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Thread: Dimension 68000

  1. #1

    Default Dimension 68000

    Hi all,
    I'm not new to vintage computer collecting, only to this forum. The biggest part of my collection is a boatload of Dimension 68000 computers and parts.

    Never heard of it? Well, it was made by Micro Craft of Dallas, TX in the early 1980s. Latest date on the software I've seen is 1984.
    In native mode it ran CP/M 68K and with plug in cards could emulate 8086, Apple II and Z80 (each emulator card had the appropriate processor on it). The emulation is a bit unstable (ok, a lot unstable) but native mode works great.

    There was an R&D effort going on in a nearby city, I have most of the stuff from that facility including working computers, all kinds of boards both populated and blank, software and other miscellaneous parts.

    My very first computer was a Tandy 1000TX (purchased new) that I upgraded with a 32MB hard drive card (paid over $300 for it) and VGA. Traded it several years ago for a Kodak Diconix 150 Plus printer to go with my laptop. The laptop died, the printer lives on.

    Second computer (purchased new) was an IBM PS/1 Consultant, 486DX33 with 8MB ram and came with OS/2. Dropped in a DX2-66 some years ago and used it for a very long time. Still have it, still works.

    One of my favorite items in my collection is a Printronix P6040L line printer. Big brute of a dot matrix printer, was used at my POE for printing labels. It ran 8+ hours a day (two shifts of production) for several years and still works reasonably well. Fast? Yes. Loud? Oh yes.

    If anyone has any questions I'll be more than happy to attempt an answer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Saginaw, MI, USA 48601
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    At last! Someone else familliar with the Dimension 68K. I was beginning to believe I was the last person on earth who remembers them. So, do you have any to share/swap/sell? I donated mine to the museum several years ago, but lately have been missing the ol' girl, and wouldn't mind having another (or even the same one again). What kind of monitors do you use to avoid that "ripping" problem of the top few lines? Do you have any RGB boards, or hdd controlers for them?

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi Terry,
    Yes, indeed, I have plenty of parts. I haven't taken an inventory (something I really should do) so I'm just going off the top of my head here...

    I have a stack (head high!) of chassis, probably 3 or 4 of them could be made operational with minimal effort.

    RGB cards in abundance and I can make the required ribbon cable.

    Winchester adapter cards in abundance; however, I don't have a PROM burner to copy the PROMs. Also, these cards are very finicky, I've had several of them work for a day or two and then quit.

    Plenty many 512K ram cards. I use one in my working machine for a total of 1M ram. Very useful for making ramdisks to speed up operations.

    Large number of 8086 and Z80 plug in emulator cards and emulation software.

    I may have one Apple II emulator card. I do have working emulator software. I don't think I have any unpopulated cards, otherwise I could build a working one (or just call it a kit).

    Bunches of empty cards just waiting for the components to be added (except for the aforementioned Apple II).

    Parts bins full of components. All components of the motherboard (including plugs, headers etc.) and plug in cards.

    Keyboards. Some are NIB. A standard PC or AT keyboard won't work on the Dimension 68000. I have had more than one keyboard work for a few days and then quit.

    Stacks of floppy drives, Shugart SA455.

    Software galore, mostly copies with handwritten labels used for the development of emulator improvements and a few things that were never released. It's been a while since I've fired one up so I don't know how badly disk rot has set in. Most of it has been kept in a climate controlled environment.

    The machine I have working now uses an RGB adapter driving a Magnavox EGA monitor. I haven't seen any tearing at the top of the screen. I've also used a Tandy CM-11 with success. For composite output, I have an Amdek and a Zenon. A tv with composite video input doesn't work very well, about like any other computer with composite out.

    I would trade a working Dimension 68000 with all the goodies (except Apple emulator) for a working EPROM burner. As for selling, the last one I sold was complete (minus monitor) and went for $100, including shipping. I'm not out to make a buck, I'm losing big money on this. I bought all this stuff to keep it from going to the dump.

    Oh yeah, got manuals, too. Most of them are available on floppy in WordStar80 format. Once again, don't know how badly disk rot has set in.

    In fact, I'm going to fire up the ol' girl this afternoon and see how the disks have held up. Hmm...having a vision now of setting up a serial link and getting all the docs on a cd...

    Ok, gonna go dig through the stuff now and see if there are any Apple cards in there...

    Kent

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    Saginaw, MI, USA 48601
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    Kewl! Sounds like you got a gold mine there. I don't have a burner to swap you, but I'm interested in some of what you've got. I think I'm gonna try and get my old one back. I probably have something to entice the guy who has it now into a swap. If I manage to pull that off, I'll still want to deal you out of the Winchester controller, RGB card, and 512K mem upgrade, as well as software & docs. I'm going out his way tomorrow, so I'll see what kind of deal I can make. If I get the ol' gal back, would you like copies of the Apple ROMs? Are there even any ROMs on the 6510 board? (I don't remember).
    IIRC, the Z80 disk format is the same as Kaypro's, so you should be able to copy them with 22Disk or similar, without having to mess with a serial link. The Apple disks are another story tho.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  5. #5

    Default

    Terry,
    Been digging through the Dimension stuff and it pretty much confirms what I said earlier about the card availability.

