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Re: [midatlanticretro] NorthStar Horizon Woes

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  • Systems Glitch
    ... Do you have a ROM board? You can use my 8080/8085/Z80 monitor with your N* by writing an I/O module for it: https://github.com/chapmajs/glitchworks_monitor
    Message 1 of 24 , Oct 15, 2012
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      > Either way, I don't think I have any way of making some more boot disks
      > unless I can get to the monitor program to manually edit some memory
      > locations. Dave's NST utility can only work if I can put it into RAM, which
      > is either done by using a ROM board, or by using the monitor to edit the
      > utility in RAM.

      Do you have a ROM board? You can use my 8080/8085/Z80 monitor with your N* by writing an I/O module for it:

      https://github.com/chapmajs/glitchworks_monitor

      ...and if you don't know 8080 ASM I can probably help you write an I/O module for it. Also I can burn it to a ROM and mail it to you. And I've probably even got a spare ROM board somewhere!

      You could probably get the N* ROM monitor running as well. This will also require a ROM board. If you've got the N* Z80 board in your system, then you already have a ROM board, albeit only 1K in capacity. You may have to change the power-on-jump address from the location of the floppy controller ROM to the location of the Z80 board ROM (which is also jumper configurable). 1K is plenty for my ROM monitor (it occupies something less than 512 /bytes/, IIRC) and most likely for the N* monitor. Several of us, including me, can burn 2708s for you.

      Thanks,
      Jonathan
    • Kyle Owen
      I don t have a ROM board unfortunately. The processor card does have the space for the ROM add on, but none of the components are populated. Maybe it d be
      Message 2 of 24 , Oct 15, 2012
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        I don't have a ROM board unfortunately. The processor card does have the space for the ROM add on, but none of the components are populated. Maybe it'd be worth it to do that, though I would feel bad about modifying the original hardware, even if it was designed to do that. I feel it would devalue the system. On the other hand, I'm not looking to sell it anytime soon though.

        I have the ability to burn EPROMs using my Data I/O system, but I'm not sure it can do 1k ROMs. It certainly can't handle 1702As, though that's a different animal.

        Kyle

        On Oct 15, 2012 8:46 PM, "Systems Glitch" <systems.glitch@...> wrote:
         

        > Either way, I don't think I have any way of making some more boot disks
        > unless I can get to the monitor program to manually edit some memory
        > locations. Dave's NST utility can only work if I can put it into RAM, which
        > is either done by using a ROM board, or by using the monitor to edit the
        > utility in RAM.

        Do you have a ROM board? You can use my 8080/8085/Z80 monitor with your N* by writing an I/O module for it:

        https://github.com/chapmajs/glitchworks_monitor

        ...and if you don't know 8080 ASM I can probably help you write an I/O module for it. Also I can burn it to a ROM and mail it to you. And I've probably even got a spare ROM board somewhere!

        You could probably get the N* ROM monitor running as well. This will also require a ROM board. If you've got the N* Z80 board in your system, then you already have a ROM board, albeit only 1K in capacity. You may have to change the power-on-jump address from the location of the floppy controller ROM to the location of the Z80 board ROM (which is also jumper configurable). 1K is plenty for my ROM monitor (it occupies something less than 512 /bytes/, IIRC) and most likely for the N* monitor. Several of us, including me, can burn 2708s for you.

        Thanks,
        Jonathan

      • Systems Glitch
        ... That s entirely your call. It depends on if you want to keep the system original to how it was when you obtained it. Since the board was offered as a kit,
        Message 3 of 24 , Oct 15, 2012
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          > I don't have a ROM board unfortunately. The processor card does have the
          > space for the ROM add on, but none of the components are populated. Maybe
          > it'd be worth it to do that, though I would feel bad about modifying the
          > original hardware, even if it was designed to do that. I feel it would
          > devalue the system. On the other hand, I'm not looking to sell it anytime
          > soon though.

