Another long awaited addition is the disk system. This consists of
three components. First, the disk controller card which is a Nascom 8" x 8"
bus card and uses the Western Digital WD1793. The card is a redesign of the
original Nascom card, this time with the write precompensation circuitry
implimented. Then there is the drive box, in a case matching the computer
case, and designed with the drives side by side with an integral power supply
to mount on top of the Nascom case. Lastly, there will be two operating
systems, CP/M 2.2 for business or development applications and NAS-DOS (which
if I’m not mistaken bares a remarkable resemblence to the B & L M DCS-DOS) for
the home user wishing to maintain full compatibility with his existing
software. The disk system is a double density system with a nominal capacity
of about 350K per drive. The drives used (not named at the Nascom meeting)
would appear to be TEAC TD50-C which are single sided 77 track drives and are
mechanically incompatible with the existing Henelec/Gemini 805 or the Gemini
G809/G815 disk systems, both of which have already gained wide acceptance with
Nascom owners. It would be possible for users of the Nascom disk system to
read one side of the disks from the competition but the necessary software to
do this would be bordering on the horrific and I doubt that anyone will try.
Another thing about the disk system is that the choice of drive and hence disk
format limits the amount of ‘off the shelf’ software available to the CP/M
user at the moment, as this particular format is at present little used.
Nascom did say at the meeting that they will be offering a copying service to
translate software from other systems to the Nascom format. I hope they have
thought out the implications of that, when you consider the number of
alternative disk formats already available, not to mention the infringement of
copyright and license agreements signed by the original purchasers regarding
the copying of the software by third parties. The disk controller card and
case with one drive is about 470.00, with two drives 685.00, the CP/M software
about 100.00 and NAS-DOS about 45.00.
Other items were announced for delivery late this year and early next.
There is a Pascal promised (but no price and specification) and there is an
extended Basic package intended as a ‘bolt on’ goodie to the existing Basic.
This I understand will contain many of the features of the ‘BBC Basic’ for the
forthcoming TV series. Mention was also made of domestic and business
applications software, but no details. Most tantalising is the announcement of
Nas-Sys 4 for some future date. No details, but it probably will contain
driving routines for the colour card (see below). As this monitor will be
inevitably larger than Nas-Sys 1 or 3, it prompts the question as to where
they are going to put the rest of it to maintain compatibility, as the end of
the existing Nas-Sysii are immediately followed by the video RAM and then the
monitor workspace, neither of which can be touched to maintain compatibility.
Perhaps it will be split, with jumps to the second half at, say, B000H. For
Spring delivery there will be a high resolution colour video card, with
facilities for some hairy graphics based on the Lucas Computer Aided Design
package I mentioned last time. Price about 160.00 depending upon options.
Cheap until you consider that a high resolution colour monitor will almost
certainly be required to get the full benefit from the card, and they range
from 300.00 to well over a 2,000.00. A colour TV could possibly (??) be used
if you added a modulator to the AVC, but there is usually only one of those
per household, and the wife watches that whilst you sit computing.
Here endeth the Nascom commercial.
Of almost equal importance was the announcement of the ‘Nascom Fayre’.
There was discussion as whether to spell ‘Fair’ ‘Fayre’ or not, I don’t
remember what was decided. Anyway, Nascom have decided to hold their own
exhibition at the Bingley Hall, Birmingham, at the beginning of February. An
ambitious project but looks most exciting. The idea is for the dealers to
bring along all their various widgets to display, Nascom will be there in