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26048Re: [midatlanticretro] Booting a NorthStar Horizon

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  • Dave McGuire
    Jun 1, 2012
      On 06/01/2012 11:04 PM, Kyle Owen wrote:
      > I have found a NorthStar Horizon and would love to get it booting. I
      > don't have any boot disks, however.
      >
      > What would it take to get some images burned onto 5.25" disks for this
      > computer? My only machine with 5.25" and 3.5" drives is a Compaq 386, so
      > I hope that doesn't limit my options.

      I think it's likely that Herb will chime in here.

      > Also, what OSs are available for Z80As? I would love to play with some
      > early Unix stuff, but I'm not sure if much of that would be available.
      > If I'm out of luck on the Unix end, then what is the preferred OS for a
      > Horizon?

      UNIX...you'd be hard-pressed to run UNIX on an 8-bit CPU with a 16-bit
      address bus and no MMU. There was UZI, which was a sort-of-UNIX-alike
      OS implemented on the Z180 (an "extended" Z80 originally implemented by
      Hitachi as the HD64180), but to my knowledge there was never a "real"
      UNIX implementation for Z80...and (speaking as someone who knows both
      Z80s and UNIX pretty well) a port would be damn near impossible.

      There are, however, plenty of interesting OSs for Z80s. CP/M is of
      course the canonical one. It's a wonderful OS, simple enough that one
      person can easily understand the entirety of it in a weekend of study.
      Add ZCPR3 and you've got quite an advanced system. I don't know much
      about Northstar equipment in particular (unfortunately...but would like
      to change that!), but I believe the OS of choice in that ecosystem is CP/M.

      There's also MP/M, the multiuser implementation of CP/M, but it
      usually requires special hardware support, so it's not really an option
      on all systems. I don't know if there was ever an MP/M implementation
      for the Horizon.

      My personal favorite is Forth. But wait, you say, Forth is a
      programming language, not an OS! Yes and no; Forth doesn't easily fit
      into any one "box". It CAN be a programming language system hosted on
      an OS, but it really shines when it's "running on bare metal", i.e.,
      when it IS the OS. I put a Forth of one flavor or another on every
      Z80-based SBC that I've built. It's amazing if you're willing to spend
      some time getting to know it.

      -Dave

      --
      Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
      New Kensington, PA
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