WTB imsai or altair - CP/M

This is a discussion on WTB imsai or altair - CP/M ; On Tue, 31 Jan 2006 02:48:26 GMT, "R. Steve Walz" wrote: >I understand that was your experience, Barry, however, it got so bad >in the early 80's that I finally had to refuse to work on them, they >were so ...

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Thread: WTB imsai or altair

  1. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    On Tue, 31 Jan 2006 02:48:26 GMT, "R. Steve Walz"
    wrote:
    >I understand that was your experience, Barry, however, it got so bad
    >in the early 80's that I finally had to refuse to work on them, they
    >were so kludgy and buggy. Not everyone had a decent motherboard or CPU
    >board, lots of kinds abounded and the cards were NOT truly
    >intercompatible merely because they adhered to the bus standard as it
    >was found at that time.


    Well, you are emitting such a cloud of vitriol that I feel bound to
    show the other side of the coin (although this has ably been done by
    Dave, Herb, Alison et al.).

    I have been instrumental in implementing many S-100 systems in the
    day, and my experiences have been exactly the opposite of yours. Many
    businesses have run on them including (at one time) the one I ran (on
    a North Star Horizon). I have had close up and personal experience of
    implementing Processor Technology, Imsai, North Star, Vector Graphic
    and Cromemco (the latter my favourite). I have hand buit several North
    Star and Imsai systems ( the last of which was actually running a
    Cromemco board set). How I miss that Imsai - I still have a photo of
    it somewhere. Only in a very few rare instances have I been troubled
    with incompatibilty and instability and most of that revolved around
    early-day implementation of dynamic-ram boards. In fact I had far more
    troubles with 'non 'S-100 systems (Ohio Scientific particularly comes
    to mind) where of course the 'modular bug-swap' capability of the
    S-100 system was not there.

    Your experiences are regrettable and if (as it seems you are
    suggesting) you get involved with a lot of the bottom-feeders then of
    course you will experience more problems (and this is true even today)
    however I maintain that with a good motherboard, a card set from a
    reputable manufacturer and some _decent_ drives a robust and stable
    S-100 system can be put together and I would even today quite happily
    put a DPU/256KZ/16-FDC/WDI-II into an Imsai chassis (although I feel
    the Cromemco Blitz Bus is the mother of all S-100 busboards) and sit
    in front of it as happy as a pig in muck watching the front panel
    lights flickering. Can you say War Games?

    Final comment, side note for all you aspiring S-100 implementers, I
    humbly suggest you note that Steve's comments are really a minority
    view (as the posts here will show) and move on, there's a lot of fun
    to be had you just don't get with today's PC's.

    Jim


  2. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    I don't care what anyone says. I would love to have an Altair and an IMSAI.
    Actually, a couple of them would be even better. I still have dreams of the
    University letting me set up a hands-on computer museum someday.
    Oh well, maybe after I retire.

    bill

    --
    Bill Gunshannon | de-moc-ra-cy (di mok' ra see) n. Three wolves
    bill@cs.scranton.edu | and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.
    University of Scranton |
    Scranton, Pennsylvania | #include

  3. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    Jim Attfield wrote:
    >

    .... snip ...
    >
    > Final comment, side note for all you aspiring S-100 implementers, I
    > humbly suggest you note that Steve's comments are really a minority
    > view (as the posts here will show) and move on, there's a lot of fun
    > to be had you just don't get with today's PC's.


    I think the point is that the bus "design" was poor, but with
    effort it was made to work reliably, within limits. It was
    certainly a significant event.

    --
    "The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without
    formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to
    deny him the judgement of his peers, is in the highest degree
    odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government
    whether Nazi or Communist." -- W. Churchill, Nov 21, 1943



  4. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    My two cents. As with all industries, an idea, and ambition, start
    things, and typically continue to improve. The S-100 systems are no
    exception, though of course they had their share pf growing pains and
    problems, they were still wonderful systems to work on. Still are it
    seems! Today I have four systems running very well. A Compuro, which
    runs CP/M 2.2, CP/M-86, and Concurrent DOS 8-16, with a hard disk, and
    floppies, Cromemco system that runs CDOS, CP/M 2.2, and Cromix, a CCS
    system runing CP/M 2.2, and another system with mixed manufactures
    boards, and IMSAI front panel. Many of the parts have been in my garage
    for over 20 years. I have to say that working on these, though having
    some frustrarion in the early 80's, were nothing compared to working
    later on with IBM XT type stuff, Windows, adding SCSI peripherals,
    etc!! Bottom line is that these systems are not terrible, and were
    dominant in their time. Many of us learned a lot back then with these
    systems that you would never learn with the single boards, or the
    IBM's. I still remember going down to W&W Components,or Anchor
    Electronics in San Jose to pick up kits for S-100 cards and building
    them on my kitchen table! I actually went to auctions with Godbout, and
    Morrow as they sold many of their items at those meets, and I sat in
    the offices of California Computer Systems to discuss the BIOS with
    Robert Mason on interfacing double sided floppy drives, etc. No one
    back then thought they were working on "Pigs" or "Crap". So..... Enjoy!


