OPUS 1+2 (TM221, 1975), DESMOND (Open University)

An OPUS 1 has been sold on ebay for 620 pounds (725 EUR) + shipping +customs. In the last seconds it raised from 120 to 620. LEDs should work but not sure about the LCDs. So maybe not 100% OK, and so way too expensive for me. (just 180 EUR shipping+tax)

We have another thread about OU here

I did some research and found very few info. There were also some books (2 units each).
The course was called TM221. Video and audio titles are listed here.
Unfortunately none available to the public.

Manufactured by Lectromec London.
I just found a short clip about the DESMOND (next to other clips)

Does anybody have more info or can explain the Opus? It had an 8049 CPU at 1 MHZ and 128 Bytes RAM. No info at all about Opus 2.
In 1980 there was Opus HEK. And/ or AI language SOLO.

Interesting finds - especially as the OU was all about adult education and yet that clip is a secondary school environment.

There’s a little about OPUS 2 in the program notes here.

Ray Morgan introduces the similuted minicomputer OPUS 2. He explains the advantages OPUS 2 has over OPUS 1 . partucularly in the inclusion of an Assembler. Using graphics he compares a simple program in numerical machine code, suitable for OPUS 1, and in mnemonic form for OPUS 2. He also explains the use of origin and finish directives. At the OPUS 2 terminal, Morgan describes its facilities. He then outlines the other systems programs of OPUS 2 in addition to the Assembler - the Editor, the Loader and the Command Interpreter - and explains their advantages. He states what this program hopes to achieve. With the help of a diagram, Richard Maddison provides a conceptual background to these systems programs. He explains what the programmer’s job involves and how systems can make it easier. He employs a graphics board to explain the composition of the whole system used in OPUS 2. Morgan deals with the practical aspects of the system as a programmer. He describes the input and output devices of the computer terminal. He uses an animated diagram to represent the whole system used in OPUS 2, and shows the storage of individual program systems in the main and backing stores. He indicates the relation of these to the peripherals. Morgan runs a program on OPUS 2, using the terminal’s keyboard and paper tape puncher. The input of the program to the Assembler is seen on the terminal’s line-printer. This target program appears in the form of paper tape. Maddison uses a graphics board to demonstrate what this actual use of the Assembler means in terms of computer hardware. He also shows what will happen next. Morgan now runs the program on paper tape to the Loader via the terminal’s paper tape reader. This completed, he gives the execute instruction and the program is run. Maddison shows the link between the STOP instruction and the Loader on the graphics board. He then describes alternative commands available at this stage and which aren’t available on OPUS 1 One particular example which he stresses is the dumping of the contents of store locations to the line printer. Morgan then uses this facility, enabling him to check that the program has worked successfully. Maddison briefly explains the nature and use of files kept on paper tape and on disc. Advantages of disc explained. He describes the use of the Editor when altering a program. Morgan runs the whole program cycle at the terminal, using disc files, instead of paper tape. The results are seen on the lineprinter, with Morgan explaining their significance throughout, Morgan concludes the program with some advice for students.


Here’s an article on SOLO (pdf, 7 pages, “A user-friendly software environment for the novice programmer” by Marc Eisenstadt, 1983)

SOLO, a nonnumerical programming language, was developed at The Open University in the U.K. to support a course on Cognitive Psychology. It was designed to acquaint students as painlessly as possible with the computing fundamentals necessary both to grasp AI principles as applied in Cognitive Psychology and to actually initiate fairly sophisticated exercises on their own. The language has been used successfully by more than 2500 social science students
The two major influences on SOLO, and the languages from which the name is derived, are Norman and Rumelhart’s SOL and Papert’s LOGO. SOL (Semantic Operating Language) demonstrates the viability of basing an entire programming language around the manipulation of semantic networks. LOGO demonstrates the ease with which computernaive students can tackle list-processing problems involving hierarchies of procedure calls, and provides a model for the style of user interaction adopted by SOLO.

Also a 14 page article from 1996
Using Software to Teach Computer Programming: Past, Present and Future
by Paul Mulholland and Marc Eisenstadt

In 1976, we faced the challenge of teaching programming in very adverse circumstances: we wanted to teach AI programming to Psychology students at the UK’s Open University. Our students were (a) computer-illiterate or computer-phobic, (b) working at home with no computer hardware, and therefore having to attend a local study centre to use a dial-up teletype link to a DEC system-20, (c) studying Psychology with no intention of learning programming, (d) only allocated a period of two weeks to get through the computing component embedded within a larger Cognitive Psychology course. Our approach (described in Eisenstadt, 1983) was to design a programming language called SOLO (essentially a semantic-network variant of LOGO) which enabled students to do powerful things on the first day, embed this language in a software environment which corrected “obvious” errors (such as silly spelling mistakes) automatically, make the workings of the underlying virtual machine both highly explicit and very visible, and develop a curriculum sequence which from start to finish tried to motivate the student by highlighting the relevance of each programming task to the student’s main academic interest—cognitive psychology. Visibility of the underlying virtual machine was achieved by printing out changes to the semantic network as they were made by the user, although the innards of control flow were not particularly visible in the sense that we describe below.

Thanks! I missed that and haven’t expanded all titles.
I wondered how they tought peripherals when there aren’t any on Opus 1. So the Opus 2 is completely different and a real computer. I still haven’t found any photo and wonder how it looks. I think the files aren’t public as they were BBC (co)-produced or broadcasted. There were also large models (I think OPUS 1). Some of the courses/books are about other computers including DEC PDP8 and NOVA. So only those about the OPUS are of interest (and rare as well).

Parts of a PCB of an Opus 1 is on the book covers.

I found some other interesting videos there, one about CYCLOPS (audio cassette and light pen attached to a TV)

and one with other computers including Research Machines 380Z