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.
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  • 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:
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  • "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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Powertran Cortex

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    How did that smily get in my post? It was supposed to be V9938. Like I said, I'm new...


      @tms9995: I was just looking around the net to see what one of those looked like. The site has a little information but state that "We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system, please send us pictures or anything you might find useful." It sounds like you have something to add.
      WANTED: Cardinal 2450MNP modem.


        Thanks. I went over there and posted something in the 'comments' section. Hopefully that could stir something up? Hard to know what to send them - maybe the emulator...


          Wow! Lots of nice additional bits of information there TMS9995! I just got a few of the TMS9909 and TMS9911 chips in from about the only place on Earth that seems to have stocks of them--Hong Kong/China. I got half a dozen of each of them just in case. . .but in all your posts I see two very important things (three, counting the fact that you have TWO Cortices): you have a lot of documentation that likely exists nowhere else, and you have a lot of the software to go with it. Please put those things up online somewhere.

          I can also answer your TI-99/8 question. I am probably the only person in the world who has both a Cortex and a 99/8. I spent a several of years (and about 2K) tracking down all of the documentation for the 99/8 and then promptly photocopied it and put it up on the WHTech FTP site. I was told for years that most of the documentation I found no longer existed. I talked to the original engineers and dug up all but one item--the internal logic diagrams for the AMIGO chip. I have the complete operational description for it though, along with the pin-out, so I may just try and reconstruct it in VHDL one of these days. The Cortex and the 99/8 are VERY different. To see just how much so, you can look at all of the data I posted on WHTech:

          As a side note, work on the 99/8 began at about the same time ETI would have been preparing their first article for inclusion in the magazine. They were still testing two different versions of their motherboards in August/September 1983 to see which one was operationally better (two different expansion bus connectors/pinouts and some other component differences, most minor). The complete source code for the 99/8 system is on WHTech as well. I helped a friend (Dee Turner) rescue that from a dead hard disk about 20 years ago. It started my quest for 99/8 information.

          Thank you for posting--I now know of a total of six Cortices that survive, though I have no contact with the owner of one of them. I also have some other questions: do you know which issues of ETI had Cortex articles in them after the Nov/Dec 1982 and Jan 1983 issues? I saw evidence that there were occasional additional articles in ETI up through at least 1987. I have the issues from Nov 1982 through Sep 1984 on their way to me via slow boat as of yesterday, so I will be able to make scans of some of that documentation from an original shortly. Do you have any means (and/or time) to bulk scan the documentation you have to easily put it up online?

          Nige, I'm almost finished converting the Cortex BASIC manual JPGs I received from Germany to a fully-editable file (I'm starting the 22 pages of the appendices now, and then it will be done). I'll create a directory on WHTech for the Cortex and put it up there as both a PDF and a Word document, probably in about a week. Your wait is almost over, and much shorter than originally expected A work trip helped a lot, as I got to work in my hotel room uninterrupted during the evenings. . .
          Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!


            Congrats on obtaining the FDC & DMA chips. They were both expensive and hard to come by in the 80's! The disk interface was designed to accommodate just about every drive and density combination available at the time and could be a little bothersome to get 'just right'. Although it catered for 8" drives, we all had some combination of 5.25 in 40T/80T Single/Double Sided/Density. When you finally achieved ownership of a pair of 80T/DS/DD drives (640K formatted capacity each) you felt like you'd won the lottery! Single Density was pretty reliable but the PLL for DD was a little sensitive to temperature etc. and could use a little tweaking from time to time. However, mine still works the last time I tried it!

            We have a scanner with a sheet-feeder on it and I quickly tried a 36 page manual this morning and it scanned to a pdf in about 5 mins so looks like the A4/letter sized stuff should be easy.

            I don't like reinventing the wheel, so is there a free site I can put this stuff on? I had a look at the whtech ftp site and there is loads of stuff on there but not sure how to add to it. If someone can point me to an account that's secure/safe/free, I'll upload some stuff.

            As for the ETI articles, I think some of that stuff in still in the UK. I have a copy of something called Electronics Digest and it was basically an ETI Special that has the original 3 part series for the Cortex and some other select projects. I also have most of the User Group News Letters that contain loads of mods, tips, tricks etc. I'll scan the lot given enough time. The big one will be the firmware. I was lucky enough to be given the entire source code for the Eproms in a TI ring binder! It must be 4" thick of individual pages...


              If you want, I can host the manual on my vintage computing archive.


                By all means pop a copy on the above site, but Bitsavers is THE place. The more places the merrier, and there are sick looneys out there who like hacking/wrecking archives.
                It's quite a bit of work doing the scanning etc, I was trying to get a sheet feeding scanner sorted, but they seem to go at a premium on ebay. I have heaved a sigh of relief that the 3-foot-thick pile of dec & cdc manuals I have are already in the public domain.
                Thanks to the comments so far I feel confident enough to check out the psu and then hit the on switch without fitting the memory mapper. however as usual, my weekend evaporated!
                "Don't it always seem to go
                That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone" (BANG )


                  Both sites sound good. Bitsavers seems more appropriate, but looking at their general requirements, it seems they cater for true mini/mainframe computers rather than a home micro with a 'mini' cpu. Thoughts before I jump through the hoops of bothering them?

                  The whtech site Ksarul talks about looks good too since there is a lot of TI stuff on there, but still waiting to see if it's possible to use that site. Ksarul?

                  In any case, first I have to build up my collection of pdf's and binaries, but need to be sure I have a good place to share it before I put the effort in!

                  Nige: With regards to the sheet feeder/scanner, all we have is a Brother MFC-490CW scanner/fax/printer and it cost about $99, which isn't a lot...


                    I've got an upload account on WHTech, so if you get the data to me, I can put it up there for you. Alternatively, you can ask the owner for one of your own--he usually grants them immediately to people he's seen in the community before, though he might ask you a few more questions since you're new to him.
                    Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!


                      Thanks Ksarul, I'll just send you the stuff. I brand new to this so wouldn't want to insult someone for an account when they don't know me from Adam! Once I get some scans etc., I'll let you know and we'll take it from there. I'll upload to others when I get it all together.


                        Here's a link to the CORTEX POWER BASIC Manual. I uploaded it today and created a Cortex folder for future submissions.


                        Many thanks for taking the time to scan the documentation you have TMS9995!
                        Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!


                          Wow - awesome job with the Cortex Power Basic manual. I haven't looked at that for years (mine's still in the UK) and certainly brings back some memories! I will make an effort to get the emulator tidied up and posted (not that much to do) as you can apply this manual right away!

                          Just found out my cheap scanner slows down considerably after you shove more that about 25 pages through it. I guess it has to cool down...


                            Many thanks--I ran it through an OCR program and then edited it to make sure no errors crept into the resulting document. . .
                            Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!



                              Many many thanks Ksarul, the dialect looks a little strange. I probably would run into a few unfathomable walls in the first few lines without it.
                              "Don't it always seem to go
                              That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone" (BANG )


                                Hi there

                                Hi everyone, I was a pleasantly surprise to find this forum with such recent activity about the Cortex.

                                I was one of the developers of the Cortex along with Jim Gill, Neil Quarmby, Colin Hinson and Ian White so I can fill you in on a lot of the history behind the Cortex and info on both the hardware and the software.

                                I still have 2 of the machines up in the loft somewhere although they haven't been powered up for a few years.