    Only one 6512 card in the whole, big pile. Has all the chips, guess I'll have to plug it in and see if it works.

    Plenty RGB, Winchester controller and RAM cards.

    Software is in 3 shoeboxes, I'll start going through them soon.

    I may post some pictures on my brand new website within the next few days.
    http://www.cox-internet.com/dimensiondude
    Kent

  6. #6

    Default

    Welcome to the VC Forums!

    It looks like you've already found folks with similar interests so. . .

    Enjoy!

    Erik

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Pennsyltucky LOL LOL
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    Default

    dude, I'm interested also.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Saginaw, MI, USA 48601
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    Quote Originally Posted by DimensionDude
    Terry,
    Been digging through the Dimension stuff and it pretty much confirms what I said earlier about the card availability.

    Only one 6512 card in the whole, big pile. Has all the chips, guess I'll have to plug it in and see if it works.

    Plenty RGB, Winchester controller and RAM cards.

    Software is in 3 shoeboxes, I'll start going through them soon.

    I may post some pictures on my brand new website within the next few days.
    http://www.cox-internet.com/dimensiondude
    Kent
    Well, I went to visit my old friend, to deal him out of the D68K, so now I'm in the market for parts, etc. I'll be needing:

    Winchester controller

    RGB video board

    Memory expansion board, preferably populated

    Manuals

    Software (including hard drive utilities)

    Btw, you wouldn't happen to have the promised-but-never-delivered TRS-80 and/or Commodore 64 emulation software would you?

    Anyways, let me know what you want for the items mentioned above, in cash or swap.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  9. #9

    Default

    Terry,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, there's some sort of weirdness going on that requires me to log in twice to actually get logged in so I don't see the "new message" icons. I visually check the dates and I guess I missed this one I'm thinking that the weirdness has to do with Firefox, I may have to upgrade IE and try that.

    I currently have an RGB card and a RAM card burning in right now. I plugged them into my working machine and have it running an RGB demo program from a RAM drive. If they run for 24 hours without problems I'll assume that they're ok.

    Only a few of the Winchester controllers were complete and I don't think that any of them work. The best I could get was "controller not responding" from one of them. This was without a hard drive attached as I don't have a working MFM drive. When I first got this stuff some years ago I had a hard drive work for a few days then would get the "controller not responding" problem. I have a boatload of the cards, but only a very few have all the PLAs in place and I don't have any way of duplicating them.

    Much better news on the software front. There were no disk failures while copying, a good sign considering that most of them are 20 years old. There are 8 disks total with all the available utilities and support programs. I'm including 2 originals since I have multiples of them.

    As for the docs, there are plenty of text files on those disks that explain the basic operation of the programs. I'll also include a 3.5" disk with files of the manuals. Unfortunately, none of these are complete. I have a complete set of hardcopy manuals but they're all in those mini 3 ring binders. The pages are too small to work in an autofeed copier
    It would be *really* dull to hand feed each page. I do have a scanner but I've never used the OCR, I may give it a shot and see how it goes. Methinks this will be slow and dull, too, but at least I won't have to pay to use a copier

    Didn't find any emulation software for the TRS80 or Commodore. However, the FORMAT program has an entry that will configure a drive for TRS80 (model III, I think) disks, among others. There's an entry for IBM SSSD but not DSDD even though the drive is capable of it. If you know the parameters you can make a new entry in the program.

    Now for the price...I'm thinking $40 US for all of it, including shipping. That will be for the following:

    RGB card with ribbon connector and installation instructions
    RAM card with 512KB and boot disk configured for 1MB total system RAM
    Winchester HDD controller that may or may not work (with cables)
    1ea 3.5" floppy disk (IBM) with all available manuals
    8ea. 5.25" floppy disks (Dimension) with various files, utilities, etc.

    That floppy count of 8 includes the 1MB boot disk.

    Let me know if that's acceptable.

    Oh yeah, you mentioned trade, I can do that, too. At this moment, the one thing that I can really use is a Sound Blaster with S/PDIF output. Gotta be a Sound Blaster, though. The software for my ATI All In Wonder doesn't recognize my Turtle Beach Malibu.
    I'm open for other stuff, too. Give me a list of what you're willing to trade.

    Kent

  10. #10

    Default

    Chris2005,

    After my Dimension adventures of the past few weeks I'm going to be cautious about listing what I have available
    Some of the parts are getting unreliable in their old age, especially the keyboards. Read the posts titled "Keyboard Woes" for the full story, but the short story is that they are now guaranteed to fail within a very short time.

    The HDD controllers are screwy, too. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't
    They are guaranteed to promote frustration.

    I found a copy of an e-mail where I had sold a Dimension 68000 for $150 including shipping. It was complete except for a monitor. If you're still interested, we can talk
    I'll probably start putting one together, anyway. Just because

    Kent

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