80-Bus News


November–December 1982 · Volume 1 · Issue 4

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Random Rumours (& Truths)

S. 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 N1, 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 ‘Nasbus’ 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 INMC80.

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 catalogue, 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!!

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