80-Bus News


July–August 1983 · Volume 2 · Issue 4

Page 20 of 55

SYS is dead – long live?

by D.R. Hunt


SYS came into being some two and a half years ago when the Henelec – Gemini G805 disk system came on the market. The G805 CP/M disk system was fitted with a spectacularly primitive BIOS, not so much by design, but all that could be got into a 1K EPROM. SYS got round this problem by quite an ingenious method which has been dealt with at length in past issues. Of course, the whole idea of SYS was to allow the competent machine code programmer access to the BIOS of the system without having to tear half of MOVCPM apart each time a minor change was contemplated.

Over a period of time, SYS grew, and additional features were added. At the tender age of about one year SYS was rewritten incorporating parts of Gemini’s 48 t.p.i. disk drivers to cater for the Gemini GM809 card. Some months later, virtual disk operation was added using Gemini or Nascom cards. At the beginning of 1983 new features were added to SYS to make it Gemini Galaxy compatible and further extensions to the virtual disk were added. Parts of Gemini’s 96 t.p.i./Winchester BIOS were incorporated for completeness. although, at Gemini’s request, issue of this version with SYSB6A was restricted. SYS however, without SYSB6A remained popular with many, as an ideal way of adding features to the existing Gemini and Nascom 48 t.p.i/​Pertec MultiBoard BIOSes.

And so SYS’s future looked bright for some time to come, however, it seems that some commercial organisation has allegedly used large chunks of SYS for their own purposes and incorporated it into their own BIOS for a competeing system instead of writing their own!! Now this is not only in contravention of the copyright on SYS as a whole, and the individual copyrights on the Pertec drivers and the Gemini 96 t.p.i. disk drivers, but is against the whole concept of ‘for own use only’ which is what SYS is about. Gemini aren’t amused, in fact it is nearer the truth to say that Gemini very much upset. Gemini have not yet withdrawn their permission to use their disk drivers in SYS, but I suspect that it won’t take them long to get round to it. So reluctantly it has been decided to withdraw SYS from sale. Also, as result of this alleged piracy, the source of Gemini’s BIOS is no longer distributed on their system disks F.O.C., but is available upon request for the nominal sum of £500.00.

So what is the result of this? Well one of the most flexible tools available to the machine code programmer for Nascom/​Gemini and Gemini multiboard machines has now ceased to exist, and if you happen to dislike the Gemini BIOS and want to do something about it, you are left with the difficult and tedious job of writing your own BIOS or coughing up a large fortune for the Gemini sources to modify.

All very negative, it is my opinion that having purchased a CP/M at what is after all a quite high price, you should be at least entitled to the source of the parts specific to your machine. But if people are going to lift that source for their own commercial gain, then what can a manufacturer do? I do not agree with Gemini’s policy of grossly overcharging for the source of their BIOS (although I can not think of a simple, safe, alternative), but it will certainly keep its circulation under control on the grounds that very few if any are going to buy it at that price, except that is, the enterprising pirate, to whom the investment of £500.00 is small beer compared with the possible return. But then if Gemini wish to pitch their prices such as to restrict the sale of their products only to the pirates ......

[Ed. – buying a copy of the listing doesn’t entitle anyone to reproduce and resell – the copyright is still retained by Gemini]

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