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  • Larry Troth
    Hello I have just joined the group and I am looking forward to gaining some new knowledge regarding the old hardware that I have. After 20+ years in storage,
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 6, 2003
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      Hello

      I have just joined the group and I am looking forward to gaining some new
      knowledge regarding the old hardware that I have. After 20+ years in
      storage, I will finally be able to get my s-100 systems (yes, I have
      several) bake in operation. As I get them up I'll post pictures and info.

      My question is about some new hardware for these old systems. While I have
      a good supply of 8" floppy drives and floppies, it is only a matter of time
      till the last of them give up the ghost. Has anyone come up with a
      kit/board/schematic/??? to allow the use of the new 1.44Mb 3-1/2" diskette
      drives with these old systems? I would love to transfer my old data from
      the 8" media to the 3-1/2" media. Does anyone know of any web pages that
      discuss this? Are there any resources out there? (I found a site that has
      a new card for the SWTP 680 systems to do this, so what about he s-100
      systems?)

      Larry@...
    • alltare
      Welcome to the group. I haven t heard of any designs for using 3 drives. The Altair software and hardware was all designed around hard-sectored diskettes,
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 7, 2003
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        Welcome to the group.

        I haven't heard of any designs for using 3" drives. The Altair
        software and hardware was all designed around "hard-sectored"
        diskettes, and that may prove to be the biggest problem. I have
        never seen a hard-sectored 3" diskette- only soft-sectored.

        Of course, there were many other S-100 systems that did use soft
        sectoring, It might be a fairly simple task to do some timing
        changes on one of those old controllers for use with 3" disks. I
        don't know the rotational speed of 3" drives, but I think 8" and 5"
        ran at 360 and 300 RPM. Whatever the speeds, though, you would have
        to compensate for rotational speed differences by making timing
        changes to the circuits that generate the sector and byte timing. I
        could be full of beans here, but this approach doesn't immediately
        seem like it would be a major task. What do you other members think
        about this?

        Done this simply, you wouldn't be able to use the 3" to its full
        1.4MB capacity. You would still only use as many tracks as the
        original system, and as many bytes per track as the original system,
        and most likely only one side of each disk. There would be a lot of
        wasted potential, but at least you would be using "state-of-the-art"
        diskettes and drives (or maybe not so state-of-the-art. I just read
        that Dell will discontinue installing floppies on most future systems
        in favor of CDs). I recall that an 8" floppy back then held 320 to
        360 KB on about 80 tracks. I think 5" floppies held about half that
        much data per side on half as many tracks. It's been a long time,
        so don't take any of my numbers too literally, but I think I'm in the
        right ball park.

        What I would like to see is a CD burner that could be used in an
        Altair system, using Altair BASIC, that looked to the system like its
        own hard drive or floppy drive (now THERE'S a waste of space). All
        of that old software is rotting away on 25 year old diskettes and
        really needs to be archived on the more permanent CD medium. If you
        ever see anything like that, please tell us about it.

        I look forward to seeing your pictures.

        Steve
        ============================

        --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Troth" <larry@u...>
        wrote:
        > Hello
        >
        > I have just joined the group and I am looking forward to gaining
        some new
        > knowledge regarding the old hardware that I have. After 20+ years
        in
        > storage, I will finally be able to get my s-100 systems (yes, I have
        > several) bake in operation. As I get them up I'll post pictures
        and info.
        >
        > My question is about some new hardware for these old systems.
        While I have
        > a good supply of 8" floppy drives and floppies, it is only a matter
        of time
        > till the last of them give up the ghost. Has anyone come up with a
        > kit/board/schematic/??? to allow the use of the new 1.44Mb 3-1/2"
        diskette
        > drives with these old systems? I would love to transfer my old
        data from
        > the 8" media to the 3-1/2" media. Does anyone know of any web
        pages that
        > discuss this? Are there any resources out there? (I found a site
        that has
        > a new card for the SWTP 680 systems to do this, so what about he s-
        100
        > systems?)
        >
        > Larry@u...
      • Larry T.
        Actually, most of the controllers for 8 drives that I know were soft sector. Only the original MITS and ICOM controllers were for hard sector media. And
        Message 3 of 3 , May 21 4:20 PM
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          Actually, most of the controllers for 8" drives that I know were soft
          sector. Only the original MITS and ICOM controllers were for hard
          sector media. And ICOM came out with a later controller that did
          support soft sector floppies.

