The end of Radio Shack as we know it?

This is a US-centric post, so apologies to those in areas where this is irrelevant. Our beloved Radio Shack is closing stores, while going through the form of bankruptcy protection that would allow them to downsize and regroup. Alas, this may not be the case at all. Darren Grant, CEO of Tandy Corporation in the UK, had passed along some information about the fate of the US Radio Shacks which sheds more light on what is really happening.

The trademark to Radio Shack may be sold at auction:

http://guardianlv.com/2015/02/radioshack-trademark-goes-to-auction/

He also pointed me to this document that has details on how Sprint is trying to buy it:

https://cases.primeclerk.com/radioshack/Home-DownloadPDF?id1=NzY3NDc=&id2=0

If only we had a White Knight for Radio Shack in the US. Overseas, there had been Tandy stores (rather than Radio Shack, because that name was already taken). The Tandy stores shut down years ago, but in recent history, a new company has started up an online empire based on the classic brick-and-mortar legacy:

http://www.tandyonline.co.uk

Tandy UK today has many of the familiar Radio Shack brands from the past, like Archer. They have gone to original suppliers wherever possible to bring back items that were once lining the walls of Tandy stores over there. They even have items that were eliminated from the still-existing Radio Shacks in America. Plus, they have things like the Raspberry Pi 2 and Adafruit electronics kits.

I sure wish we could see something like this happen in the US.

If you have not visited the Tandy UK website, take a look. It’s what Radio Shack could have done over here.

ESP8266 $5 WiFi for Arduino?

This evening, I saw a reference to something called an ESP8266. A quick web search revealed it was a $5 WiFi chip that was mentioned last August 2014 on Hackaday:

http://hackaday.com/2014/08/26/new-chip-alert-the-esp8266-wifi-module-its-5/

As of this writing it has only been about six months since the discovery. At the time, little was known about it beyond some documents in Chinese and some early attempts to write code to use it. Today, however, you can find this part on Amazon for $7.99 with Prime shipping, or much cheaper on e-Bay with slow shipping from China:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ESP8266

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ESP8266-Serial-WIFI-Wireless-TransceiveR-Module-Send-Receive-LWIP-AP-STA-SY-/221619180149?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3399885275

The chip can been hooked up to a UART (transmit and receive), or via SPI. This means, with a cheap TTL-to-RS232 adapter and a power supply, you could WiFi enable anything with an RS232 port with a bit of communications software.

The next time I have a few spare bucks, I plan to order one and see how easy it is to work with. It could be a fun way to WiFi-enable a CoCo or Arduino :)

And for those curious, here is a tutorial on using it I found:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Using-the-ESP8266-module/

Please leave a comment if you have worked with this chipset. It seems it might not take much to make a C library for Arduino that mirrored the official Arduino WiFi shield API, but used this inexpensive part.

MM/1 versus TC-70

See also: Announcing the MM/1Announcing the TC-70 and Introducing the Tomcat from Frank Hogg Labs.

Just a few months after the announcement of the TC-70, Frank Hogg posted a Q&A file answering some of the questions about how it was different than the MM/1. This file also came from the GEnie online service:

Number: 4643  Name: tomcat_q_a_text
Address: B.BRADY                Date: 900704
Approximate # of bytes: 21420
Number of Accesses: 45  Library: 9
Description:
The Tomcat is a replacement for the CoCo 3. All OS-9ers should read this
file.
Keywords: CoCo,Tomcat,OS-9,OSK,OS-9000,6809,68000
TOMCAT Questions and Answers in a random and sometimes
confused order.

7/3/90


Q: Will the TC9 be a ready-to-go computer with case & power
supply & keyboard or do we get those separately? Options
either way maybe?
A: The TC9 will be offered in five different formats.

#1 is the board that you can install in your case. Price is
$299.95 with ZERO K RAM. 512K installed is $49.95.

#2 is a Low profile desktop case that is about 16 inches
square and 4 inches tall. It will hold the TC9 +3 K-Bus
cards +2 or 3 CoCo cartridges + 2 5 in and 2 3.5 in drives. 
It has a 200 Watt power supply.

#3 is similar to the LP except it is about 6 high and holds
3 5 in and 1 3.5 in drives and and 6 or 7 K-Bus cards plus
the CoCo cartridges. It has a 200 Watt power supply.

#4 is a Mini-Tower about 6 in wide x 16 in tall by 16 in
deep more or less. Holds 2 5's and 2 3's plus 6-8 K-Bus 
cards and CoCo cartridges. It has a 200 Watt power supply.

#5 is a big Tower and it will hold everything, 8 drives, 16
slot bus etc etc. Stands 24 in tall x 8 in wide by 18 or so
deep. It has a 240 Watt power supply.

Q: Would I be able to just unplug the Multi-pak from my CoCo
3, with Disto II floppy controller, Burke & Burke HD
interface & RS232 pak and just plug the works into the
TOMCAT?
A: Yes, because the TC9 has a CoCo Bus everything will work
except ROM cartridge games. You may not want the RS-232 pak
anymore because the TC9 has 2 RS232 style ports on it.

Q: Hmmm, wait, I won't need the RS232 pak anymore. That

still leaves two CoCo-type rompaks to run my existing 
drives - still need the multi-pak?, or can I connect my 
existing drives some other way?
A: The TC9, should run 2 Paks on just a cable. The CoCo Bus
on the TC9 is via a dual header rather than a card edge
connector which was done to make it easier to cable the paks
in the case. We and you have too too many ways to mount
everything so we decided to make it flexible. Also we put 12
volts back on the bus for things like the Burke & Burke
Interface.

