8-bitters and multi-whatever

Allison ajp166 at bellatlantic.net
Wed Sep 12 06:43:32 CDT 2007


>
>Subject: Re: 8-bitters and multi-whatever
>   From: "Ethan Dicks" <ethan.dicks at gmail.com>
>   Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 02:02:57 -0500
>     To: "General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts" <cctalk at classiccmp.org>
>
>On 9/11/07, Allison <ajp166 at bellatlantic.net> wrote:
>> There were a few simple schemes but excluding myself how many hobbiests
>> back then had two or more systems?
>
>In 1982, the year you quoted for those Arcnet networks, at age 16, I
>had 4 systems, a PET, a C-64, a Cosmac Elf, and a PDP-8/L (that I was
>trying to repair - took until 1984, when I finally tracked down a
>printset), but I'll grant you that at the time, the number of folks
>that had multiple systems were probably dwarfed by the number of folks
>who had only one.  Of those, due to minimal I/O and/or functionality,
>only the PET and the C-64 were "real" systems.

I knew I couldn't be the only one but I figured not many.  I was rare in 
I had at least 4 systems that would run CP/M making the need for interchange
more deireable. By that same year I also had COSMAC ELF, SC/MP 8a-500, 
National Nibble basic, IMSAI IMP-48, Motorola 6800D1, NEC TK80, and a 
LSI-11 with TU58. 

I was in contact with enough people that the incidence of multiple machines
was low.  the more common case was a apple, TRS-80 or S100 crate with storage
and one or more SBC that might have enough memory for TinyBasic.  The exceptions
were usually business or schools.

>Since I couldn't afford an IEEE-488 disk drive, rather than just move
>files back and forth on tape, basing it upon the cable and software
>from a contemporary "Byte" magazine, I fabricated my own
>nybble-with-handshake cable between the user ports of the PET and the
>C-64, and moved stuff from one to the other over that.  I might have
>used serial, if I'd had an ACIA-based port for my PET (there were a
>couple that sat in an expansion ROM socket), or if I'd understood more
>about the nature of serial comms and crufted up my own bit-banging
>routines for the PET (the C-64 had that in ROM already).  I understood
>parallel communications, so a nybble at a time it was.

Mine started when I needed to get stuff from the various CP/M systems 
that even when they had disks were incompatable hard sector to soft
or 8 and 5.25. I started with serial peer to peer as in pipmodem and
similar.  Later I did a two system resource sharing that grew to allow
up to a potential 256 systems. In '82 the whole thing peaked with a
multiprocessor S100 crate with intercommunications via pooled memory.

>
>Later, around 1983, when I picked up a VIC-20 on clearance for around
>$70, I would certainly would have liked to have had a Commodore
>network (based around the user port, most likely), but was unaware of
>anything I could build for myself, and certainly couldn't afford any
>of the "disk sharing" hardware I'd seen advertised to share PET disks
>amongst multiple machines.

Likely If i'd had more contact with the non-CP/M s100 world and the 
DEC PDP-11 world I'd have evolved things differntly. It didn't hurt 
that I'd had prior experience with the BOCES LYRICs PDP-8 and PDP-10
timeshare systems.  The S100 world allowed me to venture into a more 
hardware intensive world.

>It took me a few more years to learn enough about serial comms and
>computer networking to be able to roll my own hardware and/or
>software, but working for a serial comms networking company had a lot
>to do with that.  I would have loved to have been able to buy or build
>something inexpensive, no matter how slow, but even a multi-serial
>solution would have strained my high-school budget, as I presume it
>would have strained most hobbyists' budgets, or perhaps home
>networking would have gotten rolling before the days of Arcnet.

>I think the first network I had any hands-on experience with was
>AppleTalk/LocalTalk, when I helped my mother with a Corvus disk drive
>and a room full of 512K Macs, just before she started her own business
>(fortunately, by the time she did, she could afford a 20MB drive per
>CPU, so the network was for printing only).

By time the Mac hit I'd seeen DECnet and mixed PDP-11 and VAX system
in large networks with remote printing and all the trimmings we see on
the internet.  

>AppleTalk was a great step forward for home networking.  It's a shame
>that other vendors didn't follow in Apple's footsteps for many years.
>I think I had an Amiga for four or five years before I attempted to
>even do any serial networking (using DNet).  It was well after 1990
>before I was able to stick an Amiga on an Ethernet network, and that
>was with a $300 card! (there was a Zorro Arcnet card - the A2060, but
>I knew I wasn't going to bother with Arcnet by that time).

Appletalk was a really good, it's biggest feature is low cost both 
in hardware and memory footprint there were peripherals that would 
talk on the same net.

All of the things I did and got to see and use colored my perception 
of what computers could do.  Usually it was far greater than marketed 
capability.  I'd believed in '83 that if a VAX or PDP-11 could network
around the world a room should be easy enough. Also I'd seen what large 
machines could do years before and figured the only differnce doing it 
with a micro was either scale or speed.  In the span from'82 to '89
with PCs getting faster and Ethernet and internet both catching on
there was a communications explosion.  What isn't discussed here
is what the radio amateurs were doing with Packet networks and X.25 
protocals.  In some cases they were prototyping portable (toteable)
networks.


Allison



More information about the cctech mailing list