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Re: [midatlanticretro] building new vintage hardware (was 680..)

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  • Dan
    oh, I still have about 20 sockets left to replace, it s such an arduous task. Something I do in between my other projects. I m hoping that I ll get it done
    Message 1 of 21 , May 7, 2007
      oh, I still have about 20 sockets left to replace, it's such an arduous
      task. Something I do in between my other projects. I'm hoping that I'll
      get it done once the S-100 boards I'm designing are built.
      In the meantime, I'm going to fire-up my IMSAI, (figuratively speaking)
      so I can get my S-100 stuff running and be ready to test the new memory
      card designs.

      =Dan

      [ My Corner of Cyberspace http://ragooman.home.comcast.net/ ]



      B Degnan wrote:
      >
      > Dan,
      > Did you get your Altair 680 working?
      > Bill
      >
      >
    • Herb Johnson
      ... There was a recent discussion of MFM emulation in comp.os.cpm, where I participate. The discussion of vintage vs. modern design is also of interest
      Message 2 of 21 , May 8, 2007
        David Comley <david_comley@...> wrote:
        >
        > I'm hoping to be able to emulate a Micropolis 1325 at
        > a low enough level that it could support any
        > host/controller platform (that can use that particular
        > drive type/geometry etc). The drive emulation should
        > be transparent to the point where any low level format
        > can be overlaid on it by the controller or host.
        >
        > Doing an emulation of an MFM drive would be useful for
        > a variety of reasons for hobbyists, not the least of
        > which is the cost of replacement drives. The MTTF of
        > the platters in these drives is 4 years so they are a
        > dying breed; plus, emulation would make it possible to
        > expose the low-level formatting used by the hardware
        > vendor, something that there's not a great deal of
        > documentation on so far as I can tell.
        >
        > Of course talking about it is easier than actually
        > doing it...
        >
        > -Dave

        There was a recent discussion of MFM "emulation" in comp.os.cpm, where
        I participate. The discussion of "vintage" vs. "modern" design is also
        of interest to me. Here's my comments.

        In comp.os.cpm, it was noted that there WAS a MFM to IDE product, but
        it waa a few thousand dollars. Seems to me that one reason it is that
        high, is that it takes some bit of effort to support the variety of
        potential uses for such a product. Those who really need an MFM
        replacement, to keep production equipment going, will pay accordingly.

        The drive issue as cast in comp.os.cpm was about replacing an MFM
        drive in a S-100 system. It was suggested the owner use an IDE card of
        some sort, and write a driver. In some number of cases, it's more
        reasonable to replace the controller and adjust the software.

        The point of S-100 systems with a standard bus, was that you COULD
        replace and upgrade as needed. At least the hardware did not stop you
        from doing so. That concept spawned a computer industry from 1976
        through the 1980's. The IBM PC, to compete, HAD to offer 1) a bus and
        2) clear means to add to that bus - because S-100 and other systems
        set that standard. (In the minicomputer world, DEC set a similar
        standard as did other manufacturers.)

        In that light, there's been discussion here about building "new" S-100
        cards with either "vintage" hardware or with "new" hardware. Clearly
        an MFM to IDE device would be "new". It would require somewhat fast
        logic: either a programmable logic device, or a "computer on a
        board".

        But an IDE interface for S-100 or any Z80? - dirt simple, the IDE
        drive does all the work, just a few simple chips will do it (Google
        "GIDE"). But most people get stuck at the point where they have to
        write software to support that new device. (I should know, I first
        offered the GIDE interface in the USA, and I've watched its use.)

        Note to "purists" that say a vintage system has to have "original",
        vintage cards. Few REAL S-100 systems were "original", or stayed
        original. People upgraded as hardware improved, as software changed.

        The point? As I see it, if you are "into" old computers to show them
        off in original condiiton, then all this talk about "emulators" is
        moot. Pay $$$ for the last unused (or rebuilt) MFM hard drive and run
        it only on exhibit day. If you are in it because you can "dig into"
        it, then adapt some new hardware to old and start writing some CODE.
        If you are in it for "use" only, then you depend on others to keep
        providing working hardware: that, and your budget.

        Herb Johnson

        Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey USA
        <a href="http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/"> web site</a>
        <a href="http://www.retrotechnology.net/herbs_stuff/"> domain mirror</a>
        my email address: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com
        if no reply, try in a few days: herbjohnson ATT comcast DOTT net
        "Herb's Stuff": old Mac, SGI, 8-inch floppy drives
        S-100 IMSAI Altair computers, docs, by "Dr. S-100"
      • Jim Scheef
        Herb, Words of wisdom! As you note there is more than one way to enjoy vintage computing. Jim ... From: Herb Johnson To:
        Message 3 of 21 , May 8, 2007
          Herb,

          Words of wisdom! As you note there is more than one way to enjoy 'vintage' computing.

