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clh333
April 16th, 2017, 04:26 AM
I recently acquired an IBM Displaywriter, as pictured below, but without the keyboard that is shown in the illustration. I have the monitor, CPU, 8" twin disk-drive unit, printer, sheet-feeder plus disks, software, ribbons, etc.

I do not have any documentation. Q1 is: Does anyone have any?

Q2: Can the drives be adapted to use with another IBM machine, e.g. an XT?

Q3: Can any other IBM keyboard - F or M, for example - be substituted for the OEM?

Thanks for your replies.

-CH-

37843

roberttx
April 16th, 2017, 05:05 AM
I do not have any documentation. Q1 is: Does anyone have any?

Here you go: http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/pdf/ibm/6580_Displaywriter/

Also: http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/bits/IBM/Displaywriter/

clh333
April 16th, 2017, 05:40 AM
Yowza! Thanks!

-CH-

nigwil
April 16th, 2017, 04:47 PM
I recently acquired an IBM Displaywriter, as pictured below

Nice to see a complete system. You're going to have to scramble to get ahead of the mech-heads though to find a keyboard, the Displaywriter keyboard is in hot demand among the mechanical-league.


Q2: Can the drives be adapted to use with another IBM machine, e.g. an XT?
Q3: Can any other IBM keyboard - F or M, for example - be substituted for the OEM?

Sergey(shattered on github and here) has done some impressive reverse-engineering of the Displaywriter (see here: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.php?55404-IBM-Displaywriter/) and we got to the stage of RE the keyboard driver when I was assisting a few months ago. The Displaywriter keyboard has its own protocol for handshaking with the system unit. I guess with something like an rPI you could get the keyboard/floppy-drives connected to other things, although definitely not compatible out of the box (very different cables/software etc).

clh333
April 17th, 2017, 04:13 AM
Nice to see a complete system. You're going to have to scramble to get ahead of the mech-heads though to find a keyboard, the Displaywriter keyboard is in hot demand among the mechanical-league.


Sergey(shattered on github and here) has done some impressive reverse-engineering of the Displaywriter (see here: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.php?55404-IBM-Displaywriter/) and we got to the stage of RE the keyboard driver when I was assisting a few months ago. The Displaywriter keyboard has its own protocol for handshaking with the system unit. I guess with something like an rPI you could get the keyboard/floppy-drives connected to other things, although definitely not compatible out of the box (very different cables/software etc).

Thank you for your reply.

I saw an eBay posting for three IBM 8-inch drives, bought them and contacted the seller to arrange pickup. He said he had "other equipment" but had already sold the keyboards which were apparently in another listing. If one had been available I would have taken it. He has more equipment for sale: http://www.ebay.com/usr/davimarin_7?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2754

I don't know who the mechanical-league are. Could you explain?

I'm at ground zero with the Displaywriter, which also is missing a "daisy-wheel" print head. There will be a lot of reading, cleaning and testing before I am far enough along to worry about communicating with the terminal. One day I'll find the keyboard, but if you happen to see one would you please let me know?

I just acquired a Pi 3B a week or two ago. I was very impressed with the unit's capabilities. I am more familiar with the Arduino and Parallax boards, but one of these should be able to act as an interface, provided I can figure out what the signals should be. I'll check what Sergei has done.

Thanks again.

-CH-

roberttx
April 17th, 2017, 04:22 AM
I don't know who the mechanical-league are. Could you explain?

There are a lot of people who are enthusiasts for old mechanical style keyboards, including the Model F and the Displaywriter keyboard. You might take a look at Deskthority to learn more.


I saw an eBay posting for three IBM 8-inch drives, bought them and contacted the seller to arrange pickup. He said he had "other equipment" but had already sold the keyboards which were apparently in another listing. If one had been available I would have taken it. He has more equipment for sale: http://www.ebay.com/usr/davimarin_7?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2754


I'm glad to hear that somebody here got them - it was just too far away for me. If you ever decide to part with any, please bear me in mind.

clh333
April 17th, 2017, 05:38 AM
Here you go: http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/pdf/ibm/6580_Displaywriter/

Also: http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/bits/IBM/Displaywriter/

Downloaded all. Thanks again.

-CH-

Adventurer
April 17th, 2017, 11:21 AM
Congratulations! I'm sure you will be able to restore it to working condition. Displaywriter keyboards pop up on sale from time to time. though not very often. By thehre t way, there are two types of keyboards for IBM Displaywriter - first, the Beamspring model, but somewhere around 1983, an early model of IBM model F keyboard was made for this machine, called a "low profile keyboard". I have seen it only with a German layout though...
37871

Anyway, if you have a doube density disk drive (Label on disk locking handle 1S/2D), I can send you a working floppy with a Textpack 4 software, free of charge.

clh333
April 17th, 2017, 12:05 PM
Congratulations! I'm sure you will be able to restore it to working condition. Displaywriter keyboards pop up on sale from time to time. though not very often. By thehre t way, there are two types of keyboards for IBM Displaywriter - first, the Beamspring model, but somewhere around 1983, an early model of IBM model F keyboard was made for this machine, called a "low profile keyboard". I have seen it only with a German layout though...
37871

Anyway, if you have a doube density disk drive (Label on disk locking handle 1S/2D), I can send you a working floppy with a Textpack 4 software, free of charge.

