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27702To change or not to change? Re: NorthStar Horizon Woes

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  • s100doctor
    Oct 16, 2012
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      It's funny to read these days, about concerns of "modifying the system from original", when talking about S-100 systems. It's funny to me, because quite simply, I was there at the time they were so-called "original".

      People - like me - bought these old S-100 systems to USE, not to protect with plastic covers and never scratch them up. Most of these systems NEEDED upgrades, and required several different brands of cards, to eventually do something "standard". There really were NO STANDARDS, for many years.

      And cards were bought as kits, bare boards. They were chopped up. That's why these systems had busses, dudes - for more cards! And often, old hardware was TERRIBLE - it had to be replaced. Some of it didn't even work when designed.

      And then, there's today. Do you own one of these puppies to show off on a shelf? to sell on eBay? or to USE?

      I say - put this old technology to USE!

      Specific to this thread: "should I upgrade the Northstar CPU board with a ROM?" - SURE! Why NOT? You may have to modify the board a bit, to use a 5-volt only PROM, which will be easier to program. So WHAT? Build a little daughter card to plug in, if you don't want to hack the CPU board to death. That's why there are schematics, and manuals - to LEARN HOW TO MODIFY AND USE these boards!

      Do it! Do it! Make it WORK! If it doesn't work, try something ELSE! If it breaks, FIX it!

      USE, and mods, and different boards - that was the point of these S-100 systems. That's what was done in the era. That's what all those assemblers and compilers and editors were about. Protoboards, and boards with blank areas on them. All those ROMS! Those jumpers! Over 140 companies made S-100 cards. Why fuss so much, if your particular S-100 system isn't "standard"? ALMOST NONE OF THEM WERE. Especially the oldest S-100 systems, that most people talk about here.

      If putting a ROM on a CPU board "breaks" NorthStar DOS, then figure out WHY! Read the manuals, the sources. Disassemble the binaries. Tear it all apart, and put it together again! WHY NOT?

      That's what WE did, in the era! Before MS-DOS. Before "the Empire" of IBM and Microsoft. Before the "clone wars" of Taiwan PC's in the 1990's. Before Dell and HP and other megacorps, made PC's so powerful, they could finally run the crappiest, bloated, mind-numbingest OS's ever written.

      Free your minds! of visions of eBay auctions of "mint" Altairs! You have nothing to lose but your chain-store computers! Go write some 8080 binary code! Burn some solder! Burn the EPROMS! Burn some electrolytics! Burn them all! Be like your predecessors. Make the world safe for personal computing again!

      Happy Halloween,
      Herb Johnson
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