Another thought has just struck! (Two in one day!) Anyone who knows how
to transfer programs between Nascom disk systems and Gemini disk systems using
tape will have spotted this. A program that works on one CP/M system ought to
have been written so that it will work on another CP/M system. So perhaps there
will be a figure eight amongst the circles. Anyway, disk users, please write to
me: tape users, if you want a similar system, let me know. The first tape user to
write gets to organise the fun on behalf of the others. If this idea can be made
to work, we’ll be light years ahead of the plastic box brigade (no, this is not a
reference to the Nascom 3, that is a nice box!) as usual.
Back to hardware! The Microvitec 14" monitor.
You need something like this if you are going to use a Pluto. The cost of
a monitor capable of displaying the full 640 dots across the screen is
phenomenal, and if you are not rich, you will just have to compromise a bit.
Microvitec do make a high resolution monitor that can cope, but I could not get
the necessary finance, so I bought their 14 inch RGB nearly as high resolution
monitor. This is the one you see on the BBC’s Computer Program, in a nice steel
case. The display quality is excellent, but is not quite enough for 80 columns of
text in colour. Please note that the text CAN be read easily enough, it is just a
fraction this side of perfect, not all furry the way it would be on the average
television, after going through a modulator and a tuner. The monitor is built in
Bradford, but the tube was made in a country where it is said that they can’t
write software like ours. (Come to that, thay make some rather Mickey Mouse
computers, as well.) Microvitec have recently won one of the awards to industry,
according to my Sunday paper, and deserve it. This unit is excellent value. It is
available from many dealers, and the price varies, so you should shop around. The
catch, and there has to be one, is that if you buy cheap, the dealer expects to
be able to get away with giving almost no after sales service. I got mine from a
firm called Microage, who are nothing to do with Microvitec, I hasten to add, and
when I wrote and asked them a question, they sent my letter back with the words
“Sorry can’t help” scrawled on the bottom of the page. Not good enough, Microage.
Anyway, when you write to ask Microvitec how to make adjustments, so that
as few as possible of your expensive pixels are off the edge of the screen, not
only do they send the required information, they also send a letter reminding you
just how dangerous it is to open the box. I would echo their warning – it is
extremely dangerous to open the set up and adjust the height and width of the
picture. The voltages used by colour tubes can do some very spectacular things to
you, from a distance, and the tube can hold a charge for a long time after it is
switched off. If you are only fairly sure you know what you are doing, leave it
alone! The height is easy to get at, but the width adjustment is under the tube.
You can buy a historic computer for a very reasonable price, as a reader
of this magazine. I would like to sell the original Marvin to an enthusiast
(you’ll need to be!) for a low type price. Nascom 1, buffer board, 32K RAM A
modified to run properly, and MNUG (Merseyside Nascom User’s Group) EPROM board
with Nascom BASIC, Bits & P.C.s toolkit and extension keyboard, complete with 3
amp PSU, and various bits of documentation for only £150. Nascom I.0. board with
one PIO and a CTC for a mere £50. Winchester Technology sound board (likely to
become exceedingly rare!) with amazing Doorbell chip, only £60, because it won’t
go at 4MHaz without wait states.
finished := TRUE