          That's entirely your call. It depends on if you want to keep the system original to how it was when you obtained it. Since the board was offered as a kit, I wouldn't consider populating the ROM option really a modification...at least not any more than rejumpering cards one has received with different settings.

          If you don't want to populate the ROM option and you are only interested in having a ROM monitor just to get some diagnostics done and some disks copied, I'm sure one of us has a ROM board you could borrow or buy.

          > I have the ability to burn EPROMs using my Data I/O system, but I'm not
          > sure it can do 1k ROMs. It certainly can't handle 1702As, though that's a
          > different animal.

          I can burn them with my IMSAI, if no one else can and you decide you want to use the ROM option on the CPU board. Otherwise, if you want a ROM board for debug and you're not concerned about it being absolutely correct for the system, I'd recommend finding something that takes 2716 EPROMs or newer. You'll have far less trouble finding blanks and, if the board is new enough, you can use EEPROM replacement devices.

          Thanks,
          Jonathan
        • Kyle Owen
          If I fold the Vpp and A10 pins out of the way on a TMS2516, can I use it instead of a 2708? It looks like it ll work. Maybe I ll modify my 64k RAM board design
          Message 4 of 24 , Oct 15, 2012
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            If I fold the Vpp and A10 pins out of the way on a TMS2516, can I use it instead of a 2708? It looks like it'll work. 

            Maybe I'll modify my 64k RAM board design to include switchable 2k ROMs at $E000 and above. Might as well, since I haven't even finalized the design of it yet. The link is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rkf74guymfstu7z/64kB_RAM_board_S100.pdf

            Kyle

            On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM, Systems Glitch <systems.glitch@...> wrote:
             

            > I don't have a ROM board unfortunately. The processor card does have the
            > space for the ROM add on, but none of the components are populated. Maybe
            > it'd be worth it to do that, though I would feel bad about modifying the
            > original hardware, even if it was designed to do that. I feel it would
            > devalue the system. On the other hand, I'm not looking to sell it anytime
            > soon though.

            That's entirely your call. It depends on if you want to keep the system original to how it was when you obtained it. Since the board was offered as a kit, I wouldn't consider populating the ROM option really a modification...at least not any more than rejumpering cards one has received with different settings.

            If you don't want to populate the ROM option and you are only interested in having a ROM monitor just to get some diagnostics done and some disks copied, I'm sure one of us has a ROM board you could borrow or buy.

            > I have the ability to burn EPROMs using my Data I/O system, but I'm not
            > sure it can do 1k ROMs. It certainly can't handle 1702As, though that's a
            > different animal.

            I can burn them with my IMSAI, if no one else can and you decide you want to use the ROM option on the CPU board. Otherwise, if you want a ROM board for debug and you're not concerned about it being absolutely correct for the system, I'd recommend finding something that takes 2716 EPROMs or newer. You'll have far less trouble finding blanks and, if the board is new enough, you can use EEPROM replacement devices.

            Thanks,
            Jonathan


          • joshbensadon
            ... Hi Kyle, You bring up a very good point. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong thing to do here. It s your system. When I was fixing my front panel
            Message 5 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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              --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Kyle Owen <kylevowen@...> wrote:
              >
              > The processor card does have the space for the ROM add on,
              > but none of the components are populated.
              > Maybe it'd be worth it to do that,
              > though I would feel bad about modifying the original hardware,
              > even if it was designed to do that.
              > I feel it would devalue the system.
              > I'm not looking to sell it anytime soon.

              Hi Kyle,

              You bring up a very good point. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong thing to do here. It's your system. When I was fixing my front panel board on the IMSAI, I found it was not modified with the latest ECO's. I had to choose, original configuration? or working configuration? Since my goal here is to have fun, I need a working system. To answer your question about devaluing the system, imagine you were now the buyer of your system. Would you pay less because someone populated the ROM option on the CPU card? I would be happy to have the system with or without the ROM. Now what I consider devaluating is when the system is severly mutilated. Case in point, consider the SWTPC on ebay, item# 150906347144, I would not take it.
              I have no use for a 70's computer that has been retrofited with 3-1/2" floppy drives.