Congratulations or condolences: I'm not sure which is appropriate at this point. But the machine has already cast its spell** and I will see this through, probably with massive amounts of help from the VCF as usual.

I received eleven disks with some form of program on them, ten of which were loose in sleeves and one was lodged in one of the drives. Most are IBM training, one has typewritten "DISKETTE NAME: 1400" and another of the same type but labeled "1300". The one in the drive is hand-labeled "Reportpack, Textpack 6, Chartpack, Asynchronous Communications" "Combined program". There are other disks in containers that I believe are blank - unlabeled - but as I have no way of reading their contents at this point I don't know anything for sure.

I'm putting the disks away for safekeeping now. It would be very generous of you to send me a copy of Textpack 4 but let's hold off until there is a clear need.

The drives are Model 6360 and say 1/2D on the locking handle. The back of the CPU console has a series of numbered ports, all of which are D shaped and none identified as to use. However, none is the familiar round DIN-5 that my model F keyboard uses to communicate with my XT.

Thanks for your responses.

-CH-

** 8-inch drives! 8086 CPU! CPM/86 and p-System OS capable!

clh333
April 17th, 2017, 12:17 PM
I'm glad to hear that somebody here got them - it was just too far away for me.

I had never seen an 8-inch drive in my life, so I was willing to make the trip. RT CLE to CHI 14 hours, average speed 56 MPH (Indiana is under massive reconstruction). Didn't have a forklift or a pallet so I lugged everything out of this person's attic, down to the alley and stuffed it into my Mitsubishi Mirage.

Modem 7 is right: that printer is HEAVY! I have a SilverReed daisy-wheel that I thought was massive but is only about half the size of this beast.

-CH-

Al Kossow
April 17th, 2017, 02:41 PM
The one in the drive is hand-labeled "Reportpack, Textpack 6, Chartpack, Asynchronous Communications" "Combined program".

this is something that a bunch of people have been looking for

nigwil
April 17th, 2017, 03:30 PM
Congratulations or condolences: I'm not sure which is appropriate at this point. But the machine has already cast its spell**
I think a masterpiece of IBM over-engineering from that era and exemplar of an era of computing (the word-processing generation) that is under-represented (as in very few surviving systems).



I received eleven disks with some form of program on them, ten of which were loose in sleeves and one was lodged in one of the drives. Most are IBM training, one has typewritten "DISKETTE NAME: 1400" and another of the same type but labeled "1300". The one in the drive is hand-labeled "Reportpack, Textpack 6, Chartpack, Asynchronous Communications" "Combined program". There are other disks in containers that I believe are blank - unlabeled - but as I have no way of reading their contents at this point I don't know anything for sure.

There would be several people interested in getting images of your software. Textpack is the general name for the word-processing system and the higher Textpack number delivers more functionality at the cost of needing more memory to operate. If you're willing to risk sending your floppy diskettes on a short holiday there are several people who could safely image the diskettes and return them to you.

I've collected some details about Displaywriter here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SYY_HrBqKjSOX9W4fe5xUsjbfiCt0Umjpo4ZIwgG3Nk/edit?usp=sharing

roberttx
April 17th, 2017, 03:40 PM
this is something that a bunch of people have been looking for

Presumably the "Asynchronous Communications" part is to do with the comms card, like that in one of my machines?

nigwil
April 17th, 2017, 04:04 PM
Presumably the "Asynchronous Communications" part is to do with the comms card, like that in one of my machines?

There are several ways of connecting the Displaywriter to another system, the 3277 DE (Device Emulation) card for mainframe access, printer-sharing (also via the 3277 card) and the comms-card that provided async/bisysnc connection options, and many variations of these for different protocols. An interesting twist is that one of the comms options is via a card plugged into the external floppy drive unit. This makes the hardware/software connection between the system unit and the external floppy unit much more complicated than expected to just handle a pair of floppy drives.

This manual goes into detail about all the communication options:

http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/pdf/ibm/6580_Displaywriter/S241-6439-2_Displaywriter_Communications_Service_Manual_Feb8 3.pdf

clh333
April 18th, 2017, 02:57 AM
There would be several people interested in getting images of your software. ... If you're willing to risk sending your floppy diskettes on a short holiday there are several people who could safely image the diskettes and return them to you.

I would be happy to make the disks available for copying if we can figure out a way to do so without putting them in the hands of the common carriers. I've had too many things damaged in transit and as a consequence I now make a policy of transporting things personally if they are supposed to be in operational condition and the trip is not prohibitive.

