Re: What value emulators? - CP/M

This is a discussion on Re: What value emulators? - CP/M ; >I think I'm missing the picture on the emulators... >I've seen lots of posts regarding emulators of vintage machines. Do they >have a value other than educational, or perhaps a minimal value to test >something if you don't want to ...

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Thread: Re: What value emulators?

  1. Re: What value emulators?

    >I think I'm missing the picture on the emulators...

    >I've seen lots of posts regarding emulators of vintage machines. Do they
    >have a value other than educational, or perhaps a minimal value to test
    >something if you don't want to fire up the old box?


    >People seem to spend a lot of time & effort on these emulators. And I
    >really can't see the justification for it. Is it something else to do, once
    >you've mastered the old box; to make a software copy of it?


    >If someone is going to make a modern day "copy", I'd prefer a hardware one,
    >like the new Altair kits floating around. Anyone can code these days. But
    >maybe I'm just a traditionalist.


    Emulators are useful for many reasons (in no particular order):

    They can be significantly faster than the real hardware, especially
    floppy disk accesses. Makes a big different when I'm developing
    some new utility for and old system.

    They save wear and tear on old hardware - especially if what you are
    doing/testing involves a lot of floppy disk activity. A related point to
    this is that they live on even if some unobtanium component of the original
    hardware packs it in.

    Manipulating disk images as PC files can be much earier than real floppy
    disks - especially with tools available on a PC. If I want to make a custom
    boot disk for a system, I'll do it on the PC where I can assembly sectors into
    disks just by copying files, view/patch it with a hex editor etc. Then I'll test
    it on an emulator. All of this can happen quite quickly as there is no physical
    components involved. Once everything is working, I'll write it to a real
    diskette and try it on the real machine - and it will almost always work on
    the first try.

    They don't take up any physical room - I don't keep all of my infrequently
    used systems set up and ready to go. When I need to test with one (say
    someone reports a problem with one of my utilities) I can fire up the emulator
    with just a "CD" to the corresponding directory - the real hardware would
    take me a good chunk of time to unpack, setup, get going again and put
    away afterward.

    They are usually free, and offer immediate access. I agree that the "real
    metal" is the best way to experience a classic computer, however it someone
    has a casual interest in knowing what it was like to use an Altair - they might
    not shell thousands of dollars to purchase an original one, or even the price
    of a reproduction (assuming one is available at the time), and they might
    lose interest in waiting to find just the right system , or give up on trying to
    get it running --- an emulator can be downloaded and experienced at
    very little monetary or time cost.

    And perhaps most important - it's a hobby - I've spent a ton of time on
    my various emulators, transfer tools, utilities and my classic computer
    website - none of which has any commercial value or has put any
    significant $$ in my pocket - nor do I expect it to. But I enjoy playing with
    classic systems, and get satisfaction in seeing a long dead system come
    to life either in reality or as an emulation - and I've met and corresponded
    with lots of interesting people, traded stories etc.


    --
    Dunfield Development Services http://www.dunfield.com
    Low cost software development tools for embedded systems
    Software/firmware development services Fax:613-256-5821


  2. Re: What value emulators?

    On 2008-07-03 09:51:18 -0500,
    Dave.Dunfield@use.techsupport.link.on.my.website (Dave Dunfield) said:

    >> I think I'm missing the picture on the emulators...

    >
    >> I've seen lots of posts regarding emulators of vintage machines. Do they
    >> have a value other than educational, or perhaps a minimal value to test
    >> something if you don't want to fire up the old box?

    >
    >> People seem to spend a lot of time & effort on these emulators. And I
    >> really can't see the justification for it. Is it something else to do, once
    >> you've mastered the old box; to make a software copy of it?

    >
    >> If someone is going to make a modern day "copy", I'd prefer a hardware one,
    >> like the new Altair kits floating around. Anyone can code these days. But
    >> maybe I'm just a traditionalist.

    >
    > Emulators are useful for many reasons (in no particular order):
    >
    > They can be significantly faster than the real hardware, especially
    > floppy disk accesses. Makes a big different when I'm developing
    > some new utility for and old system.
    >
    > They save wear and tear on old hardware - especially if what you are
    > doing/testing involves a lot of floppy disk activity. A related point to
    > this is that they live on even if some unobtanium component of the original
    > hardware packs it in.
    >
    > Manipulating disk images as PC files can be much earier than real floppy
    > disks - especially with tools available on a PC. If I want to make a custom
    > boot disk for a system, I'll do it on the PC where I can assembly sectors into
    > disks just by copying files, view/patch it with a hex editor etc. Then
    > I'll test
    > it on an emulator. All of this can happen quite quickly as there is no physical
    > components involved. Once everything is working, I'll write it to a real
    > diskette and try it on the real machine - and it will almost always work on
    > the first try.
    >
    > They don't take up any physical room - I don't keep all of my infrequently
    > used systems set up and ready to go. When I need to test with one (say
    > someone reports a problem with one of my utilities) I can fire up the emulator
    > with just a "CD" to the corresponding directory - the real hardware would
    > take me a good chunk of time to unpack, setup, get going again and put
    > away afterward.
    >
    > They are usually free, and offer immediate access. I agree that the "real
    > metal" is the best way to experience a classic computer, however it someone
    > has a casual interest in knowing what it was like to use an Altair - they might
    > not shell thousands of dollars to purchase an original one, or even the price
    > of a reproduction (assuming one is available at the time), and they might
    > lose interest in waiting to find just the right system , or give up on
    > trying to
    > get it running --- an emulator can be downloaded and experienced at
    > very little monetary or time cost.
    >
    > And perhaps most important - it's a hobby - I've spent a ton of time on
    > my various emulators, transfer tools, utilities and my classic computer
    > website - none of which has any commercial value or has put any
    > significant $$ in my pocket - nor do I expect it to. But I enjoy playing with
    > classic systems, and get satisfaction in seeing a long dead system come
    > to life either in reality or as an emulation - and I've met and corresponded
    > with lots of interesting people, traded stories etc.


    I've wanted, in the last number of years, to play with old 8" drives,
    8-bit motherboards, etc. Also, to play with CPM-86. I did all that
    back in my 20s. But now, with a slight disability, it is not practical.

    The emus give me an opportunity to pick up where I left off years ago,
    learning the systems, disk formats, etc - all without spending days
    assembling disks, boards and controllers (takes me 5 times longer than
    able bodies). I used to dabble in asm for the Z, and love being able
    to pick it up now with yaze-ag and make it work quickly.

    If I could figure out how to run CPM-86 on an x86 machine, I'd do it.
    I have a valid boot disk, but can't seem to get a hd formatted. Maybe
    it's too big - I tried partitioning a 500 mb drive with a single 6 mb
    partition, but no go.

    The emus are fun for guys like me. I don't make any pretense at PhD
    hardware knowledge. I'm just an old 8 bit hack, who 30 years ago wired
    up my white Z80 on a breadboard with a 555 timer, 8 led readouts, led
    driver chips, 8 2102 rams, a home-made 12-v variable power supply (that
    I built for my Ham rtty machines), with a 220 ohm resistor for a
    current limiter, and I tested stored instructions via the readouts. No
    Dr. Kildall, by a long shot. But it sure was fun. Now, with P.
    Schorn's great Altair emu and ag's fab Yaze-ag, I have really learned a
    bunch.

    BTW - these long discussions here about systems, bootstrapping
    processes, etc are really, really helpful to us amateurs. I appreciate
    all these postings, and bet that many non-poster folks are also
    grateful. Some stuff is way, way over my head, but learning is the
    pleasure.

    Thanks for the continuing ed, folks!
    Heyu




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