Forum Rules and Etiquette

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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.

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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
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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.
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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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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.
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Hard Drive Interface Identification

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    Hard Drive Interface Identification

    I have an older 286 I've been restoring and decided not to fool around with trying to find and keep running, an MFM drive. I have an interface card that has both FD and HD interfaces, but I can't, even from the manual, determine what kind of interface it has for the HD. All I know is it is 40 pin and the manual says not to use and ST412/506 drive and only use an "AT bus" hard disk. I thought it would be and IDE, but why wouldn't they call it that. Also, the pinout in the manual doesn't match IDE. So my question is, was there another drive interface before IDE that used a single 40 pin cable?
    Attached Files

    The early days didn’t have nice consistent names for IDE drive.

    I had an acer 386 that called it an “embedded” drive in the manual.

    ide, ata, at bus they are all the same thing. Some early BIOS might not have a table that matches a modern drive, so if your 286 is in that category it might take some trial and error to get things working.


      I have an older IDE drive sitting around. I know the drive parameters and it is only 212MB. The 286 came with a dual floppy MFM HD controller, so I don't think the machine knows, and I hope doesn't care. However, if the adapter doesn't mention having a BIOS for HDs, just the interface, I wonder how I'm supposed to enter them.

      Well, after Thanksgiving I will toss it all together and see what happens.


        Should be able to set it up in the “cmos” setup, either something built in, or with a setup floppy spending on how fancy it is. AT style controller, whether mfm or ide usually have all of the setup stuff in the main bios, not one of the controller.

        My IBM 5170 has an IDE/floppy card in it at the moment and I just set it up with the normal IBM diagnostic floppy. The drive table is so limited that I lose a lot of space, but it work. Eventually I’ll probably go back to an MFM drive because I’ve got a few kicking around.


          This board has Phonix BIOS and it uses ATSETUP. I tried the one some use that was meant for the AT, but it didn't control the turbo function on the board and it ran at the slower speed even when I tried the key combination for turbo. So we shall see if the setup program I have will do the same.


            I thought it would be and IDE, but why wouldn't they call it that
            Because IDE was a name made up mainly by the press at that time. It was always called "ATA" (AT-Attachment) officially.


              And later called PATA, Parallel-ATA, because we got SATA, Serial-ATA.
              With kind regards / met vriendelijke groet, Ruud Baltissen



                I never heard of ATA until ATAPI (ATA Peripheral Interface) CD-ROM drives came along. Even then, most people just kept calling it IDE, and later EIDE (Enhanced IDE).


                  According to [here]:

                  The first version of what is now called the ATA/ATAPI interface was developed by Western Digital under the name Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE). Together with Control Data Corporation (the hard drive manufacturer) and Compaq Computer (the initial customer), they developed the connector, the signaling protocols and so on, with the goal of remaining software compatible with the existing ST-506 hard drive interface.[14] The first such drives appeared internally in Compaq PCs in 1986.


                    I believe that my old 5.25" CDC Wren manual uses the term "ATA" and not "IDE". I think that "IDE" was a Conner-ism originally.
                    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                      Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                      I think that "IDE" was a Conner-ism originally.
                      Based on what I see at [here], in 1985, Western Digital were using 'IDE' as a concept name, i.e. in 1985, there was a Western Digital document named 'Western Digital IDE Business Plan'.


                        I was just speaking from personal experience with real drives. I do recall that initially, it was a bit of a mess. Some early Maxtor ATA drives had the word order wrong in words 57 and 58 of the IDENTIFY response. When I was writing for ATA, I had to make a sanity check on those words and swap them if they didn't make sense.

                        Then you had drives from different manufacturers that couldn't function together as master and slave on the same cable.

                        So we now have a serial standard (SATA) that's based on a parallel interface spec designed for an obsolete bus. Makes one's head spin, it does.

                        SCSI in its many physical embodiments seems like the sane interface here.
                        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                          Originally posted by jafir View Post
                          The early days didn’t have nice consistent names for IDE drive.
                          I had an acer 386 that called it an “embedded” drive in the manual.
                          Another example is in the WDXT-140/WDXT-150 guide at [here], where "intelligent drive" is used.