Colour

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Colour Corporation
Logo
Formerly calledColour Computer Company (1974–1979)
Colour Technologies Ltd. (1979–1991)
TypePublic
Traded asVSX:COL
Industry
Computer hardware
Computer software
Consumer electronics
Founded20 November 1974; 46 years ago (1974-11-20)
Founders
Michael Radford
Russell Cochran
Headquarters1 Home Row,
Magnetic Fields,
GerriseGerrise,
Vodeo
Coordinates3.2897°S, 32.8722°E
Area servedWorldwide
Key people
Hamish Berry (Chairman)
Sarah Murray (CEO)
Redia Nalbern-James (CDO)
Joe Hutchinson (CFO)
Michael Radford (Technical advisor)
ProductsColour OS · Suite · Reactor · Slate · Orbit · Toolbox
Services35 · Active · Atom · Colour Store · Hub · Mailbox.com · Record Store
RevenueIncrease 5.416 billion (2019)
Operating incomeIncrease V£1.971 billion (2019)
Net incomeIncrease V£1.528 billion (2019)
Total assetsIncrease V£15.797 billion (2019)
Total equityIncrease V£7.326 billion (2019)
Number of employees128,016 (2019)
Subsidiaries
Colour Game Studios
Colour Store
Dirigible Studios
SloganThink Big
Websitecolour.com

Colour Corporation is a Vodean multinational technology company headquartered in Transistor Valley, Gerrise that designs, develops, and sells personal computers, computer software, consumer electronics, and online services. Its best known software products are the Colour family of operating systems, and the Suite and Toolbox productivity and design suites, respectively. Its flagship hardware products are the Reactor video game console, the Slate tablet family, and the Orbit smartphone family.

Colour was founded as the Colour Computer Company by Michael Radford and Russell Cochran on November 20, 1974. It rose to prominence with the release of the Computer Control System on October 23, 1977, followed by the Colour Operating System in 1982. In the late 1980s and 1990s, it became one of the world's largest technology companies, and since the mid-2000s, it has diversified into other areas, most notably into consumer electronics and retail operations.

As of 2020, Colour is a market leader in the x21-compatible PC operating system and productivity suite markets, although its former dominance in the mobile market has diminished somewhat from its peak in the 2000s following increased competition from companies like Cyclo, Stepstone, and KhaiTel. It also remains a major player in the video game console market through the Reactor. It is Vodeo's largest technology company, and is considered one of Transistor Valley's "Big Three" companies, the others being Main and Marathon Semiconductor.

History

1974–1984: Founding, CCS, and early COS

Colour was founded as the Colour Computer Company in Drury on November 20, 1974 by childhood friends Michael Radford and Russell Cochran. The two had studied mathematics together at the Drury Institute of Technology, and had written basic software for early microcomputers of the era as a hobby. After reading about hobbyists building computers in the Federal States, the two realised that no company then existed in Vodeo (or indeed, in Tarephia) that assembled microcomputers. Seeing an opening in the market, they established Colour in late 1974 and used their own savings and capital from friends and family to build the company's first computer, the Colour, which was first offered by mail-order in the March/April 1975 issue of Microcomputer magazine. The Colour attracted considerable interest from the fledgling microcomputer community, however the machine's lack of a programming language interpreter hampered its growth. Richard Smith, a hobbyist who had written his own Entry Level Instruction Code (ELIC) interpreter, approached Colour and offered his services. Smith was hired and Colour released its Colour ELIC (CELIC) in September 1975.

Interest in microcomputers increased significantly during 1976 and early 1977, with Colour the most dominant player in the Vodean market at the time. The growth of the market enticed Main, which at that point focused on full-sized mainframes and terminals, to enter the market in 1977 with the 6/80 microcomputer. Main did not have an operating system ready for the 6/80, however - it considered its own MPL/1, a system designed for mainframes in 1973, too large and complex, and CELIC too basic - and so approached Colour asking if it could offer a better system. Sensing that the 6/80 would be a success based on Main's prominence, Radford and Cochran offered to have a new system available within two months. Colour did not, in fact, have another system to offer, but was able to develop an operating system based on the Microcomputer System (MC/S) that had been developed in Ingerland in 1974. After securing supply to Main, the Computer Control System (CCS) was introduced with the 6/80 on October 23, 1977. The 6/80 made little impact in Vodeo due to a severe economic recession, but had far greater success internationally; this introduced Colour to the world market in a far greater fashion than it had achieved with the Colour microcomputer, and prompted developers to begin writing software for CCS. CCS's popularity led to Colour developing multiple versions of the software to run on different microcomputers, but by the early 1980s the personal computer system, which Main had helped develop, had become the most popular, and as a result Colour focused its efforts there.

Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) had been demonstrated as early as 1969, but it was not until the late 1970s that the concept began to be taken as a practical possibility. Main had begun constructing its own GUI, named the Main Operating Environment, in 1979, but did not have enough developers on the project, which by mid-1981 was running severely behind schedule. Colour was invited to take charge of the project, and during the remainder of 1981 and 1982 almost completely reconfigured and redesigned the system. A number of names were suggested, including "Graphical CCS", "Main Colour System", and "Visual Interface System", but ultimately the name "Colour Operating Environment" was chosen. A demonstration of the system was given in June 1982 with a promised ship date of September that year, however project delays ultimately pushed the release back to November 29. COE 1.0 was very basic even for the time, and failed to gain much traction for some time compared to CCS until later versions added features; a common complaint of the time was that COE was simply a graphical shell running on top of CCS, and as such offered little incentive to meet its high asking price.

Despite mild reception to the COE, Colour's success with CCS, partly due to its licensing agreements with computer manufacturers, gave it room to begin expanding from just the operating system market. The company released a word processor (Typewriter) in 1980, a spreadsheet program (Gridlock) in 1981, and a mouse in 1982, however none were particularly popular due to intense competition in the word processor and spreadsheet markets and a lack of programs that could use mice. Seeing an opportunity to expand its reach, in 1983 Colour offered a discounted bundle of all three known as the Colour Suite to schools across Vodeo - the move was highly successful and prompted the idea of users running Colour software at home, school, and work; this idea would go on to drive Colour's focus well into the 21st century.

1985–1994: Colour expands

While Colour was one of the first companies to offer a graphical user interface, by 1984 a number of competing programs had entered the market. Colour's response to the growing market was COS 2.0, released on January 15, 1985, which updated the user interface, performed better on contemporary hardware, and introduced a number of system utilities, most of which are still included in COS to this day. Colour's initial public stock offering in 1987 made 13 millionaires (three of whom – Radford, Cochran, and Smith – were billionaires when converted from VDP to USD). In 1989 Colour released COS 3.0, which was able to handle more memory and more advanced processors than its predecessors. This was succeeded by COS 4.0 in 1992, which added multimedia support, CCS multitasking, and long files names, and greatly lessened the OS's reliance on CCS.

In 1993, Colour introduced COS Mainframe 3.0 (part of its operating system family designed for workstations and servers), which was Colour's first 32-bit operating system, and the first version of COS to not require CCS to be installed on the same computer. That same year, Colour entered the video game console market with the Reactor, one of the first consoles to use CD-ROMs instead of cartridges. The console's moderate success led to the opening of Colour Game Studios in 1994, to promote game development for both COS and the Reactor, as well as develop its own games. Colour also rapidly expanded its software division in the early 1990s, introducing the Reference, Essentials, Kids, and Creation families. The rise in popularity of PDAs and handheld computers from 1992 onward led Colour to develop Pen-Based COS in 1993, which evolved into the Centra operating system in 1994.

1995-2002: COS Cx and the Web

By 1994, the Internet had become popular around the world thanks to early browsers such as Spyglass, which had been developed by the University of Avington's science department in 1993. Seeing the potential to have a prominent position in the market, Colour launched its colour.com website in July 1994, and in January 1995 bought the rights to Spyglass. On August 17, 1995, Colour released COS C5, a fully redesigned operating system with a new user interface, better hardware management, Internet capabilities, and no reliance on CCS; nearly two million copies were sold in the first week after its release. Colour Spyglass 2.0 was released to coincide with C5, and by the end of 1995 accounted for 17% of the browser market; this would rise to 31% by the end of 1996.