  5. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    Jim Attfield wrote:
    >
    > On Tue, 31 Jan 2006 02:48:26 GMT, "R. Steve Walz"
    > wrote:
    > >I understand that was your experience, Barry, however, it got so bad
    > >in the early 80's that I finally had to refuse to work on them, they
    > >were so kludgy and buggy. Not everyone had a decent motherboard or CPU
    > >board, lots of kinds abounded and the cards were NOT truly
    > >intercompatible merely because they adhered to the bus standard as it
    > >was found at that time.

    >
    > Well, you are emitting such a cloud of vitriol that I feel bound to
    > show the other side of the coin (although this has ably been done by
    > Dave, Herb, Alison et al.).
    >
    > I have been instrumental in implementing many S-100 systems in the
    > day, and my experiences have been exactly the opposite of yours. Many
    > businesses have run on them including (at one time) the one I ran (on
    > a North Star Horizon). I have had close up and personal experience of
    > implementing Processor Technology, Imsai, North Star, Vector Graphic
    > and Cromemco (the latter my favourite). I have hand buit several North
    > Star and Imsai systems ( the last of which was actually running a
    > Cromemco board set). How I miss that Imsai - I still have a photo of
    > it somewhere. Only in a very few rare instances have I been troubled
    > with incompatibilty and instability and most of that revolved around
    > early-day implementation of dynamic-ram boards. In fact I had far more
    > troubles with 'non 'S-100 systems (Ohio Scientific particularly comes
    > to mind) where of course the 'modular bug-swap' capability of the
    > S-100 system was not there.
    >
    > Your experiences are regrettable and if (as it seems you are
    > suggesting) you get involved with a lot of the bottom-feeders then of
    > course you will experience more problems (and this is true even today)
    > however I maintain that with a good motherboard, a card set from a
    > reputable manufacturer and some _decent_ drives a robust and stable
    > S-100 system can be put together and I would even today quite happily
    > put a DPU/256KZ/16-FDC/WDI-II into an Imsai chassis (although I feel
    > the Cromemco Blitz Bus is the mother of all S-100 busboards) and sit
    > in front of it as happy as a pig in muck watching the front panel
    > lights flickering. Can you say War Games?
    >
    > Final comment, side note for all you aspiring S-100 implementers, I
    > humbly suggest you note that Steve's comments are really a minority
    > view (as the posts here will show) and move on, there's a lot of fun
    > to be had you just don't get with today's PC's.
    >
    > Jim

    -------------------------
    I used a Cromemco System 3 with CDOS for two and a half years at an
    engineering job and I admit it was a joy to use, but the next year I
    bought an Ampro Z80 Little Board that was 1/20th the size and worked
    just as well and ran all the same software. Now why would anyone want
    a much more complicated card cage computer when they could stop any
    concerns about lost data if someone bumped the card cage too hard?

    -Steve
    --
    -Steve Walz rstevew@armory.com ftp://ftp.armory.com/pub/user/rstevew
    Electronics Site!! 1000's of Files and Dirs!! With Schematics Galore!!
    http://www.armory.com/~rstevew or http://www.armory.com/~rstevew/Public

  6. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    On 2006-02-03, R. Steve Walz wrote:
    > I used a Cromemco System 3 with CDOS for two and a half years at an
    > engineering job and I admit it was a joy to use, but the next year I
    > bought an Ampro Z80 Little Board that was 1/20th the size and worked
    > just as well and ran all the same software. Now why would anyone want
    > a much more complicated card cage computer when they could stop any
    > concerns about lost data if someone bumped the card cage too hard?


