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dvanaria
May 27th, 2014, 12:13 PM
Does anyone have any knowledge/experience with this system?

I'm about to put a complete system up for online auction (includes original boxes and manuals and software!), only because I just finished fixing up my IBM PC XT and I can't keep both systems - I'm completely out of room in my house. I think I have a problem.

Anyway, I just want to make sure my listing is accurate. Can anyone confirm the following:

1. This computer came out in June 1982, about a year after the original IBM PC (Model 5150). That means Columbia Data Products was the very first to clone the IBM BIOS (even before Compaq), making this the first PC Clone that was commercially available.

2. This system only came with DOS for an operating system, even though the "Multi" in the name means it can run CP/M operating systems as well. Is this correct?

Thanks for any help! I have what I think is all the software, but thought it was odd there is a manual for CP/M but no software for it.

SomeGuy
May 27th, 2014, 01:02 PM
2. This system only came with DOS for an operating system, even though the "Multi" in the name means it can run CP/M operating systems as well. Is this correct?
I have one of those :D

All the ones I have seen came bundled with a CDP OEM version of both MS-DOS and CP/M-86. It should also be able to run just about any OS that ran on the IBM PC.

If your disks and manuals are complete, you should have a thick CP/M-86 manual and CP/M-86 floppy. Also, what version of DOS do you have? CDP re-branded their MS-DOS 1.25 as "The CDP Personal Computer DOS" and bumped the version number to 2.x. I think they later also shipped the actual MS-DOS 2.x.

Also, which model is it? There was the desktop MPC 1600-1, 1600-2, 1600-3, 1600-4 (representing different configurations) and the luggable VP.

I am curious what BIOS version your has. The BIOS version is important, because apparently version 4.36 or later is needed to use ISA VGA cards. (If you can dump the BIOS to disk using debug, I'd be interested in seeing that!)

dvanaria
May 28th, 2014, 05:41 AM
which model is it? There was the desktop MPC 1600-1, 1600-2, 1600-3, 1600-4 (representing different configurations) and the luggable VP
This is the 1600-1, but it looks like it has had upgrades put into it at a later time. It has a 40 MB hard disk which is running PC DOS 2.1, a memory expansion card, and a clock/calendar card. I believe the 1600-1 model was a dual floppy system with no hard disk.

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If your disks and manuals are complete, you should have a thick CP/M-86 manual and CP/M-86 floppy.
My system must not be complete then I have the CP/M-86 manual but no disk. All manuals and disks fit into two large slip cover boxes maybe there was a third?

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what version of DOS do you have? CDP re-branded their MS-DOS 1.25 as "The CDP Personal Computer DOS" and bumped the version number to 2.x. I think they later also shipped the actual MS-DOS 2.x.
The system floppy contains MS-DOS version 1.25, also listed as CDP version 2.11. However the hard disk has PC DOS 2.1 loaded on it. I dont think MS-DOS version 1.x supported hard disks, so maybe the previous owner had to use 2.x or above.

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I am curious what BIOS version your has. The BIOS version is important, because apparently version 4.36 or later is needed to use ISA VGA cards. (If you can dump the BIOS to disk using debug, I'd be interested in seeing that!)
How can I check? Im guessing DEBUG, but not sure of what statements to use.

SomeGuy
May 28th, 2014, 09:54 AM
Here is a guide on how to dump BIOS to disk with debug: http://www.mess.org/dumping/dump_bios_using_debug

In the case of the CDP 1600 series, it has 12k of ROM (three 4k chips) starting at FA00:0000

The version number should appear as a string in the BIOS such as "ROM/BIOS Ver 4.34". It might also be printed on the top of the ROM chips.

Unfortunately, mine is missing the operations manual. Does yours say anything about entering a diagnostics mode (other than ram test)? I can see one in the BIOS dump but off hand I am not sure how to activate it. That might display the BIOS version on the screen. Also, does it list what the motherboard dip switches do? (I have found several web sites that list their functions, but I don't think they are 100% right)

That CP/M manual looks like the one I have. The CP/M disk would look like this:

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I can point you to a disk image if you need.

