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Thread: Data General Nova 1200

  1. #1

    Default Data General Nova 1200

    dgnova.jpg

    I finally joined the minicomputer club with a Data General Nova 1200, populated with a CPU board, 4x 8KW core memory boards (for a full 32KW on board), and a CompuScan OEM I/O board.
    20190722_153549.jpg

    The guts of the front panel exposed, showing C&K switches and fancy incandescent bulbs.
    bare panel logic.jpg

    It's a beautiful machine. I've spent a little time inspecting it, and I'm slowing going through it to clean up the general funk that has built up.
    20190722_232821.jpg

    The chassis without the top cover:
    20190722_232828.jpg

    A closeup of the CPU board:
    cpu board.jpg

    So, here's my rough game plan for this machine:
    • Cleaning out the general dust and grime
    • Inspecting things like wires, capacitors, resistors for damage
    • Doing a simple test of the power supply by bringing it up slowly with a variac to reform the caps. No boards or front panel will be installed at that time, just dummy load bulbs on the various power rails. Don't want to blow up anything.
    • Repairing a damaged socket on the I/O board
    • Power on test of each of the boards (counting the front panel as a board) individually

    After that? I'm not entirely sure where to go. This will be a learning experience, and it will mostly likely take a long time. Not only will I be juggling it with other projects, I don't want to rush in and do anything stupid that would damage this piece of history. That being said, I look forward to toggling on that front panel.
    Current projects: The Cactus 6502 front panel homebrew computer 🌵, reviving a DG Nova 1200, upgrading an OSI Challenger 4P, fixing a Hero 1 robot, upgrading an AST Bravo, monkeying with VIC-20s, reverse-engineering a Decitek paper tape reader/punch, among other things...

  2. #2

    Default

    Very very nice!

    I've been trying to get a DG Nova for years.

  3. #3

    Default

    Ooh, jealous
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
    Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Moog Satellite, Oberheim SEM
    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Salisbury Maryland
    Posts
    862

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    I have a couple videos up on YouTube on my Rolm 1602 that’s a military version of the Nova, how to enter stuff and the like. Take a look at:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvUpfUj7pzA
    Lot of good Nova stuff out there like the basic debugger. The Holy Grail for me is getting the paper tape version of Nova Basic, been working on that for over five years now but not much progress. Was told that when you bought a Nova the paper tape version of Basic came with it.
    Good Luck.
    Qbus

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    107

    Default

    Nice! Was this from that typesetting business? I got a Nova clone and a TTY from that guy. Unfortunately, mine didn't come with the IO board, so I'll have to find one... somewhere.
    Current favorites: IBM 5160 (EGA+Hercules+PGC, 8 floppy drives, XT-IDE), DCC D-116 (Nova 1200 clone), ASR 33 Teletype (now FULLY armed and operational! Mostly.)
    Wishlist: IBM 5161 (expansion chassis), Diablo 31/RK02/RK05 or equivalent, Data General equipment, DEC TC01 or TC08N, and the meaning of life.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    35,737
    Blog Entries
    18

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    Anything DG-related, my source is Bruce Ray at Wild Hare Computer Systems. I haven't heard from him in a couple of months, so I hope he's still around.

    http://www.wild-hare.com/
    Last edited by Chuck(G); July 28th, 2019 at 10:59 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Central VA
    Posts
    4,877

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevets01 View Post
    Nice! Was this from that typesetting business? I got a Nova clone and a TTY from that guy. Unfortunately, mine didn't come with the IO board, so I'll have to find one... somewhere.
    Yep, I went and picked up what was left. There were spares for some of the Computer Automation stuff, maybe we can dig you up an I/O board.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    Yep, I went and picked up what was left. There were spares for some of the Computer Automation stuff, maybe we can dig you up an I/O board.
    Typesetting + Computer Automation is probably the "Naked Mini", used in the Linotron 202 phototypesetter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Central VA
    Posts
    4,877

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy View Post
    Typesetting + Computer Automation is probably the "Naked Mini", used in the Linotron 202 phototypesetter.
    Some of those 202s, yeah, and others. Seems CA and DG stuff was super popular in typesetting, this is not the first DG Nova stuff I've come across from typesetters!

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    Some of those 202s, yeah, and others. Seems CA and DG stuff was super popular in typesetting, this is not the first DG Nova stuff I've come across from typesetters!
    I worked at Expertype NY / Computer Composition International (the former was a type shop that had the first 202 in NYC and one of the first overall and the latter was a DG Nova-based company that sold the system that Expertype and others used).

    Trivia you might find interesting - the first 202s had a dumb design decision (many, actually, but this was the most annoying one) where if it didn't like the commands sent to it, it would act like a mule and start kicking (either locking up and refusing to do anything, or spewing loads and loads of roll film with gibberish on it - one of my favorites hung on my office wall and said - in a number of fonts - "Font le oops"). The only way to know what happened was to open the front door and look at the 16 error LEDs on one of the cards. I designed a remote display using a Radio Shack clock project case and 4 of the HP 5082 self-decoding hexadecimal displays, connected via a cable to the aformentioned logic board. If you find one that has white wire-wrap-style wires going to the LEDs on the board and coming out on a DB25 with a zinc chromate-yellow metal shell, that's one of mine. I saw a lot more 202s with those displays than I ever built, so either someone was copying me and selling them, it was a "great minds think alike" thing, or Mergenthaler decided to add it themselves. These greatly increased productivity (and decreased the amount of spoiled film from opening the doors and jostling the film receiver cassette).

    Also, if you've ever seen a transparent green plastic box a little taller than a business card, with a business card from Jack Powers and a TTS paper tape with a demo of what CCI could do for owners of a 202, that was me as well. IIRC, we sent out a copy of the "ANPA Fonts" diskette with it so everyone would have a copy of the necessary fonts - font licenses were originally keyed to individual machines and later extended to all machines at a customer, but the ANPA Fonts were the original demo fonts and were not machine-locked.

    Later on I went on to found a company, Pro-Comp, that sold front-ends to the Nova so customers could do input and editing on a much less expensive system. Our typical offering was a multi-user system with 4 Ann Arbor Ambassador terminals running MP/M and Wordstar. It had a dedicated interface to the Nova that looked like another tape reader for fast transfers. Fisher Composition was one of our first customers and their entry operators said they liked it much more than the official custom ADM-2 terminal. Some of the books entered on my system were "The Islamic Bomb" (Weissman/Krosny, 1981); "License Renewed" (Gardner, 1981) and "2010:Odyssey Two" (Clarke, 1982). These were all "first US edition" books for major publishers. Note that despite the afterword in 2010 stating that it was "transmitted electronically directly to the printer" it went to the publisher who printed it out on dot-matrix paper and marked up the copy. Fisher got the sheets of copy and it was re-keyed on one of my systems at Fisher's Arkville, NY location.

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