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Macintosh IIFX with TI MicroExplorer LISP processor card

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    Macintosh IIFX with TI MicroExplorer LISP processor card

    I saw this system pop up on craigslist near me... later that evening it was in the trunk of my car. The gentleman I got it from was doing artificial intelligence work for the Navy. Quite a fancy machine in its day...

    A MacII which has been upgraded to a IIFX.
    32mb of ram, 80mb hdd (I have since upgraded this to a 2.1GB)
    Syquest drive, tape backup (which uses standard audio cassettes!), 270 mb external HDD, Ethernet card, Radius card
    and...

    The Texas Instruments MicroExplorer system. This is basically a computer on a card (well 2), with it's own memory (8mb in this case) and processor running a Lisp enviroment.

    Did I mention it came with PILES of documentation? And 3 versions of the software for the TI card!

    I did some looking around online, and couldn't find any copies of the software, even on BitSavers. I spent an evening making images of all of the disks, and they were all readable!
    These are in Diskcopy 4.2 format.

    http://compu85.homeip.net/stuff/ti/

    Unfortunately in all of the documentation there was no install guide. I'm still trying to get the system to load up. I'll be messing with it more soon!

    Here are some pictures of the machine. Note the double, full length card. That's the TI system.
    IMG_20141122_194819.jpgIMG_20141122_194828.jpgIMG_20141122_195344.jpg

    I have the original 14" CRT, but it's able to drive the 19" LCD just fine.

    Thanks!

    -Jason
    My Site (under construction!) | My Apple Lisa 2/10

    #2
    That's pretty cool. Did you get a good deal on it? I would expect it might have gone fairly high if it had gone on eBay.

    From counting the memory chips on the pictures of the two boards my guess is that it has 12MB total, 4MB on the processor board and 8MB on the memory expansion board. Is the memory 36-bits wide, or 32-bits wide with ECC? I don't know anything about this hardware.

    Comment


      #3
      Wow, would be cool to have one of those (very rare).

      Glad you dumped all the software disks those are unobtanium.
      What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
      Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
      Boxed apps and games for the above systems
      Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

      Comment


        #4
        That's a serious find. I've been looking for a lisp computer/card for a while. I'm glad you made images of the disks -- as you are so right -- the software is the hardest to find. When you get a chance you should PDF the documentation -- that would be interesting to look through.

        Comment


          #5
          Very, very cool. I had been trying and trying to buy a IIci with a DayStar Power Card (Daystar LISP, huge NuBUS memory card.) The seller absolutely refused to ship.

          Comment


            #6
            The DayStar RAM Power Card isn't a LISP machine. It's a RAM card only. The Symbolics Macivory (1 or 2) LISP machine can use one for LISP memory, but that's the end of the association between LISP and DayStar.

            Comment


              #7
              Jealous! I miss the Mac II series - wish I'd grabbed the IIx I saw at a recycle center earlier this year when I had the chance.

              Betcha the folks over at Macintosh Garden would love to have those disk images.
              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

              Comment


                #8
                Thought you might be interested in this, as well:

                http://www.ebay.com/sch/twenex/m.htm...1&_ipg=&_from=

                Looks like this guy has all the TI LISP manuals, even a poster. Very expensive, though. Although he has the Make an Offer option.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Oh cool, it's one of those people. That sucks.
                  [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  [No time for videos? Click here to visit my Twitter feed @CelGenStudios]

                  = Excellent space heater

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by olePigeon View Post
                    Thought you might be interested in this, as well:

                    http://www.ebay.com/sch/twenex/m.htm...1&_ipg=&_from=

                    Looks like this guy has all the TI LISP manuals, even a poster. Very expensive, though. Although he has the Make an Offer option.
                    Excuse my ignorance but why is this card in any way shape or form special? Outside of being rare that is. Does it do something really cool I am missing. Macs are not my forte so the question may seem stupid but I'd really like to know! TIA!
                    Current Wish List: 1. IBM 7531 Industrial Series PC 2. NEC MultiSync XL (JC-2001) Monitor 3. MicroSolutions UniDOS card 4. Compaq 14" VGA CRT Monitor (the one that came with the SystemPro). 5. Stacker HW CoProcessor Board MCA BUS. If you have any of the above for sale please PM me. Thank you!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      It's a LISP machine on a card, from back when LISP machines were going to be the Next Big Thing.
                      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

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by commodorejohn View Post
                        It's a LISP machine on a card, from back when LISP machines were going to be the Next Big Thing.
                        Ohhh. Now I get it.... I am hitting up Wiki on LISP right now.....

                        And I am back! NOW I get it...

                        Ok I do get some of it. LISP good for solving equations and AI programming. Cool. I am always fascinated by (and collect) these kinds of "computer on a card in a computer" cards (not to the tune of $4K though....). Things like the AE PC Transporter, Apple IIe card, the Trackstar, or the Baby Blue to name a few are just very cool to me. So are there "smartish" AI programs that this card allows your mac to run? Or any LISP programs of note? Or is it more for development?
                        Last edited by Shadow Lord; December 18, 2014, 02:29 PM.
                        Current Wish List: 1. IBM 7531 Industrial Series PC 2. NEC MultiSync XL (JC-2001) Monitor 3. MicroSolutions UniDOS card 4. Compaq 14" VGA CRT Monitor (the one that came with the SystemPro). 5. Stacker HW CoProcessor Board MCA BUS. If you have any of the above for sale please PM me. Thank you!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I'm sure there's people here who can tell you a lot more about Lisp - I've never really dabbled with it myself. That said, I do recall hearing that a few influential versions of Emacs were written in Lisp, and even the modern C versions implement Lisp as an extension language.

                          I mostly find it interesting because of the architecture - with everything either RISC or CISC that's increasingly trying to look like RISC these days, it's kind of amazing to look at something like this or the HP PRISM machines and see some of the truly different ideas that used to be in CPU design.
                          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

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Yes, Emacs extensions are written in Lisp. Emacs Lisp, specifically.

                            In the context of RISC vs. CISC Lisp is quite interesting because a Lisp machine really would fit into the concept of a RISC. It is a very narrow and focused language that has very few operations (in addition to being extensible which is why it was used for Emacs to begin with) yet is quite powerful. It is still found in expert systems today though I'm pretty sure that no one really thinks of it as a viable possibility for AI anymore. It's good for simulating AI but, like everything else so far, lacks that extra "spark" that would be necessary to head for consciousness.

                            Originally posted by commodorejohn View Post
                            I'm sure there's people here who can tell you a lot more about Lisp - I've never really dabbled with it myself. That said, I do recall hearing that a few influential versions of Emacs were written in Lisp, and even the modern C versions implement Lisp as an extension language.

                            I mostly find it interesting because of the architecture - with everything either RISC or CISC that's increasingly trying to look like RISC these days, it's kind of amazing to look at something like this or the HP PRISM machines and see some of the truly different ideas that used to be in CPU design.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Not sure if you have seen this but bitsavers have some documentation on the Microexplorer:

                              http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/p...microexplorer/

                              I did a little bit of browsing and the 3rd PDF from the top (2555022-0001D_6.1uExpSW.pdf) seems to be software installation instructions. Not sure if it applies to your version of SW but I hope it helps out!

                              EDIT: The 4th PDF has something about installation too... It sure looks complicated...
                              Last edited by 3pcedev; December 18, 2014, 01:50 PM.
                              System 80 Expansion Interface located! Thanks to all who helped out and the good people in the NZ vintage computer forums!

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