Random Rumours (and Truths?)
by S. Monger
Lot’s to report this time. For example, IO Research...Pluto 2 is here!!
Yes, fed up with reading in this column about how little they do, IO Research
have produced a super-duper new Pluto. There is the inevitable catch, the
unreal price, but let’s forget that while I lay down the mouth-watering fax:
“Pluto II is a brand new powerful single board graphics display system
which has been designed to be completely hardware and software compatible with
the original Pluto board. [Pluto I + £50.] Re-designed to use up-to-date
technology [add £200] the board replaces 3 boards from the original Pluto
range [add £1000] with one compact unit giving high reliability [+£150] and
ease of use [+£80]. Based upon the highly successful Pluto concept [+£25],
Pluto II’s more advanced [+£50] video circuitry produces truly advanced colour
graphics [+£100]. The board format is a compact 12″ by 8″ [-£500], multi-layer,
80-BUS compatible [+£300]. The processor is an 8MHz 8088 [+£0]. Half a
megabyte of memory as standard [+£50] etc, etc, etc.”
Anyway, the press release goes on to say that Pluto II is basically Pluto
I plus Pluto Pallette (256 colours from 16.7 million), hardware pan and zoom,
fast text scrolling and smooth shading (what’s that?), and optional 50Hz frame
grabber. The final figure?? Well over £2000 (two thousand pounds). Oh well, I
didn’t really want one anyway as I can’t fit a 12″x8″ board in my system!
Whilst on the graphics topic it may be worth mentioning that Gemini have
implemented GSX on Pluto. (Why not on their own GM837 board???) GSX is
supposed to do for graphics what CP/M did for disk drives. When I’ve found
out what that means I’ll let you know.
And what else has appeared? Yes, Gemini have been reading my bit as
well as IO, as they have at last released the almost forgotten about GM848
Multi-Serial Board. This board has two Z80 SI0s, each providing 2 serial
channels, and each direction of each channel of each device (phew) can be set
to a different baud rate (must be some use). There is also a PIO thrown on the
board for good measure, and the board occupies a switch-selectable block of 16
I/O ports. The SI0s of course cater with both synchronous and asynchronous
protocols. Now where did I leave that mainframe? The price? £125 + VAT to you.
Big ‘G’ are also shipping their new whizzo EPROM basher with some success,
although I’m not quite sure where I’d put the 27256 that I could then program.
(No, that is not a request for suggestions, thank you all the same.)
In my last bit (80-BUS Vol 3, Iss 1) I didn’t have the price of the
GM888, 8Mhz 8088, 8″x8″, 8oz. board. that is now being delivered. £888? No,
£190 actually, and CP/M-86? £175. (All plus VAT.) The CP/M-86 is currently for
Gemini based systems only – will a Nascom version follow?
EV Computing have ‘re-vamped’ their EV814 IEEE 488 board. I’m uncertain
as to what ‘re-vamped’ means, but it gives them reason to also ‘re-vamp’ (i.e.
raise) the price to, I think, £195 + VAT.
Lucas are apparently (and totally contrary to popular belief) still
alive. It seems that from time to time the odd (very odd) Nascom 2 or 3
manages to escape from Warwick. But where oh where are there any new
products? Or how about some advertising to show that they still exist??
And finally back to Gemini, the only great white hope where other
manufacturers seem to have become stale in their lack of new products. Is the
fact that they are a signed-up ‘EasyLink’ (some sort of computer telephone/telex/electronic mail system) customer an indicator that we may see an
approved modem from them soon? Or is that a forelorn hope? And do the GM853
and GM863 boards described in their ‘New Products’ data sheet exist as much
as/the same as/more than (delete as appropriate) the GM848 did a year ago?