the last CP/M portables to go to market.

It is offered in original condition and turns on to the front installation screen. The lead is a new replacement, the case has some light wear and paint chips to the finish and a small sealed crack on the front of the plastic trim . It comes with its rubber protective front guard (one clip has old damage) and a full set of original booklets and installation floppy disks. I have also tracked down an original travel bag for it which will also be included when it arrives.

We have not tested this computer further yet because it seems the disks are even rarer than the machine, so we want to get some copies safely made first before we try to install them. Two of the eight disks have pencil notes on that suggest they have faults.

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Weighing in at 12kg this was never a light machine, and has certainly been over rather than under engineered. Yet it did manage to sell for the magical £1000 mark making it cheaper than its competitors. The monitor and drive assembly slide over the keyboard for transport and the rubber guard clips over the front to protect the screen. This was a business oriented machine which despite its pedigree (designed by Transam, constructed by Thorn EMi and distributed by Prism Micro-Products) won few admirers visually when it was launched. The software that came with it (written by Quantec Software) was better and was one of the first to employ a clear filing index system for all the pages.

In the end despite its potential the Wren died early because it had arrived to market too late. It was just too heavy when others were scaling down, and the screen was too small to be useful. Interestingly despite some good construction elements there were also silly glitches. One previous Salesman told me that you had to be careful actually carrying it around because if it hit your calf too much the bottom of the case was prone to dent which could sometimes short circuit the board out…….not a great feature for a ‘portable’ computer!

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