              I feel the best thing to do, is to document your system in a journal. In 30 years, someone would be considering your work on the system to be of historical value. Your notes today will make any modifications more valuable. Imagine if you had a note stating the reason the original owner didn't populate the ROM secion?

              These old computers are part history and part techilogical fun, I think that's the facination that has captured us.

              Cheers,
              Josh
            • s100doctor
              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
              Message 6 of 24 , 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
              • Evan Koblentz
                ... Post of the year.
                Message 7 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                  >> Free your minds! ... Go write some 8080 binary code! Burn some solder! Burn the EPROMS! Burn some electrolytics! Burn them all!

                  Post of the year.
                • Mike Loewen
                  ... Right on, Herb! Mike Loewen mloewen@cpumagic.scol.pa.us Old Technology http://sturgeon.css.psu.edu/~mloewen/Oldtech/
                  Message 8 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                    On Tue, 16 Oct 2012, s100doctor wrote:

                    > 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!

                    Right on, Herb!


                    Mike Loewen mloewen@...
                    Old Technology http://sturgeon.css.psu.edu/~mloewen/Oldtech/
                  • Kyle Owen
                    Great post, Herb! I have taken your advice to heart. I m modifying my ZPB-2A board for a 2kB 2716 at $E000. I ll be booting to ROM in no time. I ll document
                    Message 9 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                      Great post, Herb! I have taken your advice to heart. I'm modifying my ZPB-2A board for a 2kB 2716 at $E000. I'll be booting to ROM in no time. I'll document this and let you put it on your website for others, if you want. It only requires one jumper and lifting a few pins. This would assume a card that never had anything installed. Otherwise, quite a few things would need to be removed, namely the -5V and 12V power supply sections for the 2708. Else, just lift the A10 pin on your EPROM and solder it directly to the ZA10 line. 

                      But I'll do a better write-up with pictures soon. That is, if it works!

                      Kyle

                      On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 6:28 PM, s100doctor <hjohnson@...> wrote:
                       



                      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


                    • Kyle Owen
                      Sad day...I don t have any 74LS136s to populate the address decoder for the PROM option. I guess it was time for a Digi-Key order anyways. Everything else is
                      Message 10 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                        Sad day...I don't have any 74LS136s to populate the address decoder for the PROM option. I guess it was time for a Digi-Key order anyways. Everything else is ready to go, though. 

                        Kyle

                        On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 7:03 PM, Kyle Owen <kylevowen@...> wrote:
                        Great post, Herb! I have taken your advice to heart. I'm modifying my ZPB-2A board for a 2kB 2716 at $E000. I'll be booting to ROM in no time. I'll document this and let you put it on your website for others, if you want. It only requires one jumper and lifting a few pins. This would assume a card that never had anything installed. Otherwise, quite a few things would need to be removed, namely the -5V and 12V power supply sections for the 2708. Else, just lift the A10 pin on your EPROM and solder it directly to the ZA10 line. 

                        But I'll do a better write-up with pictures soon. That is, if it works!

                        Kyle


                        On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 6:28 PM, s100doctor <hjohnson@...> wrote:
                         



                        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



                      • Dave McGuire
                        ... I have to voice agreement here, as someone who grew up on S-100 machines. There s really no such thing as an original S-100 system...the vast majority
                        Message 11 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                          On 10/16/2012 07:28 PM, s100doctor wrote:
                          > 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!

                          I have to voice agreement here, as someone who grew up on S-100
                          machines. There's really no such thing as an "original" S-100
                          system...the vast majority of them grew organically, usually in spurts
                          right after hamfests. There was really no such thing as a "clueless and
                          afraid to open the case" S-100 computer user in those days.

