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24420Re: [midatlanticretro] DECmate IIs for sale

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  • Dave McGuire
    Feb 19, 2012
      On 02/19/2012 09:05 PM, Evan Koblentz wrote:
      >> One of the things we might do tomorrow is quick-and-dirty testing
      >> of our four Rainbow 100s. We can problem sell two of them. Price
      >> and details to be determined. But, if any MARCHins want to throw
      >> your hats in the preliminary ring, then email me off-list.
      > I was wrong. These aren't Rainbow 100s. They are DECmate IIs.
      > We attempted to test all four of them. But I think we didn't have
      > the right disk. We tried using a known-good CPM disk -- it works fine
      > for booting the Rainbow that we have on exhibit. I thought it would
      > work in the 'mates, but no such luck.

      Nope...The DECmate line (-I, -II, -III, -III+) are basically tiny,
      partially lobotomized PDP-8s. They are built around the Harris/Intersil
      6120, which is a single-chip PDP-8.

      The -I is built into a VT100 chassis, you've seen the -II, and the
      -III/-III+ look very much like MicroVAX-2000 lunchbox machines.

      They were marketed as dedicated word processors, running "appliance"
      software called WPS. It was actually pretty good. There's a hacked-up
      version of OS/8 for them called OS/278, which isn't very good. The
      register-level interface for the console terminal port is incompatible
      with that of the standard KL8 interface, and lots of software writes
      directly to it, which means many programs written for PDP-8 systems will
      not run under OS/278.

      I'm pretty sure there was actually a CP/M option card for at least
      the -II and possibly (a different one) for the -III. They won't, of
      course, run CP/M without such a card.

      Long ago, I investigated the possibility of doing a hardware mod to
      the -II to make its console IOTs compatible with the KL8, but it ended
      up requiring more logic than would have comfortably fit in the chassis.
      That sucks, because I could've sold a bunch of them.

      > DEC-heads, what should we do next? Is there a different boot disk
      > that we need?

      OS/278 and/or WPS. I have both, but not yet in PA. I will get you
      copies of it when I can, unless someone beats me to it.


      Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
      New Kensington, PA
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