Last year I drove 1400 miles - to New Hampshire and back - to retrieve a Roland GRX 400AR plotter, $50 on eBay. So, yes, crazy.

-CH-

roberttx
April 18th, 2017, 03:55 AM
There are several ways of connecting the Displaywriter to another system, the 3277 DE (Device Emulation) card for mainframe access, printer-sharing (also via the 3277 card) and the comms-card that provided async/bisysnc connection options, and many variations of these for different protocols. An interesting twist is that one of the comms options is via a card plugged into the external floppy drive unit. This makes the hardware/software connection between the system unit and the external floppy unit much more complicated than expected to just handle a pair of floppy drives.

Interesting. I had not realised that the printer sharing card in my one "Primary" machine was also a 3277 DE card. Other than that, I have the comms card in another machine but no ports 4A or 4B on the back of the FDD, so presumably nothing interesting in there.

Perhaps the OP should have a look at the backs of his FDDs?

Adventurer
April 18th, 2017, 11:58 PM
Just forgot to mention- when you power it on, prepare for some smoke - the filter capacitors (encased in a metal), right where the power supply cable connects, might blow up, possibly causing a circuit breaker tripping. The machine does not even have to be switched on - as soon as the cable is connected, filter capacitors are receiving power.

You can either choose to replace them, or use the machine without them.

I did see this listing when the guy had the keyboards as well, but since there was no shipping option, I could not get anything from him anyway. Too bad he did not sell them as complete system, but as far as I know, someone offered several hundreds of dollars for the keyboards alone, and he did agree...

clh333
April 19th, 2017, 02:36 AM
Just forgot to mention- when you power it on, prepare for some smoke - the filter capacitors (encased in a metal), right where the power supply cable connects, might blow up, possibly causing a circuit breaker tripping. The machine does not even have to be switched on - as soon as the cable is connected, filter capacitors are receiving power.

You can either choose to replace them, or use the machine without them.

I did see this listing when the guy had the keyboards as well, but since there was no shipping option, I could not get anything from him anyway. Too bad he did not sell them as complete system, but as far as I know, someone offered several hundreds of dollars for the keyboards alone, and he did agree...

Thanks for the "heads up" on the capacitors. I will find a keyboard one day; until then I will get an error if I power up the machine anyway.

I think the seller was only interested in clearing out his attic before moving. It was his wife who worked for IBM and who was the fan of the machines.

-CH-

shattered
April 21st, 2017, 10:49 AM
Nice to see a complete system. You're going to have to scramble to get ahead of the mech-heads though to find a keyboard, the Displaywriter keyboard is in hot demand among the mechanical-league.

Sergey(shattered on github and here) has done some impressive reverse-engineering of the Displaywriter (see here: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.php?55404-IBM-Displaywriter/) and we got to the stage of RE the keyboard driver when I was assisting a few months ago. The Displaywriter keyboard has its own protocol for handshaking with the system unit. I guess with something like an rPI you could get the keyboard/floppy-drives connected to other things, although definitely not compatible out of the box (very different cables/software etc).

Keyboard can be made to talk USB via controller replacement -- http://downloads.cornall.co/ibm-capsense-usb-web/ibm-capsense-usb.html

My reverse-engineering/emulation effort is on hold -- the emulator (MAME) can boot some disks (diags, CP/M) but not the actual word processor. Of course, anyone is welcome to continue it :-)

clh333
April 23rd, 2017, 03:49 AM
There would be several people interested in getting images of your software. Textpack is the general name for the word-processing system and the higher Textpack number delivers more functionality at the cost of needing more memory to operate. If you're willing to risk sending your floppy diskettes on a short holiday there are several people who could safely image the diskettes and return them to you.

I previously offered to make the disks available for imaging if we could avoid sending them through common carriers. My principal concern is the potential for damage through mishandling, including X-ray inspection.

Here is one practical solution: I would be willing to bring them to the VCF Midwest meeting in Chicago (Elk Grove) in September if one of the interested parties - or one of their designates - would also attend and bring with them the requisite equipment for imaging. Alternately someone may know of a site nearby having an installation capable of performing the task.

-CH-

clh333
April 23rd, 2017, 04:14 AM
Keyboard can be made to talk USB via controller replacement -- http://downloads.cornall.co/ibm-capsense-usb-web/ibm-capsense-usb.html

My reverse-engineering/emulation effort is on hold -- the emulator (MAME) can boot some disks (diags, CP/M) but not the actual word processor. Of course, anyone is welcome to continue it :-)

Thank you indeed for your reply. I learned a great deal from the link provided and links therein. I now understand, for example, why the "beam spring" and "buckling spring" mechanisms are so named and how they operate. It also seems possible that an early Model F keyboard might differ from a Displaywriter keyboard mainly in terms of its connector's configuration.

-CH-