Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
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IMSAI - the Fix Pt4 : Finally (for me too) a success story

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    IMSAI - the Fix Pt4 : Finally (for me too) a success story

    I’ve now had my IMSAI up and running for over a week.
    I had also previously tried a few different hardware configs, including trying to set up up the system as a Processor Tech Subsystem B minus the GPM board...FAIL!!!

    Previously, if you recall after some struggles, I had basically got the hardware running, but I only had one working CP/M 1.4 disk, and I was struggling to make a copy with the Shugart 8" drives that came with the system.
    I spent a long time typing in code from the Versafloppy 1 manual, and was trying to use the DIAGNOSIS and CBIOS program listed to format the disk, but I could not get it to work. When trying to format the disk, the head would drop, but nothing more would happen.

    Enter the SOL-20.
    I decided to put my SOL-20 with Morrow DJ floppy controller to work and 8" NEC drives.
    I was able to run the #FORMT.COM program to format a blank floppy at 128 bytes.sector setting. Then I was able to use DJCOPY.COM to copy track 0 and 1 from my working IMSAI CP/M boot floppy to the newly formatted disk. Initially I had trouble which I believe was fixed by cleaning the NEC drive heads (I had been using a lot of old disks recently that probably soiled the heads). After the clean I was able to make a good copy of the boot disk, and I was able to confirm that it booted perfectly on the IMSAI. Thanks SOL-20!

    As an added bonus I was also able to copy a CP/M 2.2 disk. I had previously assumed that this didn’t work, but after a few attempts at copying I was able to get a good read and a good backup.

    So now I have both CP/M 1.4 and 2.2 working!

    Although it didn’t take years like smp’s fix, it did take about 4 months of solid work.

    The entire fix is:

    1) A complete clean

    2) Fix a dead Line Delay, by building an adaptor for a modern part.

    3) Replaced the MIO with a 3P+S card set up to mimic a 2SIO card. I was having issues with the MIO talking to my Mac via a USB/Serial adaptor. It did work flawlessly with my old PC laptop though.

    4) Replaced the 8k RAM card with a PSS 16k card and rejigged the memory map.

    5) Finally for this weekend I’m going to reburn all my EPROMs and put them at memory addresses that are more appropriate for my setup.

    So, overall, the fix was relatively simple, but getting there was a steep learning curve, and at time a little panicked when I realised I only had one working boot disk.

    Much much much thanks for everyone for their support, help, advice and words of encouragement.

    Last edited by Nama; May 28, 2015, 08:39 PM.
    retro computing at: dead

    Here she is...
    The original white ceramic 8080 is safe in a box. I didn't want to accidentally kill an original CPU while I was getting the hardware working, so I replaced it with this later model plastic version sourced from eBay.

    The screen capture from my terminal emulator (Coolterm) on my Mac shows me toggling different jump addresses in ROM:

    - The monitor from Erik Klein at F800h. It's a nice little monitor that can transfer in intel hex.
    - Then to MON-88 at FC00h, which I believe is a modified version of the original Altair turnkey monitor. You can see the '#' prompt. Does everything in octal.
    - CP/M boot from address F000h. Doing a directory listing shows various programs I've been able to salvage from the crusty original floppies, and some, like PIP, ASM, and DDT, I installed recently.

    Nama IMSAI.jpgNama IMSAI capature.jpg
    Last edited by Nama; May 29, 2015, 02:19 AM.
    retro computing at: dead


      Congratulations, Phil! I know the thrill of *finally* getting my machine into a good, solid, stable state.

      I know my journey spanned "years," but it was not so dramatic as it sounds. It was a few intense sessions spread over that time, and quite a few other adventures with other machines in the meantime. I'm certain that you know what I mean.

      I'm behind you a little bit, as I have not yet had success with CP/M, but I'm still going for it.

      Last edited by smp; May 29, 2015, 02:54 AM. Reason: Added the comment about my journey...


        Heartening to see all of these success stories here. I will be posting my own progress report here in the near future. I'm at the beginning of journey, just now to the point of getting keyed-in programs and serial I/O working, but I've already (re)learned more about computer architecture as part of this exercise than anything I've done since my CS courses back in college.