          Jim

          ----- Original Message ----
          From: Herb Johnson <hjohnson@...>
          To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Tuesday, May 8, 2007 2:36:33 PM
          Subject: [midatlanticretro] Re: Designing Vintage Hardware (was Altair 680 Basic - loading without paperta

          David Comley <david_comley@ ...> wrote:

          >
          > I'm hoping to be able to emulate a Micropolis 1325 at
          > a low enough level that it could support any
          > host/controller platform (that can use that particular
          > drive type/geometry etc). The drive emulation should
          > be transparent to the point where any low level format
          > can be overlaid on it by the controller or host.
          >
          > Doing an emulation of an MFM drive would be useful for
          > a variety of reasons for hobbyists, not the least of
          > which is the cost of replacement drives. The MTTF of
          > the platters in these drives is 4 years so they are a
          > dying breed; plus, emulation would make it possible to
          > expose the low-level formatting used by the hardware
          > vendor, something that there's not a great deal of
          > documentation on so far as I can tell.
          >
          > Of course talking about it is easier than actually
          > doing it...
          >
          > -Dave

          There was a recent discussion of MFM "emulation" in comp.os.cpm, where
          I participate. The discussion of "vintage" vs. "modern" design is also
          of interest to me. Here's my comments.

          In comp.os.cpm, it was noted that there WAS a MFM to IDE product, but
          it waa a few thousand dollars. Seems to me that one reason it is that
          high, is that it takes some bit of effort to support the variety of
          potential uses for such a product. Those who really need an MFM
          replacement, to keep production equipment going, will pay accordingly.

          The drive issue as cast in comp.os.cpm was about replacing an MFM
          drive in a S-100 system. It was suggested the owner use an IDE card of
          some sort, and write a driver. In some number of cases, it's more
          reasonable to replace the controller and adjust the software.

          The point of S-100 systems with a standard bus, was that you COULD
          replace and upgrade as needed. At least the hardware did not stop you
          from doing so. That concept spawned a computer industry from 1976
          through the 1980's. The IBM PC, to compete, HAD to offer 1) a bus and
          2) clear means to add to that bus - because S-100 and other systems
          set that standard. (In the minicomputer world, DEC set a similar
          standard as did other manufacturers. )

          In that light, there's been discussion here about building "new" S-100
          cards with either "vintage" hardware or with "new" hardware. Clearly
          an MFM to IDE device would be "new". It would require somewhat fast
          logic: either a programmable logic device, or a "computer on a
          board".

          But an IDE interface for S-100 or any Z80? - dirt simple, the IDE
          drive does all the work, just a few simple chips will do it (Google
          "GIDE"). But most people get stuck at the point where they have to
          write software to support that new device. (I should know, I first
          offered the GIDE interface in the USA, and I've watched its use.)

          Note to "purists" that say a vintage system has to have "original",
          vintage cards. Few REAL S-100 systems were "original", or stayed
          original. People upgraded as hardware improved, as software changed.

          The point? As I see it, if you are "into" old computers to show them
          off in original condiiton, then all this talk about "emulators" is
          moot. Pay $$$ for the last unused (or rebuilt) MFM hard drive and run
          it only on exhibit day. If you are in it because you can "dig into"
          it, then adapt some new hardware to old and start writing some CODE.
          If you are in it for "use" only, then you depend on others to keep
          providing working hardware: that, and your budget.

          Herb Johnson

          Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey USA
          <a href="http://www.retrotec hnology.com/ herbs_stuff/"> web site</a>
          <a href="http://www.retrotec hnology.net/ herbs_stuff/"> domain mirror</a>
          my email address: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com
          if no reply, try in a few days: herbjohnson ATT comcast DOTT net
          "Herb's Stuff": old Mac, SGI, 8-inch floppy drives
          S-100 IMSAI Altair computers, docs, by "Dr. S-100"


        • David Comley
          Well said, Herb. Having met so many MARCH folks at TCF, I started to think again about my own take on the hobby. I d profile my own collection and activities
          Message 4 of 21 , May 9, 2007
            Well said, Herb.

            Having met so many MARCH folks at TCF, I started to
            think again about my own take on the hobby. I'd
            profile my own collection and activities as being
            discovery - or re-discovery - related, rather than
            restoration/refurbishment to original condition. Most
            of the things I've acquired are missing covers or have
            dings and dents, and nothing could be said to be 'New
            in Box' or even close. Instead, I spend a lot of time
            trying to understand how things were connected or
            configured together (and even what they were used
            for). That often results in repair work to return a
            system to a bootable state (or in a long wait while I
            scour hamfests and swap meets to find a missing board,
            cable or disk).

            It's a great hobby, isn't it: each of us derives
            satisfaction from it from pursuing a different aspect
            or perspective - and hopefully we contribute to a
            broader pool of knowledge by doing so. One can only
            hope that we capture that knowledge somehow for
            posterity and the next generation of enthusiasts.

            -Dave

            --- Herb Johnson <hjohnson@...> wrote:

            > Note to "purists" that say a vintage system has to
            > have "original",
            > vintage cards. Few REAL S-100 systems were
            > "original", or stayed
            > original. People upgraded as hardware improved, as
            > software changed.
            >
            > The point? As I see it, if you are "into" old
            > computers to show them
            > off in original condiiton, then all this talk about
            > "emulators" is
            > moot. Pay $$$ for the last unused (or rebuilt) MFM
            > hard drive and run
            > it only on exhibit day. If you are in it because you
            > can "dig into"
            > it, then adapt some new hardware to old and start
            > writing some CODE.
            > If you are in it for "use" only, then you depend on
            > others to keep
            > providing working hardware: that, and your budget.
            >
            > Herb Johnson
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