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Thread: MAI Basic Four anyone?

  1. #21

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    Wow a Basic Four Forum! I used to work as a programmer on Basic Four computers writing and modifying accounting, point of sale, warehouse distribution, etc for a variety of customers back in the 1970's and 1980's. What really killed BF was the introduction of the 386-486 line of PC's that ran SCO Unix very efficient and faster than any BF machine. Companies like ProvideX and Basis came up with versions of Business Basic that ran on DOS and SCO and it was relatively easy to transfer data and programs from th BF computer to the Unix (or DOS) PC. I wrote programs that run on the BF machine and on the PC using the serial ports to transfer the data and programs, and did a lot of conversions. The advantage of the PC's were enormous beginning with the cost, speed, memory, and support for a lot of peripheral which could be purchased on the open market without being tied up to a vendor. To get into the new platform, customers did not have to re-invent the wheel, as their programs ran exatly the same as they did on the BF machine. I still support people using the old BF programs customized to their needs, now running on Linux or Windows, and with graphical and character, and even web oriented interfaces. Basis and ProvideX (or PXBasic as it is now called) provide graphical and web tools, but still support character interfaces. Instead of terminals you use networked PC's and terminal emulation programs. Yes, there was a life after BF.

  2. #22

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    With the help of Richard Swingwood, we have a working Microdata 1600 emulator which can run the firmware, and also supports Marathon disks and half inch tape of both types, as well as 8ways.

    I would love to find if anyone has either a tape to load the Basic Four system for the 1600 (1300 as Basic Four called it), and the firmware for said system. I would be glad to share the Microdata 1621 which I have running as well with anyone to further that project. The 1621 or 1630 were versions of the firmware which were similar to the Basic Four. But only RICM has a system that I know of that might have the disk images and firmware card.

    thanks
    Jim Stephens

  3. Default

    Has somebody a table of ESC sequences or Terminal control sequences in general for the Model 7270 Terminal ?
    I am aware of the manuals @ bitsavers.org, but there is only a "service manual" with hardware infos, and a bit about the terminal keys, but no explanation about how to position the cursor (e.g. from a BASIC program, not by using the keys) etc.

  4. #24
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    Before the Basic Four operation got started, didn't MAI get into re-leasing IBM unit-record gear? I'm pretty fuzzy on memory, but I seem to recall using 026 and 024 keypunches where the IBM badge was replaced with an MAI one.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Before the Basic Four operation got started, didn't MAI get into re-leasing IBM unit-record gear? I'm pretty fuzzy on memory, but I seem to recall using 026 and 024 keypunches where the IBM badge was replaced with an MAI one.
    It wasn't just unit record, unfortunately. I had the misfortune of dealing with a MAI memory expansion on a 370/125 CPU. The installer came in with a sawzall, cut a 4" x 4" hole in the side of the 3125 CPU cabinet and proceeded to run a bazillion wire wrap wires between the two. It required a special IMPL procedure, where you started with the expansion memory offline, then interrupted the IMPL at a specific point and brought the expansion memory online. If you didn't follow this exactly, you got both "CPU Early" and "CPU Late" states at the same time and had to power off and start over.

  6. #26
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    Well, around the mid 70's, I seem to remember there were several third-party contenders for S/370 memory expansion, Intel and CDC among them. I hadn't realized that MAI had gotten into that business also. I have no idea what effect the third-party products had on an IBM service contract, but I suspect that it engendered a fair amount of finger-pointing.

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Well, around the mid 70's, I seem to remember there were several third-party contenders for S/370 memory expansion, Intel and CDC among them. I hadn't realized that MAI had gotten into that business also.
    I don't know if MAI built it, or if they were just passing thru hardware from somewhere else.

    That 125 was the "born under a bad sign" system and we got out of its lease at the earliest opportunity. It was the only 370 we had with a hardcopy console (oversize Selectric mechanism) and couldn't feed continuous-form paper to save its life. To make things worse, opening the cover to adjust the paper (de-scrunching it from the side it piled up on) would cause DOS/VS POWER to crash and take the whole DOS with it if anything happened to try to output to the console with the cover open.

    I have no idea what effect the third-party products had on an IBM service contract, but I suspect that it engendered a fair amount of finger-pointing.
    We had the grumpiest IBM CE ever anyway, so I'm not sure it would have made much of a difference. The CPUs were pretty reliable, despite lots of abuse (I have a story of our beloved 138 in the works over at my blog) - it was the peripherals that tended to act up. This wasn't helped by our CE, who ignored the "no smoking" signs in our computer room and liked to leave cigarette butts inside the disk drives.

  8. #28
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    Was that console typewriter the direct descendant of the 1052? (My experience extends only to the S/360 stuff).

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Was that console typewriter the direct descendant of the 1052? (My experience extends only to the S/360 stuff).
    3210, according to the site prep manual. The picture of the 3210 matches my recollection of the beast.

  10. #30
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    Yeah, the 1052 looks quite a bit beefier. First cousin to the 2741.

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