                          -Dave

                          --
                          Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
                          New Kensington, PA
                        • Mike Willegal
                          I m all for using these computers, but if you have a pristine or very rare unit, any changes you make should be reversible. Collectors will always value
                          Message 12 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                            I'm all for using these computers, but if you have a pristine or very rare unit, any changes you make should be reversible. Collectors will always value these factory fresh units more than those that have been altered. Too much change, could significantly reduce value.

                            If you have a rare or pristine unit, get it working, but don't modify. One option is to find another, less valuable machine that has already been altered to experiment with.

                            My original Apple II and Mac 128k had a number of changes made to them back in the "old" days, some not reversible. I still have them, but wish I had them in factory new condition. However, I don't regret making the changes, cause that is what we did, back then.


                            Regards,
                            Mike W
                          • Systems Glitch
                            +1, it s good to be a hacker with spare parts! Thanks, Jonathan On Tue, 16 Oct 2012 20:49:41 -0400
                            Message 13 of 24 , Oct 16, 2012
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                              +1, it's good to be a hacker with spare parts!

                              Thanks,
                              Jonathan

                              On Tue, 16 Oct 2012 20:49:41 -0400
                              Dave McGuire <Mcguire@...> wrote:

                              > On 10/16/2012 07:28 PM, s100doctor wrote:
                              > > 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!
                              >
                              > I have to voice agreement here, as someone who grew up on S-100
                              > machines. There's really no such thing as an "original" S-100
                              > system...the vast majority of them grew organically, usually in spurts
                              > right after hamfests. There was really no such thing as a "clueless and
                              > afraid to open the case" S-100 computer user in those days.
                              >
                              > -Dave
                              >
                              > --
                              > Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
                              > New Kensington, PA
                              >
                              >
                              > ------------------------------------
                              >
                              > Yahoo! Groups Links
                              >
                              >
                              >
                            • B. Degnan
                              ... 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 . ... with
                              Message 14 of 24 , Oct 17, 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!


                                First of all I don't want to beat up on those who do see vintage computers
                                like baseball cards and want "mint" condition specimens in the original
                                boxes. I am quite happy to sell my specimens on Ebay and make top dollar
                                to those who want them.

                                Herb and I have collaborated recently on restoring an old Bell and Howell
                                Apple II plus on Ebay, and we did what we could to merge our parts into one
                                complete "black" setup with two drives, so that we could get top dollar for
                                it. Herb did a great job re-paining one of the disk drive covers. My
                                point is that there is a time and a place for this kind of thing.

                                It will be interesting to see if the person who bought the Bell and Howell
                                Apple II plus will ever use it.

                                I have a boxed Apple iie that I never use, I guess because it's in the
                                original box. I always pull out the closest one on the shelf instead
                                because it's loose and with no special collectable value. I don't want to
                                "waste the good one" I suppose.

                                Anyway, I personally got into vintage computing to learn more about
                                electronics, and getting the systems to work is where I get the
                                satisfaction, not so much whether I trashed the case or replaced a part to
                                do it.

                                Corey of our group seems to have a good mix of the two. He likes to
                                restore items to stock, but he does the electronics himself to accomplish
                                this, that's where he gets his joy. And he does use his systems, i.e. the
                                MARCH Apple I replica.

                                >
                                > 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!
                                >

                                Good thing I have insurance and a fire extinguisher. Our workshop next
                                weekend is going to be a barn burner (I hope not).

                                BIll
                              • B. Degnan
                                ... assume ... for ... directly ... I think you mean $E800, right? You don t want to cut off the MDA drive controller that uses $E000 bd
                                Message 15 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                  >
                                  > Great post, Herb! I have taken your advice to heart. I'm modifying my
                                  > ZPB-2A board for a 2kB 2716 at $E000. I'll be booting to ROM in no time.
                                  > I'll document this and let you put it on your website for others, if you
                                  > want. It only requires one jumper and lifting a few pins. This would
                                  assume
                                  > a card that never had anything installed. Otherwise, quite a few things
                                  > would need to be removed, namely the -5V and 12V power supply sections
                                  for
                                  > the 2708. Else, just lift the A10 pin on your EPROM and solder it
                                  directly
                                  > to the ZA10 line.
                                  >
                                  > But I'll do a better write-up with pictures soon. That is, if it works!
                                  >
                                  > Kyle
                                  >

                                  I think you mean $E800, right? You don't want to cut off the MDA drive
                                  controller that uses $E000

                                  bd
                                • Christian Liendo
                                  ... Christian Liendo likes this!
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                    >From: s100doctor <hjohnson@...>
                                    >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!