Q: Here's one - What kind of video resolution are we talking
about with the new machines, and in how many colors??
A: The TC9 is exactly the same as the CoCo 3 because it uses
the GIME chip. The TC70 uses the VSC chip which has up to
720 X 540 with up to 256 colors

Q: Will the TC9 have an on board floppy controller or will
it be necessary to use a CoCo or K-Bus controller?
A: The TC9 is the same as the CoCo so you would use your
present controller or if you added 68K compatibility you
could use a controller there.

Q: Does the TC9 have 256 color graphics or CD quality sound?
A: No, the color graphics is the same as the CoCo because
the TC9 uses the same GIMI chip the CoCo uses. Sound is 
better because the TC9 has 8 bit D to A as opposed to the 
CoCo's 6 bits. The TC70 has much better than CD quality .
sound However you would have to define just what that term 
means.

Q: Does the TC9 have a built in mouse interface?
A: Yes, that's why we included two serial ports, one can be
used for a serial mouse that is much better than the Tandy
style mouse, smooth as a PC or Mac mouse, unlike the jittery
operation of the Tandy mouse.

Q: What software is included with the TC9?
A: At this point we are planning to include software to
allow running a modified version of Tandys OS9. We are 
working on modifying RS BASIC to the TC9. Details will have 
to wait until later.

Q: What about MS-DOS compatibility?
A: No, we do not plan this at present, although the
possibility of doing a '386 board for the K-Bus has been
discussed it is not planned. We considered emulation briefly
but it would be too slow to be useful. Hard to swallow but
the cheapest way to get MS-DOS is to but a cheap clone and
use it as a terminal. Clones cost less than some terminals
these days and are good for that purpose.

Q: What about Mac compatibility?
A: Yes, we are very interested in that avenue. The Mac uses
a 68000 and hardware that is very similar to what we have on
the TC70 and other K-Bus cards. It would make much more
sense to do a Mac board for the TOMCAT and we are looking 
into it. No promises but we want it too.

Q: Is the TC9 completely CoCo compatible? Will RS BASIC
software work with the TC9?
A: Yes, with a caveat. We did change the hardware (we made
it better) Whenever you change the hardware even in a small 
way you stand the risk of some poorly written software not
running. This should not be the case with OS9 but RS-DOS is
going to be a bear. We are planning on RS-DOS compatibility
but I would be lying if I said we would have it soon without
problems. Again, OS9, no problems! RS-DOS ugh, we're going
to do our best.

Q: Can I use my (Disto, RS, etc) floppy controller and
drives?
A: Yes, the TC9 has the same CoCo bus as the CoCo and all
non-ROM cartridges will work and some ROM cartridges will
too. (see previous question)

Q: Can I mount my drives in your case?
A: Yes, The case has at least a 200 watt power supply and
can handle both floppy and hard drives.

Q: Will my (Burke&Burke, Eliminator etc etc) hard drive
system work in the TC?
A: Yes. Again the 200 watt supply can handle just about
anything you have now.

Q: If I have a hard drive on the TC9 will the tape backup
system for 68K back it up?
A: Yes, in theory at least. You would need to have OS9/68K
running on the TOMCAT but it could work. Software would have
to be done for this to work. Ahhh a new challenge.

Q: Would it be better to run my hard drive under 68K or
under OS9/LII?
A: Tough one, depends on the level of software support under
68K. At some point in time when the software is completely
done under 68K that would be the fastest way to go. Either
way would work with 68K being faster than the 6809.

Q: Will I need my RS232 Pak or can I use one of the serial
ports on the TC9 for my (Modem, Printer, Terminal etc etc)?
A: No you could use one of the 'real' serial ports on the
TC9. They are the same style we used on the Eliminator.
(6552)

Q: Will ROM Paks work on the TC9?
A: No. You would have to change the ROM to support the
hardware we changed.

Q: What OS9/LII software doesn't work on the TC9?
None that you would want. All OS9 software that follows the
rules will work. Software that doesn't follow the rules
should be discarded. I don't think that there is much of
that anyway.

Q: What OS9/LII software does work or how can I tell what to
look for?
A: If the software is from a credible company and does not
make direct calls to the hardware it will work. I know of
none that will not work.

Q: Will my (Disto, Hemphill etc etc) 512K upgrade work in
the TC9?
A: Yes, both plug-in upgrades and plug-in chips can be used.

Q: Will the Tandy Hi-Res mouse work in the TC9?
A: No, we decided to opt for the higher quality serial mouse
that works as smoothly as a Macs. Once you see it you will
not want to go back.

Q: Do I need OS9/68K to make use of the 68000 with the TC9?
A: No, the 68000 CPU is used by OS9/LII as a speed up device
besides being used for OSK. You can get faster LII without
OSK by just having a 68000 CPU.

Q: How is the 1 meg Disto upgrade installed in the TC9?
A: Just plug it in, no soldering required. We provided the
header on the TC9 that you have to solder in the CoCo.

Q: I have a PC keyboard, can I use it with the TC9?
A: Yes, if it's a AT compatible keyboard. Some have a switch
for XT/AT use, others auto sense. Either will work with the
TC9 or TC70.

Q: Will an XT style keyboard work with the TC9?
A: No, not on the TC70 either.

