80-Bus News


September–October 1983, Volume 2, Issue 5

Page 45 of 67

Utility Programs

Gemini also supply a number of other utility programs (over and above those normally supplied with CP/M). FORMAT.COM is a disk formatting program, allowing the user to format his own disks for use in the Galaxy. Format programs are a vital necessity, and it surprises me that some manufacturers can actually supply machines without a format program and then cash in selling ‘own brand’ formatted disks at exhorbitant prices. The format program takes about two minutes to run in all and carries out a thorough check of the disk validity. Any disk errors are reported, it being up to the user to reject the disk or try reformatting it. As far as disk tolerance is concerned, the Galaxy seemed to be happy with the most decrepit of disks. Even well worn disks originally supplied as single density were found to format, verify and run correctly without error.

Among the other utilities is a disk backup program. With disks of 400K capacity, backing up a disk using the CP/M PIP program can be a tedious business. The backup program accomplishes the feat in about 110 seconds (less for a disk containing less data), having fully verified the copy.

As mentioned previously, a utility is supplied to save the user defined function keys, further utilities are provided for cassette tape read and write.


The documentation for the Galaxy itself comes bound in an A4 folder along with a CP/M manual and a number of other documents such as the CP/M license, circuit diagrams, the software manual for the video card, guarantees, etc. The Guide to the Galaxy (with apologies to Richard Adams) is an explanation of the machine and how to use it, written in a refreshing and friendly style, keeping explanations simple and straight forward. The Galaxy manual does not set out to teach the user how to ‘drive’ CP/M, but lists the specific features of the machine and departures from the normal CP/M machine, such as the screen editing and the utility programs which are all covered in detail. The blow by blow account of how to use CP/M, is left to the CP/M guide. This approach is more than adequate for the user interested in running typical applications software but falls somewhat short of the documentation required to gain an in depth understanding of the machine. Gemini overcome this shortcoming by supplying all the additional documentation for the individual cards and software at very modest prices through their dealer network. The user intending to use the Galaxy as a development tool need not be worried by the lack of heavy technical documentation as the optional card and software manuals are all easily available and most comprehensive.


By using an internal bus structure conforming to the popular 80BUS/​Nasbus standard, and by providing three additional card slots within the machine, Gemini have allowed for considerable expansion. Gemini’s own range of expansion is quite large and includes 5.4 Mbyte and 10.8 Mbyte hard disks. But the overall range is quite impressive, coming from E V Computing, Microcode, Climax Computers, Nascom and IO Research amongst others. The exceptionally high resolution Pluto colour card sub-system by IO Research is one such, whilst colour graphics at a more modest price (and resolution) is provided by the Climax colour card. Real time clocks are provided by both Gemini (two versions) and from E V, whose clock makes ingenious use of the Z80 on the video card, displaying real time in the top corner of the screen. A collection

Page 45 of 67