80-Bus News


April–June 1982 · Volume 1 · Issue 2

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Random Rumours (& Truths)

by S. Monger

Promises, promises, but where are the goods? Why do we keep hearing about all these wonderful new products only to find that they are not yet available (designed)? Last issue I mentioned the Nascom AVC, the Gemini (nee Quantum) I/O board and the Gemini RTC. All ‘imminent’. As I write now the Gemini I/O board is available in limited quantities and the NM AVC and GM RTC are ‘nearly’ available. Please don’t taunt us so much! (By the way, I was right (of course) about the AVC being 10″x8″, and the reason for conflicting reports on whether there is text handling or not is because (1) it CAN handle text but (2) this text must be created under SOFT­WARE control.)

Since I last wrote several items have appeared, some pre-announced and others surprises. Firstly Nascom have released ‘MicroEd’. This is not a compact word processing package as the name implies, but is a Nascom 2 in a smaller box than Nascom 3, without the expansion frame and fitted with 8K of static RAM. This machine is intended as a competitor in the education market. How it competes against the newer, more compact, cheaper, more powerful (stand-alone) machines aimed at that market we will have to see. Looking at Nascom 3, shouldn’t this be called Nascom 4??

From IO Research (formerly IO Systems) we can now obtain ‘Pluto’. This board brings more RAM and power to your system than you dare imagine! 192K of dynamic RAM and a 16 bit (internal) 8088 processor. ‘Pluto’ works in much the same way as the Gemini GM812 IVC – you check a status port, send commands to a data port, then let the card get on with all the work. Quite a neat card, but at £399 (+ VAT) I’ll wait for ERNIE to buy it for me. (And wait, and wait, and wait ....)

Then there is Gemini’s GM813 combined Z80A CPU – I/O – 64K RAM board, all on an 8″x8″ card. It has taken a while to actually materialise, but it is definitely now available. Richard Beal has been at work again and has produced RP/M v2.0 for the card. This apparently tidies up one or two ‘features’ of RP/M V0.1 whilst retaining full upwards compatibility, and adding a parallel printer driver and enhanced editing amonst other things. This board provides a lot for the money (£225 b&t + VAT) as far as 80-BUS/​Nasbus cards go, but as you are reading this then presumably you already have an N1, N2, or GM811 and don’t want another master CPU board (do you?). I don’t, anyway! (Sounding a bit mean, aren’t I?) [Ed. – No comment.]

On the software front Nascom have announced the ‘real’ availability of Pascal, and Gemini have announced impending availability of it too (COMPAS). As it happens both versions are written by the same guy! The first is BLS Pascal with the name changed to Nascom Pascal (and one or two mods.) and it runs under Nas-Sys. Gemini’s version is somewhat more powerful, larger, (and more costly!) and runs under CP/M. As 80-BUS News seems to get its fair share of articles about Pascal I am sure that we will be hearing more of both of these, and also the independant supplier’s new one, Hisoft Pascal 4. Imported from the same company (Polydata) by Gemini is also Polytext. No it isn’t a wall filler, but a text editor that runs under Polydos. Rather nice too, with some features that Naspen/​Diskpen/​Gempen are all definitely lacking.

Talking of software, there is currently a Lucas/​Nascom applications note (AN006) doing its round of the dealers and it contains generalised Centronics driver routines for use with the Nascom. Looks VERY similar to the now superceeded routines incorporated in the original SYS program written nearly two years ago for the Henelec driven Gemini G805 disk system. Fair enough ?
............ By the way, it seems to have grown a ‘(c) Lucas Logic’ !!

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