Q: Can I use the new style keyboards that have built in
trackballs with the TC9?
A: Yes, the trackball would be connected to a serial port
and used like a serial mouse.

Q: Can I program the function keys from the keyboard in the
TC9?
A: Yes and more importantly from the computer as well.

Q: What about the other special keys on the keyboard?
A: All of the keys are controlled by software in the
computer. All can be easily reprogrammed.

Q: Can I use my (CM8, Magnavox) monitor with the TC9?
A: Yes and also standard TTL RGB such as PC's use.

Q: What does the starter system include at $499.99?
A: The TC9 board with 0K, case, power supply and keyboard
and all cables.

Q: What does the dual system include at $799.99?
A: Same as above but also a 4 slot K-Bus and a 10 Mhz 68000
CPU card.

Q: Can I use K-Bus cards without a 680x0 CPU card, in other
words will the TC9 work on the K-Bus without a CPU on the
bus and if not why not?
A: No it will not. The TC9's 6809 CPU cannot directly access
anything on the K-Bus. It has to ask the 68000 to do its
work for it. The TC9's memory (CoCo memory) is the only 
thing that the 68000 sees. They use a simple but elegant 
interrupt protocol to talk to each other.

Q: How does the TC9's 6809 communicate with the 68K cpu?
A: Via a interrupt protocol. See above.

Q: If I got a TC9 and a TC70 what else would I need to run
both OS9/LII and OS9/68K?
A: Just a 2 slot K-Bus to plug them into and a power supply
to power them. Everything else is there. (oops... forgot
CoCo memory drives etc.)

Q: Can I run the TC70 without the TC9?
A: Yes, the TC70 is a fully functional 68K color graphics
computer with 68K etc etc.

Q: Will the TC70 run OS9/LII software?
A: No, no 68K computer can run LII software unless it has
been recompiled under either C or BASIC on the 68K machine.
New versions of software will have to be ported to 68K to
work. A task best left to the original author.

Q: Will Multi-Vue work with the TC9?
A: Yes, just like any other OS9 software.

Q: Will OS9/LII run on the TC9?
A: Yes with mods included from us.

Q: Will software drivers be included to support the AT
keyboard, serial ports, serial mouse, parallel port etc?
A: Yes, most certainly and in source too.

Q: Will windowing software like Multi-Vue be available for
the TC70 and your other 68K CPUs?
A: Yes, it is being worked on now and should be ready when
the computer ships.

Q: Can the TOMCAT be configured as a multi-user machine?
A: Yes, with 2 serial and 1 parallel port you have most of
what you need to run a three user system with a parallel
printer.

Q: What hardware and software for the CoCo 3 will work with
the TC9?
A: Yes, on the OS9 side and most non-ROM hardware will work.

Q: Can the TC9 use IBM style disk drives and monitors?
A: Yes.

Q: What's involved in upgrading to OS9/68K?
A: Not much, 68K is like a superset of LII and although much
more powerful it is actually easier to use.

Q: Can the TC9 use more than 1 CoCo cartridge at a time?
A: The CoCo bus on the TC9 is just like the CoCo with the
same restrictions. You can use 2 with a Y cable like the
CoCo and you can use one of the multi-pak like devices sold 
by third party for the CoCo (Howard and Orion should work 
OK)

Q: Can the TC9 use the multi-pak and other 3rd party multi-
pak like devices such as Howard Medicals?
A: Yes, see above.

Q: Can the TC9 use the host adaptor for the A-Bus?
A: Should be no problem, however I haven't tried it.

Q: How much RAM comes with the TC9?
A: None unless you order it with it. ($49.95 for 512K) You
can plug in any 512K upgrade or just add 16 256K chips.

Q: Can the TC9 use RAM on one of the K-Bus cards?
A: No not directly, although the TC9 could instruct the
68000 to move memory from the K-Bus to the TC9 memory for 
some interesting effects.

Q: What is the resolution of the TC9?
A: Same as the CoCo, uses the GIMI.

Q: Can the TC9 hot key thru windows like the CoCo 3?
A: Yes.

Q: How will FHL supply the patches to OS9/LII for the TC9?
A: Either on disk or in the EPROM on the board, haven't
decided that one yet.

Q: Will the TC9 autoboot OS9?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I use the case I have now. (I put my CoCo 3 in a PC
case)?
A: Yes, very easy to do. The TC9 uses a PC power connector.

Q: Will the TC9 fit in the CoCo 3 case?
A: No, too big and the CoCo power supply is too small. The
keyboard would not work either.

I just read your Advertisement in the June issue of
Rainbow, for the TOMCAT. I was quite impressed, and glad you
took a full-page.But, as they say, with the answers to 
questions come more questions. I have pulled out various
issues, that I have tried to keep directly related to the 
Ad. You may want to break up your reply into 2 or more 
separate replies.

Q: For the K-Bus system of OSK: I have heard that the K-bus
is only 16-bit. Is this true, and if so, have you any plans
to change this?
A: The K-Bus is 16 bits data and 16 meg memory map. The
68000 series of CPUs are also only 16 bit so the only reason 
to change this would be for CPU's such as the 68030 and 
68040. Most operations (I/O etc) on the bus are 8 bits so 
the 
only thing we could use 32 bits for would be memory 
accesses. 
We are looking at doing a 68040 card with 4 to 16 meg of 32 
bit on board memory. This would use 16 bit K-Bus memory in a 
slower mode or on-board memory in full 32 bit mode. This 
makes sense because most boards on the bus would only cost 
more if they had to support the full 32 bits while doing
8 bit operations. (SCSI, Floppy, Serial, Parallel etc) As a
side note our paper calculations with our 68030 CPU running
at 16 Mhz and 16 bits data show only a 5% thru-put loss.
Makes sense when you realize that most system operations are
I/O and 32 bits doesn't help. Gotta be careful of benchmarks
that don't show real world situations. The K-Bus 68030 is
twice as fast as our 20X, a 68020 with a 32 bit bus!

