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View Full Version : I specialize in "semi-compatibles"



Chris2005
March 3rd, 2005, 04:43 PM
I like anything early (IBM wise), but I particularly like the "semi-compatibles" - Tandy 2000 (my first puter), NEC APC and APC III, Mindset, Victor 9000, DEC Rainbow, Zenith z-100/120, Sanyo MBC-555. Early 8088/8086/80188/80186's, a few early '286's. ANYTHING w/a 80186. I fancy the idea of building a motherboard one of these days - based on the '186 of course. There was an article in Radio Electronics in '87 I think on building something like this, intended for a robot though. I'm learning there were a handful more pc's based on the '186 than I thought (Burroughs ICON turned up this week in a search).
If you're interested in digging deep into this stuff, I suggest you join my yahoo group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tandy2000/ Not alot of activity as of yet. I'll be posting various technical facts and whatnot when I find more time. The ultimate aim is to learn what made these thing incompatible w/the original IBM PC, and how to make them run it's software. I know a smattering of assembly language, basic, c, and I thought it would also be fun to write a more or less simple game for the T2K or the NEC, due to the fact that it had much better graphics (until the EGA etc. came along).

Terry Yager
March 3rd, 2005, 06:11 PM
Hi, Chris!

I've always been p'ticular fond of those oddball, semi-compatibles too. One of my all-time favorites is the Victor 9000. To this day, I still believe it has the prettiest character set (font) of any computer I've ever seen.
Are you interested in buying an Ampro Little Board LB-186 computer? This is a '186-based sbc with the same footprint as a 5.25" floppy drive. It has the usual compliment of ports, plus on-board SCSI, which can also be configured as an i/o bus. If you're interested, I'll go dig it out of storage for ya. Asking fifty buck$, or whaddaya got to swap?

--T

Erik
March 3rd, 2005, 07:12 PM
Welcome to the VC Forum, Chris!

I tended towards the "pure" compatibles myself back in the day, but I can see why the oddballs would be more interesting now.

Enjoy!

Erik

Chris2005
March 7th, 2005, 04:17 PM
I don't think I'd be interested Terry. That's basically the one I already have, except that this one has a v40 instead (NEC's answer to the '186). I don't have the scsi pal's though. Not yet...

Chris2005
March 7th, 2005, 04:21 PM
Believe you me Erik, we all tended to the pure compatibles in those days. Spent a considerable amount of energy trying to get our anything but pure compatible to run IBM software. Still an interesting pursuit if you ask me. One might ask why, but you do learn a thing or two (-thousand) about computers. I taught myself assembler on my T2K years and years and years....ago. Still learning too :).

mbbrutman
March 21st, 2005, 07:35 PM
Oddballs rule. That's why you need a PCjr. :-)

The DEC Rainbow and the Mindset are awesome machines. A demonstration of the Mindset at a computer show in NYC in the early 80s was mindblowing - I still remember the graphics and the machine over 20 years later, even though I have not seen one since.

Chris2005
March 26th, 2005, 09:25 AM
I remember seeing the demo of an eagle flapping it's wings on the Amiga in a computer store, probably a 1000. I doubt I actually saw it on the Mindset, but that demo originated on it. Pretty sure it was the same thing.

Unknown_K
March 27th, 2005, 12:04 AM
Would the Texas Instrument Professional Computer fall into semi-compatibles? I seen one of those units in a magazine during the 80's and always wanted one.

Terry Yager
March 27th, 2005, 06:09 AM
Would the Texas Instrument Professional Computer fall into semi-compatibles? I seen one of those units in a magazine during the 80's and always wanted one.

IIRC, the TI ran MSDOS, but otherwise was 100% incompatible with the IBM. I think it still qualifies as semi-compatible tho, just by sharing the same OS.

--T

Chris2005
March 28th, 2005, 11:35 AM
The TIPC ran it's own version of ms-dos - it will not boot with standard ms or pc dos. All the semi's (depending on what you include in that group) had to have dos tailored for their particular hardware. I'm finding lately though that at least 2 - the DEC Rainbow 100 and the NEC APC III had versions as high as 3.3 - the Tandy 2000 only went up to 2.13. The APC III did have a comapatibility board, SLE or Software Library Expander, so I guess I have to allow for it's 3.3 being more or less standard ms-dos. But it may have been very popular in Japan, and had a certain amount of popularity here too, so maybe they did the work...dunno.
One surprising thing is though the GW-BASICs that came with these things WILL run on a clone...to a degree anyway. The dos and bios services differed on a number of these - you don't have alot of the functionality on say the APC III as on a Tandy 2000 (or an IBM PC). Many of the dos and/or bios services just weren't implemented. The TI is like this also. If you try running GW for the Tandy 2000 on a clone, most things including graphics commands (pset, circle, line) should work, because up to a certain point in time, the Tandy 2000 shared most of the same bios and dos service routines, if in number only. I guess then that BASIC made use of these for the low level dirty work.