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Thread: Strange expansion card on an IBM 5170

  1. #1

    Default Strange expansion card on an IBM 5170

    So I recently picked up an IBM 5170 kind of on a whim since it was pretty cheap, and decided to open it up and see what was actually inside it.

    I don't know much about its past life, but clearly someone didn't cheap out when they got it in '85. Its the 8mhz version with a full set of 640k conventional memory, with room for 2mb on the expansion card itself.

    But what confused me is what I've only been able to identify as a 62 pin D-sub connector, which you can see here:


    Pulling the card out, and doing some of my own research, I'm under the assumption that it was used to host a bunch of client side terminals. You can see the card in question here:

    And the back:

    But that's just an assumption, as I can't find anything definitive about this card. I'm mainly just basing my assumption on what Alloy Inc. (the manufacturer) seemed to specialize in. I'm also not sure what that 62 pin connector would have actually...connected to?

    If anyone has any ideas, or maybe worked with this kind of hardware in the past, please share your wisdom.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Silicon Valley


    It's a tape controller

  3. #3


    Well that's embarrassing, seems I was way off in predicting what this card is.

    Could you expand a little though? I'm curious what kind of tape drive this would have connected to. I can provide better pictures if needed, somehow the original photo's I uploaded were horribly downsized.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by SunSpotter View Post
    I'm curious what kind of tape drive this would have connected to.
    "ALLOY" is on the card.
    From the Internet, "At one point Alloy was a major producer of QIC format tape drives .."
    So perhaps an Alloy made QIC drive.

  5. #5


    I did find some Alloy tape drives available as of '86 that are all QIC-24, but the documentation on these drives is poor and pictures are basically non-existent. So there's no way of knowing if the connector is right? Many of the variously branded tape drives I CAN find pictures of are SCSI, which is frustrating. There are some product or maybe manufacturing codes on the card itself that are difficult to see in the pictures, but they haven't proved useful either. "PC HI" pops up in one place followed by S/N 1498, then in another followed by 100317 Revision C. I would assume one of those is the card model number, but again nothing seems to come up when searching that.

    Is the real secret that these 62-pin connectors were just the standard for tape drives at some point? It would be nice to know on the off chance I ever run across something compatible with this card, because it would be cool to set this computer up with some of the original hardware it had when it was used.

    In situations like this it's always tempting to try calling the company that originally made the item, and ask them for documentation. Someone's gotta have em in a dusty filling cabinet right? Right...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    NorthWest England (East Pondia)
    Blog Entries


    Whilst that sort of connector does get used for multiple serial cards, there are not enough chips on there for such a card. When the card is used for multiple serial cards you use an "Octopus Cable" to break out the serail ports... e.g.

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Blog Entries


    The "QIC-02" interface is pretty simple; basically address decoding and DMA and IRQ servicing.

    Here;s a similar unit from Everex

    Though I suspect that the Everex unit is a QIC-36 interface device (related to QIC-02).

    The funny thing is that very often, you see the cards and drives labeled as "SCSI" on eBay.


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