Q: (Since OSK is advertised with the K-bus) Does your $300
OSK package come with the C compiler? How much for it
separately?
A: There are two packages now for the K-Bus. The TC70
includes Professional OSK with C and Basic plus other
software. The standard K-bus OSK which is optional does no
have the C or Basic. Take your pick. The TC70 is a better
deal for individual users while the standard version is
cheaper for industrial users.

Q: And mainly for the TOMCAT/TC9 : It was said that the TC9
is "K-bus compatible". Does that mean that it is possible to
add on a K-bus, or does one come with it?
A: It means that the TC9 plugs into the K-Bus for 68K upward
compatibility and no, one does not come with it. We have 4,
8, 12, and 16 slot buses to suit everyone's needs.

Q: How about 1.2/1.4 Meg floppies?
A: The TC70's floppy controller supports all densities
including 1.2/1.4 Meg. We will be doing a stand alone hi-
density K-Bus card for floppies also.

Q: You stated that the TC9 could use a 68000 board as a co-
processor. Would that be in some ways automatic, or is it up
to us to make our programs take advantage of this?
A: OS9/LII would be modified to have to 68000 do things like
memory moves, graphics etc. User software could be changed
to take more advantage of the 68000 but would not be 
necessary to get benefit from it.

Q: Similarly, What configurations are possible? TC9 and TWO
68000 boards?
A: No, many TC9's but only 1 680x0 CPU. The TC9 looks like
just a memory board to the 680x0 and because they are
addressed in 1 meg increments you 'could' have 14 TC9's on
the bus. Time will tell just how many will actually work.

Q: Would a TC9 and a 68030 be better than TC9 +68000?
A: Yes, although I question the dollar value of a 68030 in
this case.

Q: Since a 68000 can use TC9 as a slave board, can a 68030
use a 68000 board?
A: No, only one 680x0 on the bus.

Q: You said that the joystick res has been increased to 256.
How will this affect a high-res joystick interface?
A: You would use a serial mouse or serial joystick if the
256 x 256 wasn't good enough. The hi-res interface is not
supported as yet.

Q: Is there any way to get 640 by XXX joystick res WITHOUT
using a hi-res interface? Will it be possible to use a
logitech, or optical, "digital" mouse, under OS9?
(since it will have "real" serial ports now)
A: YES, and that is the way we think everyone will want to
go. Trackballs and serial joysticks are also available but I
haven't looked into that last one yet.

Q: How about no-halt disk operations, under OS9, without a
68000 board?
A: Would be the same as the CoCo.

Q: You mentioned that under OSK, with the 68000 board as 
main CPU, the TC9 would be "a multi-function graphics co-
processor". You didn't mention anything about the graphics
board I have heard about here! Does the TC9 have increased
res. over the CoCo III?
A: No, but you can have many TC9's giving multiple graphics.
Also the TC70 has color graphics which will also work with
the TC9 in the system. Also multiple graphics cards can be
run in the system with any of the 68K CPU's.

Q: Can I use the 68881 math co-processor from LII?
A: In order to use the 68881 from LII you would have to have
a 680x0 CPU in the system. The procedure would be to pass
the request to the 680x0 and then let it communicate with 
the 68881. The 680x0 would then return the answer to LII. In 
the case of a graphics speed up in a situation like this the
680x0 would also be used to do the graphics for LII.

Q: How is the 68881 math co-processor used with 68K?
A: In OS9/68K there is a module called 'math'. If your

system did not have a math co-processor then the 'math' 
module would do the math with software. If you installed a 
co-processor in the system then by simply changing the 
'math' module to one that used the co-processor is all that 
is required.

Q: I don't have a hard drive now, would it be better for me
to get a hard drive that is SCSI compatible for future use
with 68K?
A: Yes, although all hard drive systems for the CoCo will
work with the TC9 and thru that 68K, a SCSI hard drive would
work better with 68K

Q: How is the power on the CoCo bus of the TC9 vs the CoCo
3's bus.
A: Because we have the power of the 200 Watt power supply we
are able to power more thru the TC9's CoCo bus than the CoCo
3's bus. Also we have 12 volts on the bus which is needed
for some cartridges such as the Burke & Burke interface. 
This allows Y cabling these things that were not possible 
with the CoCo 3. The amount of power available at the bus is 
almost unlimited.

Q: How about streaming tape backup?
A: Yes, we have that on the 68K side of the TOMCAT thru the
SCSI interface.

Q: How is multi-user done?
A: Multi-user is done by connecting terminals to serial

ports on the TOMCAT. The TC9 can handle 2 while the 68K 
TOMCAT can have as many as 60. Memory and CPU power affect 
the number of users as well as the type of users. Users 
doing extensive C development beat the system much more than 
users doing data entry or word processing. As an example in 
an office environment 2-4 users could be supported by the 
TC9, up to 8 or so on a 68000, with a max of about 40 or so 
on a 68030. Using a fast hard drive and DMA is a great help 
as the hard drive is usually the bottleneck of any multi-
user system.