          As for capacities, the 8" media ran from 128Kb to 1Mb depending on
          density (1x, 2x, 4x) and # of sides (1 or 2).

          The early 5-1/4" drives started at 40Kb and worked their way up. I
          do not recall standard 360Kb on the s-100 systems, that was the
          starting point for the PC. However, Micropolis was the first to
          offer higher capacity drives, they just wern't very reliable and they
          deffinetly we not compatible with other 5-1/4" drives.

          I'll keep looking. If nothing else, I should eventually be able to
          adapt a later Western Digital floppy controller IC to a Tarbell style
          design to get a circuit that will give me the full use of the 1.44Mb
          media. CP/M did not have any problems with media of this capacity so
          it will just be a case of making the boot floppy and boot prom.

          If I find or create something, I'll post data on it back to the group
          for everyones reference.

          --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, alltare <no_reply@y...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Welcome to the group.
          >
          > I haven't heard of any designs for using 3" drives. The Altair
          > software and hardware was all designed around "hard-sectored"
          > diskettes, and that may prove to be the biggest problem. I have
          > never seen a hard-sectored 3" diskette- only soft-sectored.
          >
          > Of course, there were many other S-100 systems that did use soft
          > sectoring, It might be a fairly simple task to do some timing
          > changes on one of those old controllers for use with 3" disks. I
          > don't know the rotational speed of 3" drives, but I think 8" and 5"
          > ran at 360 and 300 RPM. Whatever the speeds, though, you would
          have
          > to compensate for rotational speed differences by making timing
          > changes to the circuits that generate the sector and byte timing.
          I
          > could be full of beans here, but this approach doesn't immediately
          > seem like it would be a major task. What do you other members
          think
          > about this?
          >
          > Done this simply, you wouldn't be able to use the 3" to its full
          > 1.4MB capacity. You would still only use as many tracks as the
          > original system, and as many bytes per track as the original
          system,
          > and most likely only one side of each disk. There would be a lot
          of
          > wasted potential, but at least you would be using "state-of-the-
          art"
          > diskettes and drives (or maybe not so state-of-the-art. I just
          read
          > that Dell will discontinue installing floppies on most future
          systems
          > in favor of CDs). I recall that an 8" floppy back then held 320 to
          > 360 KB on about 80 tracks. I think 5" floppies held about half
          that
          > much data per side on half as many tracks. It's been a long time,
          > so don't take any of my numbers too literally, but I think I'm in
          the
          > right ball park.
          >
          > What I would like to see is a CD burner that could be used in an
          > Altair system, using Altair BASIC, that looked to the system like
          its
          > own hard drive or floppy drive (now THERE'S a waste of space). All
          > of that old software is rotting away on 25 year old diskettes and
          > really needs to be archived on the more permanent CD medium. If
          you
          > ever see anything like that, please tell us about it.
          >
          > I look forward to seeing your pictures.
          >
          > Steve
          > ============================
          >
          > --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Troth"
          <larry@u...>
          > wrote:
          > > Hello
          > >
          > > I have just joined the group and I am looking forward to gaining
          > some new
          > > knowledge regarding the old hardware that I have. After 20+
          years
          > in
          > > storage, I will finally be able to get my s-100 systems (yes, I
          have
          > > several) bake in operation. As I get them up I'll post pictures
          > and info.
          > >
          > > My question is about some new hardware for these old systems.
          > While I have
          > > a good supply of 8" floppy drives and floppies, it is only a
          matter
          > of time
          > > till the last of them give up the ghost. Has anyone come up with
          a
          > > kit/board/schematic/??? to allow the use of the new 1.44Mb 3-1/2"
          > diskette
          > > drives with these old systems? I would love to transfer my old
          > data from
          > > the 8" media to the 3-1/2" media. Does anyone know of any web
          > pages that
          > > discuss this? Are there any resources out there? (I found a
          site
          > that has
          > > a new card for the SWTP 680 systems to do this, so what about he
          s-
          > 100
          > > systems?)
          > >
          > > Larry@u...
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