2003–2011: Post-Radford era

2012–present: Modern Colour

Products

Software

List of Colour desktop operating systems
OS Release date
CELIC[fn 1] 30 September 1975
CCS 1.0[fn 2] 23 October 1977
COE 1.0 29 November 1982
COS 2.0 15 January 1985
COS 3.0 2 October 1989
COS 3.1 13 February 1991
COS 4.0 22 September 1992
COS 4.1 5 July 1993
Colour C5 17 August 1995
Colour C6 18 June 1998
Colour Century 5 December 2000
Colour C8 24 March 2004
Colour 9 11 October 2007
Colour Omega 16 November 2010
Colour Base 13 August 2012
Colour Trinity 2 November 2015
Colour Sapphire 18 September 2019
  • Colour OS: Colour's flagship product is the Colour operating system (commonly known as Colour or COS), first introduced for personal computers in 1982. While initially little more than a shell for the Computer Control System software, by 1992 it had evolved into a full operating system of its own. The latest release is Colour 14, released on September 18, 2019. Variations of COS have been made for tailored situations, including:
    • Mainframe: First released in 1988 as "COS for Mainframes", the Mainframe family is designed for servers and workstations. From version 3.0 onward, Mainframe was built on its own kernel separate from CCS, while COS remained on the older kernel. COS moved to the Mainframe kernel with the release of Century in 2000, although COS and Mainframe remain separate branches of the COS family. The latest release is Colour Mainframe 10, released on February 21, 2017.
    • Centra: Centra was first developed as a mobile version of COS for early tablets and PDAs in 1994. Centra has since evolved to be Colour's embedded operating system software for environments including smartphones, point-of-sale systems and ATMs (as CPOS), and in-car systems (as Colour Drive). The latest release is Centra 12, released on January 15, 2020.
List of Colour Mainframe operating systems
OS Release date
COS for Mainframes 3 February 1988
COS for Mainframes 2.0 13 March 1990
COS Mainframe 3.0 4 May 1993
COS Mainframe 3.1 21 June 1994
COS Mainframe 4.0 9 November 1995
COS Mainframe 4.1 3 February 1997
COS Mainframe 5.0 18 April 2000
Mainframe 6 11 January 2005
Mainframe 7 26 October 2009
Mainframe 8 17 September 2011
Mainframe 9 4 March 2013
Mainframe 10 21 February 2017
  • Suite: Colour's productivity suite, first released in 1983. The full Suite family contains a number of applications: Typewriter (word processor), Gridlock (spreadsheet), Slideshow (presentation), Lecture (notetaking) Epoch (database), and Postoffice (personal information manager). FreePlan, a desktop publishing program, was formerly included with Suite between 1995 and 2011, when it was moved to the Toolbox suite.
  • Toolbox: a suite of design programs first released in 1999. Aimed at the creative industry, the suite contains a number of programs including Canvas Pro (raster graphics editor), Director (video editing), FreePlan (desktop publishing), and Soundwave (audio editing).

Hardware

  • Reactor: a family of video game consoles first released by Colour in 1993. Initially a minor player in the console market, the brand became popular following the release of the Reactor 2000 in 1997, which offered full 3D acceleration and multiplayer capability over the internet or LAN, and has since remained one of the most popular video game consoles internationally. The following is a list of all Reactor console families since 1993:
    • Reactor (1993)
    • Reactor 2000 (1997)
    • Reactor 3000 (2002)
    • Reactor 4000 (2007)
    • Reactor 5 (2013)
    • Reactor 5X (2017)
    • Reactor 6 (2020)
  • Slate: a series of touchscreen computers and tablets introduced in 2010. Initially focused on tablets (which Colour had first offered in the 1990s and 2000s), it has since expanded into laptops and other touchscreen devices.
  • Orbit: a series of smartphones introduced in 2011.

Corporate profile

International office locations

Country Address Since Remarks
New Ingerland.png New Ingerland 4-10 Tenison Street, South of Market, Kingsbury, CENT 1983

Footnotes

  1. CELIC was not a true operating system in the modern sense, but is traditionally included in lists of Colour operating systems.
  2. Versions of CCS were released up to 8.51 in 2000. From COS 3.1 onward, major CCS versions were released to coincide with those of COS.