Fidelity announced the release of a range of eight new Elite Avant Gardes in the Autumn of 1989. The base model the v.2 had the same program and 68000 processor as the updated Excel Mach III (but more RAM). All of the versions had the improved Mach III program which has the facility to learn to avoid some previously played weak moves. Two of the Avant Garde versions were fitted with dual processors, several had more powerful processors and/or extra RAM. This mixing and matching of components allowed buyers to chose the specification that most suited them in terms of chess strength versus price. Several of the versions did not appear until 1990.
A v.10 version came along later, in December 1990. With it’s cutting edge 68040 processor and extravagent amounts of RAM it cost £5,999 in the UK from Countrywide Computers (18,000 DM according to a September 1991 German price list). The price of a small family car at the time. The first v.10 was lent to Anatoly Karpov for his 1990 World Championship match with Garry Kasparov.
The v.2 base model seemed to sell in reasonable numbers despite the market for top end chess computers starting to contract under pressure from PC chess software. The other versions were built in much smaller numbers and the most expensive ones were only built to order. The v.8 may not have been released at all as there is no known example (Hein Veldhuis).
The v.5 was the first ever dual processor commercial chess computer. It was also one of the best choice Avant Gardes in terms of strength v price. The dual processor versions achieving relatively more in playing strength than the versions with lots of expensive Hash Table RAM. The manual claims a 70% speed-up over the v.2. SSDF tests found an average 59% speed-up. The v.5 was well covered by Larry Kaufman in Computer Chess Reports 1990 No.2 Page 3 (link) where he concluded that it was good value. Nevertheless it is believed that only 50 of the v.5 version were built. So this v.5, which is serial number 007, is both an interesting and a rare chess computer.
Information on all of the Avant Garde versions is shown in the table below. The table includes a v.1 version that was in fact never released for sale by Fidelity and a v.11 version which was not a Fidelity released product. In fact the v.11 model description covers about 40 specials built with Fidelity components into Elite A/S, Prestige and Avant Garde boards by Wilfried Bucke. You can read about v.11s here (link).
Latterly other specials have been built which are sometimes described as v.11s but are not built from Fidelity components. Call them what you like but for me they are not v.11s. There are also re-engineered Avant Garde versions around and a potential buyer needs to be aware that they may contain alterations including more modern electronics.