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Thread: Is there ISA USB card?

  1. #41
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    The boot disk for WinME was built into the "format" function of the floppy drive. If you can format a floppy, you can create a bootable disk. No install media/CD needed. However, what you can't do is press F8 at startup and pick "Command prompt only" like in 95/98. I imagine that turned a lot of people off of ME and made people think it was a big ole' mess, but I particularly liked WinME back in the day... /shrug. I also knew the DOS was under the hood (but missing the DOS prompt) but somehow made it work fine, even on a floppy-less (thus unable to boot from a recovery floppy if I wanted to) mini-notebook of the time (designed for 95/9.

    In~knee~waaaayyy... :P

    I imagine that USB support through ISA would be either basically impossible, or built through a layer of emulation (as in the lo-tech solution). Since USB is built on PCI in a number of ways in one direction, and built atop kernel driver support in another (notice that the Win95 USB supplement replaces krnl386.exe, kernel32.dll, user.exe, and a few other extremely low-level files?), I just don't see this happening finger-snap easily.

    In the vintage of early USB, there was already PCI, and thus no reason to try porting USB back to ISA -- the systems that were ISA-only were basically incapable of running the supporting OSes (Win98 barely as USB was coming "into its own"). Bare minimum: a Pentium. What Pentium doesn't have a PCI chipset? So, the ISA-supporting USB chipsets wouldn't have been built, the drivers wouldn't have been written, and we're basically never going to see it today (because big-company development follows the money).

    However, while we may never be able to plug a USB network adapter into a 386 with Windows 95 (don't laugh - it's my current hobby PC ) and see that familiar "Found New Hardware" popup... we might be able to create something using modern microcontrollers (e.g. Atmel / Arduino) that acts as a full-stack USB host on one side, and a happy 8-bit ISA card on the other (if folks get really magical, 16-bit for USB storage? Wait, well, Lo-Tech has that covered more gracefully with a dedicated USB-storage host chip). Then, that ISA card can present it to the OS in a number of emulated ways... like a COM port emulating a Microsoft Serial Mouse for example, to host a USB mouse.

    I just don't think there's a plug-in solution that existed in the era...

  2. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Orange View Post
    Not in all cases. I had a HP PIII PC that was given to me and it had ME installed. Never had the CD or any of the software itself.
    You don't need the CD.

    You go to Windows Setup (inside Windows) and make a boot disk.
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    If you're looking for DS/DD or DS/HD 3" or 5" floppy disks, PM me. I've got some new, used, and factory over-labeled disks for sale.

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  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    You don't need the CD.

    You go to Windows Setup (inside Windows) and make a boot disk.
    I know I don't need the CD. I really, really, don't need it. As I said a few posts ago, I don't have the thing anymore.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  4. #44
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    Y'all still on this ME boot disk stuff?
    IBM PS/2 Model 25, NEC V30 8MHz, 640KB RAM, ATI VGA Wonder XL, 2GB SSD, Ethernet, DR DOS 6/GeOS, Xircom PE3 Ethernet

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by evildragon View Post
    Y'all still on this ME boot disk stuff?
    No, I'm not anymore - I gave up. Why, do you want to get into it some more?
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by FalconFour View Post
    However, while we may never be able to plug a USB network adapter into a 386 with Windows 95 (don't laugh - it's my current hobby PC ) and see that familiar "Found New Hardware" popup... we might be able to create something using modern microcontrollers (e.g. Atmel / Arduino) that acts as a full-stack USB host on one side, and a happy 8-bit ISA card on the other..
    I suggested that a long time ago. I prefer the STM32 MCUs--they're cheap even the least of them runs at 72MHz and can handle USB OTG.

    If you think about it, using an MCU for USB isn't that outrageous. After all, regular UHCs aren't much more than purpose-built MCU chips. IIRC the first USB UHCs were 8051-based designs.

  7. #47
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    I've floated the idea in the past of using a programmable device to emulate the register file of a NIC (or anything else) on the ISA host side, throw an interrupt to an MCU on write, and have the MCU process the back-end emulation. I even built a board with an STM32 to try out the idea but never had the time to follow through. But it is the same principle as my NetPI-IDE project - only a RPi Zero on the backend.

    One could make the interface completely arbitrary in 2018. However I suggest emulating the register file of something ubiquitous like an NE2000. Otherwise the project will never quite be complete unless you write a packet driver, then a RNDIS driver, then a Win 3.1 driver, then a Novell... or anything else that already exists for 100 historical NICs.

    I don't suggest using an MCU to directly bit-bang ISA. Processing latency caused by interrupts (eg. USB) will cause response jitter. I would hate to see a project like that only work for a 4.77 MHz PC and fail in a turbo XT. So a CPLD/FPGA is best. The IDT 7000 series FIFOs would work to if existing register compatibility wasn't feasible for other reasons.

    Something similar is planned for the NetPI-IDE if I can ever get the project wrapped up. Write an IDE command to the emulator to send/receive frames, the RPi takes the frames and writes them to a Linux TUN/TAP interface, then you can setup routing or bridging to the wireless interface either over USB or on-board the RPi-Zero Wireless version
    "Good engineers keep thick authoritative books on their shelf. Not for their own reference, but to throw at people who ask stupid questions; hoping a small fragment of knowledge will osmotically transfer with each cranial impact." - Me

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