    When was the Little Board introduced? Hint: Well after 1975.
    --
    Jay Maynard, K5ZC http://www.conmicro.cx
    http://jmaynard.livejournal.com http://www.tronguy.net
    http://www.hercules-390.org (Yes, that's me!)
    Buy Hercules stuff at http://www.cafepress.com/hercules-390

  7. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    Jay Maynard wrote:
    >
    > On 2006-02-03, R. Steve Walz wrote:
    > > I used a Cromemco System 3 with CDOS for two and a half years at an
    > > engineering job and I admit it was a joy to use, but the next year I
    > > bought an Ampro Z80 Little Board that was 1/20th the size and worked
    > > just as well and ran all the same software. Now why would anyone want
    > > a much more complicated card cage computer when they could stop any
    > > concerns about lost data if someone bumped the card cage too hard?

    >
    > When was the Little Board introduced? Hint: Well after 1975.
    > Jay Maynard, K5ZC http://www.conmicro.cx

    -----------------------
    Sure, but it could have been built around '79 when the DRAM got
    smaller and cheaper.

    -Steve
    --
    -Steve Walz rstevew@armory.com ftp://ftp.armory.com/pub/user/rstevew
    Electronics Site!! 1000's of Files and Dirs!! With Schematics Galore!!
    http://www.armory.com/~rstevew or http://www.armory.com/~rstevew/Public

  8. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    On Fri, 03 Feb 2006 22:05:22 GMT, "R. Steve Walz"
    wrote:
    >I used a Cromemco System 3 with CDOS for two and a half years at an
    >engineering job and I admit it was a joy to use, but the next year I
    >bought an Ampro Z80 Little Board that was 1/20th the size and worked
    >just as well and ran all the same software. Now why would anyone want
    >a much more complicated card cage computer when they could stop any
    >concerns about lost data if someone bumped the card cage too hard?


    Well, try adding 256Kb to one, or running four or five users off one,
    or adding colour graphics, or adding 28 channels of A->D conversion to
    one.

    If you didn't need it, fine. Some did. BTW the CS/3 card cage was
    bomb-proof so I don't really understand your 'lost data' comment.

    Jim

  9. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    On 1 Feb 2006 14:25:04 -0800, rcamarda@aol.com wrote:

    >My two cents. As with all industries, an idea, and ambition, start
    >things, and typically continue to improve. The S-100 systems are no
    >exception,
    >.....
    > I still remember going down to W&W Components,or Anchor
    >Electronics in San Jose to pick up kits for S-100 cards and building
    >them on my kitchen table! I actually went to auctions with Godbout, and
    >Morrow as they sold many of their items at those meets, and I sat in
    >the offices of California Computer Systems to discuss the BIOS with
    >Robert Mason on interfacing double sided floppy drives, etc.


    When the Xerox 820 came out, there was *NO* support for anything
    on the serial ports. The tech manual was something like 6 months
    away. So, I had to make a number of phone calls to Texas to try
    to figure out exactly what the interaction was between CP/M and
    the Z80-SIO and what the BIOS was doing to set it up. One major
    discovery was the absolute necessity to 'read' the ports before
    you ever actually cared what the status registers had in them. If
    you didn't, you'd get garbage. Or, it would just 'hang'.

    I have those calls on tape around here somewhere ... after all,
    it sometimes took a couple/three passes to understand what
    he was saying. Yes, THAT David Liddle. Spring, 1981.

    (uhh... CEO of Interval?... You've heard of Interval, right?)

    Anyway, the 'not invented here' syndrome was much in evidence,
    although Dr David Liddle never hinted that Jim Ferguson and his
    BigBoard were the actual basis for this single board machine.

    In the end, it turned out, as it did likewise for Kaypro, Osborne,
    and many others, you could get everything you needed from
    just a BIOS/Monitor ROM listing and the Zilog data books. Oh,
    and the CP/M customized BIOS.

    Bill


  10. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    On 31 Jan 2006 16:49:30 GMT, bill@cs.uofs.edu (Bill Gunshannon) wrote:

    >I don't care what anyone says. I would love to have an Altair and an IMSAI.
    >Actually, a couple of them would be even better. I still have dreams of the
    >University letting me set up a hands-on computer museum someday.
    >Oh well, maybe after I retire.


    Me, I'd like to have one of those stock tickers with the glass dome.

    I remember seeing them being dumped. Maybe 50 years ago.

    I'd be happy to trade an Altair for one. Maybe even TWO Altairs.


    Bill


  11. Re: WTB imsai or altair

    > Me, I'd like to have one of those stock tickers with the glass dome.
    >
    > I remember seeing them being dumped. Maybe 50 years ago.
    >
    > I'd be happy to trade an Altair for one. Maybe even TWO Altairs.


    Here's a company that sells reproductions of the old stock tickers:

    http://www.stocktickercompany.com/re...ion/specs.html

    Tom Lake



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