Q: Will the TC9 be compatible with the MM1?
A: The issue of the MM1 vs the TOMCAT is covered in another
file called TCVMM.CMP

I decided to stop this first installment of QnA because of
its size. Please Email me any further questions so that I
can include them in QnA #2.

Thank You
Frank Hogg 70310,317

Introducing the Tomcat from Frank Hogg Labs

See also: Announcing the MM/1 and Announcing the TC-70.

Here is another one from the archives. Uploaded on March 31st, 1990 to the GEnie online service Tandy RoundTable, these documents were the original product announcement from Frank Hogg Labs Tomcat OSK machine. The TC-9 was a 6809 based machine that used the CoCo 3’s GIME chip for compatibility, and the TC-70 was a 68000-type system similar to the MM/1.

I will also attach the original price list.

Number: 4376  Name: tomcat.txt
Address: F.RESLER                Date: 900331
Approximate # of bytes: 7560
Number of Accesses: 49  Library: 9
Description:
This is a file describing the new CoCo4, officially called the TC9 Tomcat,
from Frank Hogg.  Very interesting and exciting!
Keywords: coco4,tomcat,hogg,computer,announcement
I N F I N I T E

    E X P A N S I O N

        P O S S I B I L I T I E S





                                       from 6809 to 
                                          60030 and 
                                             beyond,
                                          with your 
                                            PRESENT 
                                           HARDWARE, 
                                        at your own 
                                            pace...



            at Super Prices...


            (About what the CoCo 3 was when it first came out.)




INTRODUCING....






THE...


         *********                                  *
         *********                                 **
            **    ***   ***   ***   ****    **** ******
            **   ** **  **** ****  **   *  ** **   **
            **   ** **  ** *** **  **      ** **   **
            **   ** **  **  *  **  **   *  ** **   **
            **    ***   **     **   ****    *****   **
                                                        TM
       ____________________________________________________

















The TC9 TOMCAT (TM) is a major improvement over the CoCo 3. 

        The TC9  is over 25% faster! 

        The TC9  uses a PC compatible keyboard. 

        The TC9  has two 'real' serial ports.

        The TC9  supports a serial mouse.

        The TC9  has a parallel printer port.

        The TC9  has provision for 512K on board RAM or it can use a 
                 CoCo 3 512K memory upgrade.

        The TC9  can be upgraded to 1 megabyte with the Disto 1 Meg 
                 upgrade with no soldering, just plug it in. 

        The TC9  has 8 bit D to A and A to D. 8 bit provides better 
                 sound and a higher resolution joystick, 256 vs 64. 

        The TC9  supports an internal speaker.

        The TC9  has the standard CoCo bus so that CoCo cartridges 
                 can be used. 

        The TC9  board can be powered by any PC power supply. This 
                 also allows installing the board in most PC clone 
                 cases.

        The TC9  will work with most, if not all OS9 software.

        The TC9  will have RSDOS compatibility thru 3rd party 
                 vendors.

        The TC9  is K-Bus compatible. 

K-Bus capability is important because it allows interfacing the TC9 to 
the 68000 and even the 68030! By installing the TC9 in a K-Bus 68K 
system the Tomcat becomes a dual-processing system! When in OS9 Level II 
mode the 68000 becomes a co-processor to the TC9, like a accelerator to 
Level II. We can expect a 2 or 3 fold improvement in performance! 
When the 68000 is the master under OS9/68K, the TC9 acts as a co-
processor to 68K. Switching back and forth between systems will be easy 
and will allow a smooth transition from OS9 to OSK. It is not necessary 
to jump to OSK to get the benefits of the 68000, but it provides a 
smooth transition when and if you decide to make the move. You go at 
your own pace, upgrading as you desire, and at each point you get a 
significant improvement in performance, for a very slight cost. 


   E X P A N S I O N

Once a K-Bus backplane is added, (It is not required for TC9 operation) 
the world of 68K is open to you. The logical first step is to add a 
68000 CPU which will immediately speed up Level II operations by several 
factors and opens the door to running OSK. No other additions are needed 
to run OSK, as OSK will run in the TC9 memory and use TC9 I/O. For 
further performance increases additional boards, memory, I/O etc. can be 
added to the K-Bus. It is even possible to have several TC9's in the K-
Bus for a multi-processing system! Memory limits are 16 Megabytes of 
which more than 14 Megabytes can be RAM! 

They are backplane sizes from 4 to 16 slots and a 20 slot bus is under 
consideration. The backplane itself is inexpensive so that if you 
outgrew your first bus you could transfer all your cards to a bigger 
backplane for little cost. Because of the bus concept upgrades to future 
CPUs only requires adding that CPU to accomplish it. For example, you 
could start with a 68000 and later replace that with a 68030 and still 
use ALL of your other cards. 

When new cards such as the 68040 become available, you could add those 
too. Even capabilities, not thought of today can be added by just adding 
a card! 

This is upgrading without having to throw anything away. Even if you 
eventually switched over to 68K completely the TC9 still functions as a 
multi-function graphics co-processor. Our Hi-Res graphics board, now in 
design, will have its own keyboard interface and video memory so that it 
can be used with the TC9 . Several of either cards can be used in the 
same system, making for the first multi-processor, multi-user, multi-
graphics system for OS9 and OSK! Because of the wide variety of K-Bus 
boards available and those under development, the possibilities for the 
future are unlimited. 


