80-Bus News


January–March 1982 · Volume 1 · Issue 1

Page 48 of 55

Really ??

Random Rumours (& Truths)

By S. Monger

It would appear that Quantum Micros decided that they were so busy with their Quantum 2000 (a rather smart looking three (yes 3!!) drive system based on Gemini MultiBoard) that they have handed-over/​sold/​given (??) rights of their I/O card to Gemini. This card, given the Gemini magic number of GM816, will come built and tested with 3 Z80A PIOs, 1 CTC, and a battery backed Real Time Clock. (Seems that those blasted RTC things are about to appear everywhere, as Gemini are also about to produce a mini one that attaches to the Nascom/​Gemini PIO.) The rather neat thing about the Gemini (nee Quantum) I/O board is that, as all the I/O decoding and buffering has already been done, it contains an on-board 50 odd way bus, and holes to take ‘piggy-back’ sub-boards. This gives the potential of all sorts of natty I/O, the only snag being that you probably can only have one ‘piggy-back’ per I/O board. Gemini say availability of both the I/O and RTC boards will be late March/​early April.

All sorts of rumours are floating about re. the Nascom AVC (Advanced Video Controller) board. Production has been put back several times, and the latest ‘promise’ appears to be late April/​early May. One thing for sure is that it was not to be seen at a recent London show. The provisional (rumoured) spec. sounds pretty impressive, but the complexity of the board seems to have turned it into a 10″x8″ board. Now let’s see, if we take a Nascom 2 (12x8), an AVC (10x8), a RAM card (8x8), and an Arfon speech board (5x8), we can design a ‘Pyramid’ case!! The board is said to have 48K of RAM on board (16K per colour) which should give very pretty pictures (software allowing), but there seem to be conflicting reports as to whether it can handle text or not – hmmmm.

Any visitor to Gemini a couple of weeks ago may have recognised the faces of most (all?) of the ‘MicroValue’ dealers. (By the way ‘Micro’ means very little/​small doesn’t it.......) It seems that they were picking up their first production Gemini Galaxy 1 units, or was there some scheming going on? The Galaxy, by the way, is a collection of MultiBoard cards (CPU/​RAM/​IVC/​FDC), 2 Micropolis 400K drives, and a switch mode PSU in a metal case. The keyboard is in a separate unit. The whole thing looks as sturdy as a brick ****–*****, and comes complete with a fair range of software. Can a British company out-Osborne Osborne? At the price (1450 + Maggie’s bit) it seems to be priced only a little lower than the sum of the bits, but of course there are lots of nice looking connectors on the back (they generally cost quite a bit) and you don’t have to assemble the lot yourself. Going rather up-market for us hobby-types, though.

Nascom 3 also seems to have been sneaked out fairly quietly. Lot’s of rumours were floating around about that, but none of them appear to have been right. It is in fact a Nascom 2 in a box, although you do get the (obligatory) Graphics ROM and also Nas-Sys 3. The time was well overdue that a cased Nascom become available, (if you remember, ‘System 80’ would have arrived, had the receiver not…) and the case is also going to be available to those who want to construct their own N3s. (By the way, MultiBoard owners will be able to get hold of the Galaxy case.) Will Nascom 4 be Nascom 3 with an AVC??

Watch this space for further ill-informed rumours.

Page 48 of 55