                                    Christian Liendo likes this!
                                  • Kyle Owen
                                    Well, the MDS floppy controller (which is what I have) uses an address of $E800, so I m going to use $E000 as the ROM address. I may bring out a switch to the
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                      Well, the MDS floppy controller (which is what I have) uses an address of $E800, so I'm going to use $E000 as the ROM address. I may bring out a switch to the rear of the computer to set the power-on jump address between those two, if it's not too difficult. Their space-saving address method would make for selecting addresses with switches on the back a bit more difficult. I think it can still be done, though.

                                      Kyle

                                      On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 7:52 AM, B. Degnan <billdeg@...> wrote:
                                       

                                      >
                                      > Great post, Herb! I have taken your advice to heart. I'm modifying my
                                      > ZPB-2A board for a 2kB 2716 at $E000. I'll be booting to ROM in no time.
                                      > I'll document this and let you put it on your website for others, if you
                                      > want. It only requires one jumper and lifting a few pins. This would
                                      assume
                                      > a card that never had anything installed. Otherwise, quite a few things
                                      > would need to be removed, namely the -5V and 12V power supply sections
                                      for
                                      > the 2708. Else, just lift the A10 pin on your EPROM and solder it
                                      directly
                                      > to the ZA10 line.
                                      >
                                      > But I'll do a better write-up with pictures soon. That is, if it works!
                                      >
                                      > Kyle
                                      >

                                      I think you mean $E800, right? You don't want to cut off the MDA drive
                                      controller that uses $E000

                                      bd


                                    • s100doctor
                                      In a few words, Mike is largely correct. There s a market for rare and pristine stuff, and such things should be kept in those conditions and restored with
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                        In a few words, Mike is largely correct. There's a market for rare and pristine stuff, and such things should be kept in those conditions and restored with care. And if one's interests are on those terms, more power to them.

                                        But a lot of S-100 computers (among others of the era) are NOT in those conditions, for the reasons I cited. They may not attract "collectable" interest, even if they are. But my interests, are in preserving and restoring hardware for USE, and in preserving the legacy of knowledge and experience of use, repair and restoration of computers of that pre-PC era.

                                        "Preservation" is an important point, here's why. A lot of 1970's and earlier knowledge will be lost, as guys like me and my older colleagues die, and their collections are disbursed. Common wisdom from journalists and writers in the 21st century about personal computing, is about the "winners" - Apple, IBM, Microsoft - and mostly of their 1980's efforts. (Apple I interests notwithstanding.) Before all that - ugly boxes of boards, from a handful of basement hobbyists, that ultimately didn't matter because they didn't become zillionaires. That's the view I'm fighting - that, and time itself.

                                        And so, "don't touch that" is antithetical to the spirit AND EXPERIENCE that started personal computing in the 1970's. Even the idea of repair itself, may be lost in the 21st century. That's my belief, that's what I'm responding to, and that's why I am hot about it. But there's certainly room for showcase vintage computing, it helps to start the conversation, to "pull" prices up and encourage interest. Mike, thanks for making your points.