The TC9 Tomcat  truly is the CoCo 4 that Tandy should have made, for 
that matter it could well be the CoCo 5, 6, 7, 8.............


SHOULD YOU GET ONE?


If you currently own a CoCo 3 and use it for both RSDOS and OS9 Level II 
the TC9 Tomcat is your road to the future. It will run your current 
software faster and give you powerful new features and performance at 
modest cost. You get the ability to expand at your own pace, at low 
cost, the way you want to do it, for your future.


THE FUTURE.


FHL, in business since 1976, has been manufacturing 680x0 based 
computers for over 6 years! The Tomcat is the computer for the 90's. We 
have put all of our knowledge and experience into the creation of the 
Tomcat. We believe it is the best choice for you and for us. We create 
computers because we like to use them, not because we like to sell them. 
Every computer we've made has been one we've wanted for ourselves. The 
Tomcat is the best we've done... so far.

TOMCAT is a trademark of FHL

FHL
For more information and price/availability:
Call or write:
FRANK HOGG LABORATORY, Inc.
204  WINDEMERE ROAD
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK 13205
315/469-7364
FAX 315/469-8537
CIS 70310,317
DELPHI FHOGG
3/29/90
ty:

And here is the original pricelist, though I do not remember where I got this file from. I slightly altered it for readability since it looks like blank lines got stripped somewhere along the way… Note the date of March 31, 1990.

FHL       TOMCAT COMPUTER PRICE LIST     March 31, 1990

ENCLOSURES

Low Profile for TC9 - 4 high holds 2 5.25 and 2 3.5 drives, 220W PS  $179.95
Mini Tower for 8 slot K-Bus, 2 5.25 and 2 3.5 drives, 220W PS          199.95
Desktop for 12 slot K-Bus, 3 5.25 and 1 3.5 drive, 200W PS             199.95
Big Tower for 16 slot K-Bus, 8 1/2 drives, 250W PS                     399.95
Portable with keyboard and screen.                     Price to be announced.
K-BUS BASED PRODUCTS

TC9 TOMCAT    6809/Multi-I/O/Color Graphics (COCO4)           $299.95 (2nd 1/4)
K-BUS         4 SLOT BUS                                        59.95
K-BUS         8 SLOT BUS                 (Under Development)
K-BUS         12 SLOT BUS                                      189.95
K-BUS         16 SLOT BUS                                      289.95
K-CPU-030     68030 CPU 16MHZ                                  799.95
K-CPU-68K/10  10 MHZ 68000 CPU Board                           189.95
K-CPU-68K/12  12 MHZ 68000 CPU Board                           219.95
K-CPU-68K/16  16 MHZ 68000 CPU Board                           269.95
K-MATH-0      MATH CoProcessor less chip                        89.95
K-MATH-81     MATH CoProcessor with 68881 installed            299.95
K-DRAM-0      2 MegaByte Dynamic Memory (no memory chips)      299.95
K-DRAM-2M     2 MegaByte Dynamic Memory 80NS Chips             499.95
K-MEM-0K      256K Static RAM or 27256 Type EPROM (64K Blocks)  89.95
K-TIMER       Timer, Battery RTC/RAM,Parallel Printer Port     149.95
K-DMA         2 Channel DMA (68440)                            189.95
K-SCSI        SCSI Controller (5380)                           149.95
K-FDC         Floppy Disk Controller (1772) 4 drives           149.95
K-ACI         2 Port Async Serial (68681)                      149.95
K-ACI4        4 Port Async Serial (68681)                      249.95
K-PAR         4 Port Parallel Interface (6821)                 149.95
K-BUSMON      Bus Monitor with LED's and Single Step Switch    189.95
K-PROTO       General Purpose Wirewrap                          59.95
K-GRAPHICS    Hi-Res Color Graphics VSC W/PC Keyboard Interface  (2nd 1/4)
SOFTWARE PRODUCTS

OS9/68000      Includes Editor, Assembler, Debugger, Scred    $249.95
BOOT-ROM SET   Required for OS9                                 50.00
PC-DOS UTILITY Utility to Read/Write/Format PC-DOS under OS9    99.95

FHL reserves the right to change prices and specifications without notice
Delivery: Stock to 30 Days except where noted

Terms: Payment with order in U.S. Funds Check, VISA, MC (AMEX & DINERS add 5%)
Shipping/Handling: $8.00 Per Order (UPS Ground), Foreign and Air Extra

FRANK HOGG LABORATORY, Inc
204 WINDEMERE ROAD
SYRACUSE, NY 13205
315/469-7364
FAX 315/469-8537

Introducing the CoCoPilot DriveWire Server

NEW “PRODUCT” ANNOUNCEMENT

Sub-Etha Software is proud to announce plans for its latest bit of vaporware: The CoCoPilot DriveWire Server, or “CoPi” for short.

The CoPi is a tiny device (which is approximately the size of a Raspberry Pi in a case) that comes with everything you need to have a functioning DriveWire server without having to keep your Mac or Windows machine nearby and powered on just so you can type “dir /x0″.

Pricing is to be announced but hopefully it will be around $50. Kit versions will also be available so you can just buy the bits you need in case you already have some of the other bits.

