The DH Bit
by D.R. Hunt
Christmas has come and gone, copy date was last week and Paul hasn’t phoned,
“Has he forgotten me I wonder?”, If it hadn’t been for the Mrs. banning all use of
the computer as an antisocial activity whilst guests are around, then perhaps I’d
have been on time. (I didn’t really want to talk to the mother-in-law anyway.) Still,
no use bemoaning my fate or the fact that my computer withdrawal symptoms have
reached such a state that I keep bashing the wrong keys and the words end up spelled
all wrong. Are these symptoms of not touching a computer for a week or too much
booze? Must be withdrawal symptoms, I haven’t had that much liquid refreshment.
This explains why my bit isn’t likely to run to more than a page or two this time.
Anyway, enough of my troubles, have you had a good Christmas?
Now about this time last year I was muttering in print that my favourite computer
company (Gemini) was nowhere near producing the sort of computer, which at the
time, I needed to get to know and understand. Well it was rumoured sometime ago
that they were to capitulate and join the IBM clone camp and at COMPEC there
it was. A fast, full spec. IBM AT clone. It’s made of bought in components, but the
motherboard is, surprisingly, not of far eastern origin, but British made. It’s the BAe
board, which to date has had something of a motley history and had recently
emerged in the Spectrum branded range of computers as well as Gemini, but for
some reason seems to have already disappeared from Spectrum’s range. I haven’t
had a good look at it yet, a passing poke at it at COMPEC that’s all, but it seemed
well behaved and was running one of Io Research’s High Res colour cards instead
of the more usual EGA card.
It’s fast, it runs at 12MHz and is selectable to lower speeds. The slower speed
selection is important; when I got my 10MHz clone this time last year, the first thing
I had to do was fit a ‘Go Slower’ switch, as it refused to load up some of the more
time sensitive protected software I was using. Over the past year, the trend to remove
protection from large and expensive lumps of software has continued, mainly at the
insistence of large corporate users who get upset about the inability to tape-backup
protected software, but there’s still enough protected stuff around to cause
problems, if you’re fortunate enough to have a fast computer and unfortunate
enough to need to run protected software. I’d better clarify that, the software runs
Ok at high speed once loaded, it’s just that the loading process comes unstuck.
Mind you, all this hype about increasing the crunching speed isn’t everything. I
recently heard of a 20MHz 80286 AT clone (at about half the cost of the Gemini)