8-bitters and multi-whatever

Roy J. Tellason rtellason at verizon.net
Wed Sep 12 13:18:22 CDT 2007

On Tuesday 11 September 2007 07:50, Allison wrote:
> >On Sunday 09 September 2007 16:04, Allison wrote:
> >> >A while back I *almost* got a hold of one of those "z80 network in a
> >> > box" systems,  it wasn't S-100 but something else I can't recall,  I
> >> > think that's the one I have the book on,  but I never did snag it.
> >>
> >> Multibus, very nice bus and expensive cards.  I have a few multibus
> >> cards. Intel used it in their MDS800 and a few otehrs as well.
> >
> >I remember seeing that in some sales literature and it always did strike
> > me as being more spendy than I wanted or could afford to get into.  :-)
> It cost more because it was industrial strength, larger boards, regulated
> power and so on.


> >I know of ARCnet,  went to a short seminar on that once at a trade show, 
> > and in fact even have a couple of ISA cards around here someplace, 
> > though I don't forsee me ever using them.
> ARCnet and most of the 'nets were in the price range of a hard disk then.
> Also the whole idea of networking was new.  For example in 1982 the two
> largest networks I knew of were DEC (internal) and Dupont(internal) and
> they were around 50 nodes!

I remember those days,  thinking of 50 nodes as being pretty good-sized.  :-)

> There were a few simple schemes but excluding myself how many hobbiests
> back then had two or more systems?

Good point.  It took me quite a while to progress beyond my first machine,  
and even then it was CP/M boxes that people didn't want any more,  rather 
than newer/bigger stuff.  And I still have most of 'em.  :-)

> >> >I've also seen some "CP/M networking" stuff referred to that was
> >> > supposed to work through serial ports,  which pretty many machines
> >> > had,  althogh they appeared in at least one case to be using diodes to
> >> > wire-OR RS232 signals, which doesn't strike me as too terribly robust.
> >> >  And what software support there was for this wasn't real apparent.
> >>
> >> That was a poor mans networking.  Basically the serial ports were used
> >> as CD/CSMA bus and there was some protocal like Ethernet but slower and
> >> could use the usually common async chips.  I have such a net going for
> >> my CP/M crates and all.
> >
> >What does that take on the software side of things?
> Not a whole lot, CPnet could be used but it was easy enough to use plain
> vanilla CP/M2.2 and add your own BIOS drivers for "networked functions".
> defineatly home grown.

Modifying the BIOS of a machine was something I'd never quite gotten as much 
of a handle on as I'd like to.  I still have a Bigboard II that I didn't get 
the software with,  for example.  While it'll boot a Xerox 820 floppy,  that 
only gives me SSSD,  the DS or DD stuff won't work because the two versions 
of things map the I/O differently (the BBII from 80H rather than 00H).  I 
need to get back to hacking on that one of these days.

> >> >TurboDOS is neat,  and has some good design aspects in it,  but there's
> >> > too much legacy stuff in there for being able to run CP/M software,
> >> > stuff I'd leave out if it were me  and too much emphasis on the same
> >> > old Console / Printer / Disk Drives in the system,  as opposed to
> >> > something different or unique.  I found the same thing to be the case
> >> > when I looked at FORTH,  too much of the usual stuff,  and that was
> >> > supposed to have been used in some control applications?  I must've
> >> > missed something there...
> >>
> >> ????  Whats the question or point?
> >
> >Just that I'd like to see some stuff that isn't oriented that way.  You
> > have a SBC,  you obviously need some way to talk to it,  but the standard
> > "console" stuff gets a little old,  I probably don't want to hook a
> > printer up to it, and may not even want a disk drive of any sort, 
> > depending on what I wanna do with it.  I'm up for exploring some
> > alternative approaches to doing things. Unfortunately the embedded stuff
> > that's out there doesn't satisfy too often, the design being too specific
> > to the app,  source code not available,  etc. I'm thinking that it should
> > be possible to have some sort of a more generalized framework to hang
> > things on,  and then you could optimize it for specific uses,  or expand
> > it in different directions.  Even from the earliest days "personal"
> > computers all seemed to take pretty much the same approach to things...
> Well by hook or by grook the average PC still has a serial port, some have
> two or atleast a USB port for a USB to serial.

Actually amongst my stuff USB is a really recent phenomenon,  and I've only in 
the past month or two acquired anything that uses it -- an external DVD 
reader / CD burner -- and nothing else.  Most of my peecee hardware is older 
stuff,  and serial ports are not a problem,  by comparison with those whose 
hardware is more current.  So yeah,  having a serial port is probably one of 
the things I'd consider to be a necessary feature in there.  And it'll end up 
being able to talk to just about anything I'd be running.

> It's not that hard to write software to use that serial as a access from the
> SBC for things like a remote printer or disk and people have and are doing
> it. It's not "networking" in the full blown sense but none of the IO of a
> SBC is required to direct connection to a printer or terminal (ignoring rom
> based stuff).
> >I realized in other messaging a while back that it's been well over a year
> >since I fired up a soldering iron,  and this is a bad thing.  :-)  And
> > even then,  it was a matter of scrapping stuff,  not building anything
> > new and interesting.  I need to get out of that particular rut and get
> > back to it, or there's no point to all those parts I've been scrounging
> > for decades. Maybe one of these days I will...
> When you do tell us about it.   Seems these days I get to maybe one
> of the major computer construction based projects maybe two per year.
> But I split my time between RF projects and digital projects.

RF is a whole 'nother thing entirely,  and I've not even begun to do much with 

Yet.  :-)

Member of the toughest, meanest, deadliest, most unrelenting -- and
ablest -- form of life in this section of space,  a critter that can
be killed but can't be tamed.  --Robert A. Heinlein, "The Puppet Masters"
Information is more dangerous than cannon to a society ruled by lies. --James 
M Dakin

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