That MS-DOS 1.25/CDP DOS 2.11 is the same version I have. It does not support hard drives or subirectories, so one would indeed need MS-DOS or PC-DOS 2 or later.

Are you sure it is 40mb? That sounds a little large for DOS 2.x. It only supports partitions up to 16mb but you can have multiple partitions.

What model of hard drive and controller does it have? I think CDP had some odd early controllers, but this sounds like a more like something more common someone added much later.

Also, does it have the CDP CGA card? Does it have an original CDP branded keyboard? (Thankfully, these will take a standard XT keyboard) What monitor are you using with it?

dvanaria
May 29th, 2014, 10:20 AM
Unfortunately, mine is missing the operations manual. Does yours say anything about entering a diagnostics mode (other than ram test)?
It turns out it does have a diagnostic mode, and when it starts it displays the BIOS version number (version 4.34, you were right). To enter the diagnostic’s mode, hit the ESCAPE key when it asks “TEST MEMORY?” during bootup. Here’s the first page from the manual which describes the diagnostics program, and a screenshot of what it looks like running:

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does it list what the motherboard dip switches do? (I have found several web sites that list their functions, but I don't think they are 100% right)
Strangely, it doesn’t mention the dip switches at all in the manual, at least not that I can find (I will let you know if I come across it though). Here is a photo of how the dip switches are set on my machine:

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Are you sure it is 40mb? What model of hard drive and controller does it have? I think CDP had some odd early controllers, but this sounds like a more like something more common someone added much later.
The hard disk is 40 MB formatted, 53 MB unformatted. It is a Micropolis ST-506, Model 1333A. The controller card is an Adaptec ACB-2010A. Unfortunately I’ve run into some problems with the hard disk – it wasn’t booting up and so I tried to format it, with no luck. I’m now trying to low level format it using the Adaptec manual I found online (the controller has a low level formatter built into its BIOS, accessible using DEBUG). I’ll let you know the outcome, hopefully I won’t have to replace the hard disk.

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Also, does it have the CDP CGA card? Does it have an original CDP branded keyboard? (Thankfully, these will take a standard XT keyboard)
It does have the CDP branded CGA card, but not the original keyboard. This one came with a KeyTronic KB 5150, which feels heavy duty and well built, but is actually a fairly crappy keyboard, in my opinion. For some reason they went with a membrane keyboard instead of a mechanical key switch. And the action on the keys just feels mushy.

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What monitor are you using with it?
Its an Amdek Video 300-A, an amber phosphor composite display.


Thanks for all the detailed questions, it’s helped me dig into the system more than I would have otherwise. I’ll let you know the outcome of the hard disk setup.

dvanaria
May 29th, 2014, 10:24 AM
Here's a photo of the display:

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And the keyboard:

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vwestlife
May 29th, 2014, 01:56 PM
This one came with a KeyTronic KB 5150, which feels heavy duty and well built, but is actually a fairly crappy keyboard, in my opinion. For some reason they went with a membrane keyboard instead of a mechanical key switch. And the action on the keys just feels mushy.

I believe those early Keytronic keyboards as the same design as the Compaq Portable's keyboard: they use capacitive switches, so technically they are mechanical -- just not clicky. The mushiness is from the foam pads under the keys with a piece of tin foil on the bottom of them, which completes the electrical circuit when you push them down.

SomeGuy
May 29th, 2014, 03:23 PM
Ok, 4.34 is the same bios version I have. Hopefully that hard drive will work for you. MS-DOS 3.3 with two partitions (32mb partition limit there) would probably be the best fit for an 8088 machine, since you are changing things around.

Might want to wipe that keyboard down before selling it, it looks kind of nasty :)

SomeGuy
May 31st, 2014, 06:53 AM
I almost forgot, if you have the parallel printer cable for this machine, you should be sure to include that. The plug for the parallel port on the back of the machine is different and larger than the one IBM or compatibles used. Actually, does your operating manual say anything about pinouts? Thankfully I have a cable, but I wonder why they went with such a huge connector?