CoCoPilot Configurations

  • Turnkey – This is a “plug and go” version, where all you have to do is install the DriveWire drivers for NitrOS-9, or load the appropriate RS-DOS software (like the special DriveWire version of HDB-DOS), and plug it in. It comes complete with the server hardware, power supply, server-to-CoCo interface device (often called an RS232 cable), and internal solid-state boot device (sometimes called an “SD card”).
  • BYOE – The bring-your-own-everything edition is shipped as a set of simple instructions that will let you transform a boring Raspberry Pi in to the amazing CoCoPilot DriveWrite Server. All you have to do is provide the Raspberry Pi, SD card, RS232 adapter and CoCo serial cable. And do a bunch of typing*. And downloading. And editing. And configuring. But the end result is you have everything that the Turnkey edition has at a fraction of the price.
  • Custom – Also planned to be available are various custom configurations. Already have a Pi? Don’t need another CoCo serial cable? Our custom configuration engineers are ready to custom tailor your order.

Pricing

We estimate complete pricing will be around $50. Or maybe $60. But probably not more than $75.Unless someone really wants to overpay for this.

Availability

The first working prototype was just turned on last night. Quit rushing us. We’ll announce availability when it is ready.

For more information, be sure to follow this blog.

(In case you didn’t get it, I started working with DriveWire on my Raspberry Pi. I will try to document all my steps to make things easier for you if you want to try it. And if you just want a Pi already setup, I’ll probably be able to do that as well.)


* Actually, it’s not really that much typing. I will have a full “from getting a Pi, to using DriveWire” tutorial next. But if you already know your away around the Pi, you pretty much can boot a freshly installed Pi, login and type:

wget http://sites.google.com/site/drivewire4/download/DriveWire4_4.3.3.zip
unzip DriveWire4_4.3.3.zip
cd DriveWire4_4.3.3

Then, you have to edit the “config.xml” file to tell it what serial port you are using. For instance, if you plug in a USB-RS232 adapter, it might appear as device “/dev/ttyUSB0″. You just edit the file and change two bits:

<DeviceType category="device" list="serial,tcp-server,tcp-client,dummy" type="list">serial</DeviceType>

…and…

<SerialDevice category="device" type="serialdev">/dev/ttyUSB0</SerialDevice>

Then all you have to do to start it up is type:

java -jar DW4UI.jar -noui

Tada! Now your DriveWire-enabled CoCo should be able to start issuing commands to the server.

However, DriveWire has many more features that you can only get to using the DriveWire GUI. If you have a display, mouse and keyboard hooked to your Pi, you can instead run the GUI like this:

startx

That will start up the X-Windows desktop GUI on the Pi. Now all you have to do is run the DriveWire GUI. One way to do this is by opening up a Terminal to get to a shell prompt (Ctrl-Escape -> Accessories -> Terminal).

But wait! The GUI requires a few elements that are not part of the default Pi Linux installation, so you need to add them first by typing:

sudo apt-get install libswt-gtk-3-java
sudo apt-get install  libswt-cairo-gtk-3-jni

Now you are ready to run the DriveWire 4 GUI:

cd DriveWire4_4.3.3
java -jar DW4UI.jar

Now you can do things like update the DriveWire software and many other things you cannot do without a mouse (apparently).

Check back later for a full, step-by-step article on taking a fresh out-of-the-box Pi and turning it in to a DriveWire server. (Or I can sell you one already configured.)

Announcing the TC-70

See also: Announcing the MM/1 and Introducing the Tomcat from Frank Hogg Labs.

And another one from 1990 … the announcement of the Frank Hogg Labs’ Tomcat-70. This was their answer to the MM/1. I believe it was a better machine, but the MM/1 had more software support. In the end, too many systems to choose from, shipping delays, and the lack of Rainbow magazine supporting them, doomed them. (Though, Rainbow featured each one on the cover, so they at least helped launch them.)

 >>>>>>>> ANNOUNCEMENT <<<<<<<<

Frank Hogg Laboratory is pleased to announce the TC70, the
68K computer of choice for Tomcat/Color Computer/68K users.

The TC70 is the latest in our line of K-Bus compatible
products, providing the greatest flexibility and expansion
for the OS9/OSK community.

The TC70 is a stand-alone system that can also be used with
the TC9 Tomcat for complete OS-9 Level 2 compatibility. It is
fully expandable via the K-Bus to over 14+ megabytes of RAM
and 60+ ports and is the lowest cost of any system available.
These TC70 in conjunction with the TC9 provides both CoCo
compatibility as well as OS9/68K. The Tomcat is the most
flexible and expandable of any computer system available
today.

The TC70 has 50% more built in RAM, a better AT
keyboard interface, is more cost effective, and is more
standard with K-Bus compatibility than other 68070 based
single board computers announced or on the market.

The Technical Specs
------------------

Signetics 68070 CPU (Motorola 68000 compatible) at 15 MHz

1.5 MB RAM (1,536K)

Memory upgradeable to 14+ MB via K-Bus

Graphics resolution from 320x200 to 720x540 (interlaced)

From 16 to 256 colors on-screen, depending on resolution mode

Three serial ports expandable to 60 via K-Bus

PC keyboard port for 101-key AT-style keyboard

RGB-Analog output for CM-8 Style monitor and RGB TTL for PC monitors

OS9/68K Professional Version with C and Basic included

Direct Memory Access (DMA) floppy disk controller

DMA SCSI host adapter built in for hard drives and tape

K-Bus compatible

TC9 compatible (CoCo 3)

8-bit D to A port

8-bit port A to D (CoCo joystick)

1 parallel port for parallel printer expandable to 60 via K-Bus

Serial mouse port

Real-time battery-backed clock


CPU
---

The Signetics 68070 is a Motorola compatible CPU running at 15 MHz

I/O Support
-----------
The PC keyboard port is designed for standard AT-style
keyboards. The AT-style keyboards are available in a better
quality than XT keyboards and also provide bi-directional
control of the keyboard LEDs from the computer. This way 
CAPS lock etc can be tied into each window.

