hand if need be. The program fulfilled its main
purpose, and the backup disks are made using the
separate BACKUP program which had been used
Nascom — Where now?
Fairly regularly people walk in the shop and say,
“I’ve got an old Nascom 2 and don’t know whether
to get rid of it or spend some loot and upgrade it.”.
Well two things are apparent, firstly there are a lot
of Nascom 2’s still around (there should be, as
nearly 10,000 were made before Lucas got there
paws on the show), and secondly a lot of people
are still dedicated to the machine which in all
probability they sweated blood over building some
three or four years back.
The problem is doing anything with a Nascom
works out expensive. Possibly the cheapest way
out is to flog the Nascom to some unsuspecting
mug and then go and buy a Beeb, a Spectrum, a
Commodore or some other such Mickey Mouse
computer. But then none of these has the potential
of an expanded Nascom, despite the plethora of
add-on bits you can get for them.
All the following comments apply equally to the
Nascom 1, but remember that for optimum results
the N1 should be capable of running at 4MHz
(although the disk systems will run as slow as
2MHz with no wait states) and the N1 should have
a decent buffer board. The original Nascom buffer
board wasn’t too clever! The Gemini
combined backplane-cum-buffer board is fine.
(This IS still available, so don’t believe any dealer
who says he can’t get it for you anymore.)
The only viable upgrade of a Nascom is towards
disks, a goodly few have already taken that course,
and I think those who have gone that way are
happy. Expensive certainly, but still worth the
money as the end result still costs less than going
out and buying an equivalent machine from new.
However, even this route is becoming more
circumscribed as Lucas seem to contract their
Nascom operation and Gemini have reduced the
number of options available. MAP are still around
and in there somewhere, but I haven’t heard from
them for some time.
All permutations would need at least 48K of RAM
and all would require disk drives. The drives would
be either single or double sided 80 track drives. The
drive boxes available from the various 80-BUS
manufacturers are all comparitively expensive, and
cheaper equivalents can be found advertised as
options for the Beeb computer. But watch the
specs. Check that what you are buying does or
does not include power supplies (as required) and
that 40/80 track types are really 80 track types and
not some ‘cod’ used by the various DOSes for the
The basic choices left are:
- Nascom NASDOS with the Nascom
controller card, with or without the
- Nascom CP/M with the Nascom disk
controller and AVC cards.
- Gemini CP/M with the Gemini disk
- MAP CP/M with the MAP VFC disk
- Careful permutations of 3 and 4.
Choice 1) Uses the original Nascom screen display
and needs the Nascom disk controller card. It may
well not be the best choice, for although NASDOS
allows the use of your original Nascom software,
little if any new software has been made available.
Choice 2) Uses the original Nascom screen display
and needs the Nascom disk controller card. Not a
bad choice, CP/M 2.2 seems to be the route to take.
The Nascom CP/M uses the Nascom AVC as either
a colour display or as an 80 column display (very
necessary for CP/M). The Nascom AVC is a bit slow
in the 80 column mode.
The problem with either choices 1) or 2) is likely to
be support. Most of Nascoms’ old faithful dealers
now no longer stock Nascom products and Lucas
do not seem to be encouraging new dealers. The
only dealer (as far as I am aware) able to offer full
support for Nascom products these days is B & L
Micros at Kenilworth. So unless you live in the
Midlands, the Nascom options might not be
Choice 3) Uses the Gemini
card or the (now obsolete)
the most universal choice. There were more
Nascom/Gemini hybrids in the recent 80BUS
survey than anything else except straight Gemini
systems. Gemini have recently reduced the permutations
of CP/M 2.2 for Nascom, so the only
version currently available uses single or double
sided 80 track drives and must use either the
Gemini SVC or the (now obsolete)
makes it the most expensive choice, but it wins on
both overall operating speed and disk capacity.
You could save money by using secondhand
cards as these still seem to be
around in small quantities from people who have
upgraded to GM829 and
Choice 4) Uses the MAP VFC combined video and
disk controller card. Available with either CP/M 2.2
or CP/M 3. (None of the other manufacturers have
opted for CP/M 3 as there is little to show for the
increased cost.) About the same price as the
straight Gemini choice using secondhand cards.
Choice 5) Careful permutations of Gemini and MAP
cards with a suitable choice of CP/M (Gemini or
MAP, depending upon the exact permutation) will
work but there seems no advantage in opting fora