                                        Herb Johnson

                                        --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Mike Willegal <mike@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > I'm all for using these computers, but if you have a pristine or very rare unit, any changes you make should be reversible. Collectors will always value these factory fresh units more than those that have been altered. Too much change, could significantly reduce value.
                                        >
                                        > If you have a rare or pristine unit, get it working, but don't modify. One option is to find another, less valuable machine that has already been altered to experiment with.
                                        >
                                        > My original Apple II and Mac 128k had a number of changes made to them back in the "old" days, some not reversible. I still have them, but wish I had them in factory new condition. However, I don't regret making the changes, cause that is what we did, back then.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > Regards,
                                        > Mike W
                                        >
                                      • B. Degnan
                                        ... Horizon Woes ... of ... between ... Silly me, right. I got it backwards
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                          -------- Original Message --------
                                          > From: "Kyle Owen" <kylevowen@...>
                                          > Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:45 PM
                                          > To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                                          > Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] To change or not to change? Re: NorthStar
                                          Horizon Woes
                                          >
                                          > Well, the MDS floppy controller (which is what I have) uses an address
                                          of
                                          > $E800, so I'm going to use $E000 as the ROM address. I may bring out a
                                          > switch to the rear of the computer to set the power-on jump address
                                          between
                                          > those two, if it's not too difficult. Their space-saving address method
                                          > would make for selecting addresses with switches on the back a bit more
                                          > difficult. I think it can still be done, though.
                                          >
                                          > Kyle
                                          >
                                          Silly me, right. I got it backwards
                                        • Systems Glitch
                                          ... Do it in software. You ll have plenty of room in that 2708, doubly so in a 16kbit device. I ve done a similar thing using the front panel sense switch
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                            > Well, the MDS floppy controller (which is what I have) uses an address of
                                            > $E800, so I'm going to use $E000 as the ROM address. I may bring out a
                                            > switch to the rear of the computer to set the power-on jump address between
                                            > those two, if it's not too difficult. Their space-saving address method
                                            > would make for selecting addresses with switches on the back a bit more
                                            > difficult. I think it can still be done, though.

                                            Do it in software. You'll have plenty of room in that 2708, doubly so in a 16kbit device. I've done a similar thing using the front panel sense switch register on my IMSAI.

                                            Thanks,
                                            Jonathan
                                          • Jim Scheef
                                            Yea Herb!
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                              Yea Herb!


                                              On 10/16/2012 7:28 PM, s100doctor wrote:
                                               



                                              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


                                            • joshbensadon
                                              ... I don t know if it s so important to be able to reverse the change as much as it s to document it. When I applied all the latest ECO s to my IMSAI, I
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                                --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Mike Willegal <mike@...> wrote:
                                                >
                                                > I'm all for using these computers, but if you have a pristine or very rare unit, any changes you make should be reversible. Collectors will always value these factory fresh units more than those that have been altered. Too much change, could significantly reduce value.


                                                I don't know if it's so important to be able to reverse the change as much as it's to document it. When I applied all the latest ECO's to my IMSAI, I didn't mind cutting traces and installing jumpers. When I built my Mark-8 Replica kit, I put away the original (dimm) LED's and replaced them with bright LED's because my enjoyment means more than an original (replica) system. I guess to each their own, but I believe toys are to be played with. I only hope I'll break even when I sell them one day.

                                                :) Josh
                                              • joshbensadon
                                                ... I too get lots of satisfaction mastering and seeing these old beasts run. Part of it comes from trying to do the job while keeping it as original as
                                                Message 23 of 24 , Oct 17, 2012
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                                                  --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "B. Degnan" <billdeg@...> wrote:
                                                  > Anyway, I personally got into vintage computing to learn more about
                                                  > electronics, and getting the systems to work is where I get the
                                                  > satisfaction, not so much whether I trashed the case or replaced a part to
                                                  > do it.

                                                  I too get lots of satisfaction mastering and seeing these old beasts run. Part of it comes from trying to do the job while keeping it as original as possible. When I had to fix some broken keys on my OSI Superboard, I wouldn't know where to get replacement switches, so I had to open them up to the point where I could fix it. I made a nice write up on that with lots of pictures and posted on one of the OSI web sites for the next guy.

                                                  Long live the Eureka Moment! When everything just starts to work again.

                                                  :) Josh
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