back to article RM boss says school's out forever

RM yesterday announced that its head teacher honcho has resigned after more than 25 years with the computer supplier. The firm, which specialises in software, services and systems for the UK education market, said that chief executive Tim Pearson will step down from his role to be replaced by current group managing director …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear! Never liked them!

    They were just coming into my school when I was studying my GCSEs back in 1987, but around the same time luckily my old man, not an IT techie in anyway at that time, realised that bog standard x86 PCs were the way things were going and somehow managed to afford a good PC for him and my Mum and cheap Amstrad 1640 for me, rather than let me rely on having to use the RM machines at school.

    I hated the fact that everything you learned on early RM machines was almost like playing in a simulation of a PC, nothing seem genuinely real, unlike an x86 which had...DOS,GEM Desktop, Ventura, AutoCAD then later Windows 2.1, all gleefully swapped amongst us spotty IT geeks at school! I'm sure RM started a lot of people on the road to realising that computers were the thing to get into, but after having your PC at home, nothing else could compare with x86.

    Now look at the mess we're all in!!!

  2. NickS
    Dead Vulture

    RM - Return to Manufacturer

    And we sent a LOT of them back

  3. Nev Silver badge


    What kind of backwater school was only taking delivery of RM machines in 1987?

    The RML 380Z came out around 1978(?) Ahhhh CP/M..........

  4. Daniel Jones

    Ah, RM. Them were the days.

    I'm not talking about the PC-a-likes produced a little later (from memory Duke Nukem worked on them, so they weren't a complete loss) but the earlier 8-bit Link 480Zs.

    Nicest-feeling keyboard I think I've ever used.

    Brings back memories, too. The person who set up the security system on those machines made a distinct ID 10 T error when writing the error message which appeared when things went wrong with the network; if you were at the security login screen and the network went titsup, when you entered your password you got the helpful message 'cannot find file USERS.IDS'.

    This plain text file, BTW, happened to be in the default path. You can imagine the phun we had.

  5. The Badger

    The RM PC-incompatible Nimbus

    I remember RM's kit from back in the 1980s: overpriced not-quite-IBM-compatible PCs sold at a premium, even compared to the proprietary Acorns, Apples, Amigas and Ataris (and less proprietary Amstrads), running early versions of Windows and other DOS-based programs using dodgy graphics emulation to make the de-facto standard graphics output work with the bizarre non-standard graphics support in the Nimbus. Another British success story, I'm sure!

  6. Matt

    As we say around these parts...

    ..."RM" is a four-letter word.

  7. Matt

    And Why Not...

    I like the old 1700 & 2000 models, they make great FreeNAS boxes !!

  8. Steve Rochford
    Thumb Up

    More history ..

    RML (as they were originally) made the 380z and 480z which were CP/M computers. The Nimbus (later Nimbus PC186) was similar to the IBM PC but not identical - at the time, there wasn't the complete standarisation which came later and it wasn't unreasonable to do things differently eg the 640kb limit wasn't there - the Nimbus could have 1Mb of RAM or 1.5Mb if you wanted a RAM disc.

    The AX and VX machines and then the PC286 and PC386 machines they made in the late 80s were completely IBM compatible (former were AT bus; latter were MCA) but they could also emulate the graphics of the 186 machine - not much use for many people but much better than the IBM CGA.

    Windows was available on RM kit from its earliest days and RM/RML were shipping networks long before many other companies.

  9. james hedley

    Wow, RM.

    Having worked there (not for long, so this isn't bitterness), I would strongly urge anyone with any influence in educational IT not to spend a single penny on this bunch of jokers.

    It seems all they do is get Server 2003 and bolt a load of proprietary rubbish to the side to stop anyone else provide support contracts. They then sell this at about double the price and watch as bemused IT officers realise they no longer know how to create a user account. This necessitates them calling RM support, where they get pinged back and forth between 20 different teams for an hour.

    The staff there are incredibly demotivated, the management haven't got a clue what they're doing (I mean literally!) and the office is a converted warehouse with wobbly floors, dirty carpets and not enough parking spaces.

    Out of all the jobs I have ever had (I used to travel a fair bit so that's quite a few), the month I spent at RM was unquestionably the worst.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh great...

    Just as RM take over things up here at Aberdeen College... Wonderful.

    Things are looking rosy already. :)

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Not that bad really

    Better RM than Viglen. Could still do better though, especially if they're employing people like james 'one month' hedley - no wonder support has issues!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Ruddy Mess!

    I'm glad that it's not only people that work in education that aren't in favour of RM. and with all this Building Schools for the Future alot of schools are almost being forced into RM!

    As previously said, RM is just bloated fluff around the real 'workings' of Windows Server OSs. There's no need in it if the school has proper technicians. I believe it would be useful if a keen IT teacher was maintaining the network but not when there's fulltime technicians being employed! .. That's my two pence!

  13. John


    When I started at my local college, they had RM Nimbus machines in the computer room and library. It turned out that they signed a 10 year contract with RM to supply them with computers and RM did just that, they gave them the Nimbus for 10 years!

    The Nimbus had a hidden feature in regards to colour, if you knew how to exploit it you could get 16 colours on the CGA monitor at any one time. This is something not even Microsoft could work out.

    I actually visited RM's Oxford HQ to get a copy of Windows 3.0 for the college at one point, since they had Windows 2.0.

    You would have thought the college learnt its lesson but signed a 10 year contract with Western Systems for their next computer suite (the company mysteriously went bust shortly after)

  14. Anonymous Coward

    In Scotland

    RM has the contract for the GLOW system (which used to be called the Scottish Schools Digital Network) connecting all Scottish schools with a computer system which provides, amongst other things, a "virtual learning environment" (whatever that is!).

    Who knows what the system will end up like when it's finally rolled out, and whether it'll work, especially with so many teachers involved who think they know IT inside out because they can change the battery of their old calculator!

  15. M Neligan

    I remember RM

    The Inner London Education Authority (RIP) supported RM when most educational authorities used Acorn (BBC and, later, Archimedes). Macs were for those who had money to burn. I had a C64. The Nimbus used the Intel 80186 chip, which was, I heard, intended as a maths co-processor. The Nimbus had superior graphics to most (all?) fully IBM-compatible PCs at the time. Using an emulator, it could run many DOS and (early) Windows programs like Turbo Pascal, Quattro and Aldus Pagemaker.

    Some schools stopped buying from RM because their prices were high (£40 for a mouse) but the firm survived despite competition from dozens of cheaper suppliers. This was probably because they provided schools with systems that were easy to administer, though expensive. Meanwhile, it has not been a pretty sight to watch Commodore, Acorn, Evesham, Escom, etc. go to the wall.

    More recently, they had the contract for the aborted Government plan to test all Year 9 pupils online in IT (or ICT, as they call it). This was scheduled to happen this year but proved an expensive shot-in-the-foot.

    @ Steve Rochford: I have a feeling you remember all this better than I.

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