RANDOM RUMOURS (& TRUTHS) $. Monger
I understand that a copy of the latest ‘Gemini MultiBoard’ leaflet went
out with each of the last issues of 80-BUS, and that this has resulted in several
comments along the lines of ‘What has it to do with me, I’m a NASCOM
owner’......stunned silence.......well, I now wonder if we (at 80-BUS News)
should pack up and go home, or if we really have omitted stating the ‘obvious’
(to us) in this rag. Just in case, here comes an attempt at an explanation :
Once upon a time there was a company called Nascom, producing a micro
imaginatively entitled the ‘Nascom 1’ (N1). Now this micro took the UK market by
storm, and lots and lots of them were sold. Then Nascom (NM) decided to expand
the Ni, and defined the Nasbus system. A memory and an I/O board were produced to
fit this bus, and then the more powerful Nascom 2.
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, NM went into receivership. Under
receivership there was little advertising or production done, as a buyer was
sought. Consequently the market waned considerably, and a number of dealers
(including one owned by John Marshall (JM), the ex-MD of NM) got together to
continue advertising NM products and to promote various ‘Nasbus’ add-ons of their
own. Out of the success of this JM formed Gemini. Unfortunately, as this was
occurring, the receiver took a dim view of the dealers using the word ‘’Nasbue’
and started flinging writs around. So Gemini sat down, looked at the somewhat
ambiguous definition of Nasbus, redefined and cleared up certain points, and
renamed it as 80-BUS, a name chosen not only because of ‘Z80’ and the ‘80-way’
bus, but also because it is a more generalised name, appropriate for other
manufacturers to use as opposed to something like ‘Gem-bus’. The 80-BUS spec. was
subsequently published in INMC80, issue 4, the predecessor to this rag.
After a year in the receivers hands, NM was bought by Lucas Logic (Spring
’81). Then, in my opinion, they proceeded to do ‘not a lot’ and have never (to
date) acknowledged the existance of Gemini. Meanwhile Gemini had produced quite a
number of 80-BUS (i.e. Nasbus compatible) products, which sold in large numbers
to NM owners, and had also by now produced their own CPU and video cards. This
made the Gemini range complete within itself, as well as all expansion cards
remaining compatible with NM. With few products coming from NM, the INMC80
magazine found its subsription declining and little to write about and so it
moved towards supporting ‘the bus’ (80-BUS and Nasbus) as a whole, instead of
dedicating itself to the one manufacturer’s products. In January ‘82, 80-BUS News
was created, absorbing INMC8O.
So, having wandered slightly off track, I hope that it is now obvious to
all that Gemini 80-BUS expansion products shown in their catalogue, along with
those from EV Computing, Arfon, IQ Research and Microcode also shown in the
eatalogue, are in fact usable in expanding Nascom 1, 2 and 3 systems.
Well, having waffled on about that for so long I now have little room
left for my usual tripe. I was going to tell you that Mike York has now
implemented the UCSD system on the Nascom, and is currently doing it for the
Gemini. Not that I know anything about UCSD, other than the fact that it has the
usual flavour of nutty but avid followers, and that it is an alternative to the
CP/M operating system. I was also going to tell you that Mike Ayres (ex. Sales.
Manager of Tandy) now holds the same title with Lucas Logic (Nascom) – ex. sales
manager. Furthermore, I was going to mention that Gemini Winchester units
(mentioned last iss.) are now a reality (only for MultiBoard/ Micropolis & Galaxy
systems at the moment, although they will be producing alternative software –
write to them saying what system YOU want to add one to). I was also considering
mentioning the availability of a 256K RAM board from MAP Systems (and don’t
expect it to remain the only large RAM board), as well as the fact that Gemini
are about to release a new CP/M BIOS containing virtual disk support, screen dump
capability, and stand-alone terminal mode.
I might even have mentioned CP/M 3 – but there just isn’t room!!