Floppy disk controller is included at no extra charge.
Supports both 3.5 and 5.25 drives and ALL OS9-OSK disk
formats including CoCo, Mizar, Atari, Motorola etc etc. Also
supports our PC Utility for using PC DOS disks.

The TC70 floppy controller uses separate DMA from the SCSI
port allowing very fast transfer from hard disk to floppy,
great for backups. Our SCSI drivers, proven by over 6 years
of use supports all SCSI hard drives, tape drives and most
SASI/SCSI controllers including XEBEC, OMTI, Adaptec, 
Western Digital etc.

Software support
----------------

Microwares OS9/68000 Professional version with C and BASIC is
included. Our port of OS9/68K is a mature port with over 6
years of proven reliability. Additional utilities only
available for the Tomcat system extend OS9/68K to the 
utmost.

Expansion
---------

The TC70 can be expanded with K-Bus cards.

Physical specs
--------------

The TC70 is 5.25 X 8 (The same size as a 5.25 disk drive)
and has mounting holes that allow mounting to a 5.25 drive.
This allows very flexible mounting. The TC70 will fit in and
is an upgrade to the QT, QT Plus and QT 00x. The TC70 also
mounts in the K-Bus and will work with the TC9 board and
other K-Bus cards.

Pricing
-------

The preliminary price is $999.99 for the TC70 board and
software. Complete system prices and final specifications
will be uploaded later. Consult the Tomcat brochure for TC9
pricing.

Availability
------------

The TC70 will be available late July 1990.


For more information or to be placed on the waiting list for
any of our Tomcat computers contact:

Frank Hogg 70310,317
Frank Hogg Laboratory, Inc.
204 Windemere Rd.
Syracuse NY 13205
315/469-7364
FAX 315/469-8537

Prices and specifications are of course subject to change
without notice.

Date of this notice: 5/29/90

Thanks

Frank

Announcing the MM/1

See also: Announcing the TC-70 and Introducing the Tomcat from Frank Hogg Labs.

I found some neat stuff going through my archives. Here is the original press release for the MM/1 OS-9 computer! Enjoy this trip down memory lane. It looks like I saved this file on June 9th, 1990.

 ****** ANNOUNCEMENT ******

Kenneth-Leigh Enterprises in association with Interactive Media
Systems, Inc. is pleased to announce the MM/1(tm), the next
computer of choice for Color Computer users. 

The MM/1 is a stand-alone system that can also be used with a
customer's existing Color Computer 3 for complete OS-9 Level 2
compatibility. It accepts existing RGB Analog monitors such as
the Magnavox and Tandy models popular with CoCo users. Most Tandy
drives and the Tandy Hi-Res mouse are also useable.

Several solutions are being weighed that offer a level of RS-DOS
(Disk Extended Color Basic) compatibility as well.

Four fully-functional prototypes of the MM/1 were demonstrated at
the Chicago RainbowFest April 6 - 8, 1990. Units are being
shipped to developers in April in order to assure prompt
availability of top-quality software. Planned software projects
will make popular Color Computer(tm), Amiga(tm), and MS-DOS(tm)
programs available to you on the MM/1. 

Kenneth-Leigh Enterprises and Interactive Media Systems, Inc.
would like to thank the vendors and developers who have worked
closely and quietly with us for the last six months to produce
the MM/1 computer and its software. Their expertise and
enthusiasm made the Chicago Rainbowfest an exciting debut for the
MM/1. 


The Technical Specs
===================

 Signetics 68070 CPU (Motorola 68000 compatible) at 15 MHz

 Graphics resolution from 320x200 to 720x540 (interlaced)

 From 16 to 256 colors on-screen, depending on resolution mode

 Two serial ports: DB-9 and DB-25 (DB-25 configurable for
 MIDI -- the Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

 PC keyboard port for 101-key XT-style keyboard

 RGB-Analog output for your CM-8 or Magnavox monitor

 Operating system included

 Direct Memory Access (DMA) floppy disk controller

 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy drive with 3 ms access track-to-track

 1 MB RAM



Technical Specs for Optional Input/Output Board
===============================================

 DMA SCSI host adapter built in -- supports hard drives, CD-ROM
 drives, and other 8-bit SCSI-compatible devices; transfer at
 2 MBytes/sec or faster

 Memory upgradeable to 2 or 8 MB with SIMM memory

 Stereo 8-bit DMA port for sound sampling and playback

 Two parallel ports for parallel printer and OS/Gateway support

 CoCo joystick port with 8-bit resolution

 Hi-res Tandy mouse port

 Real-time clock, battery-backed with 56 bytes of non-volatile
 memory



Technical Notes:
================

Graphics 
--------

The MM/1 can display up to 256 colors on screen simultaneously in
each of two resolutions -- 320x200 and 320x400.

It can also display 16 colors in each of the higher resolutions
-- 640x200, 640x400, and 720x540.

On the first board is a header for a palette controller that
extends the palette of available colors to 16 million. 
 
Much of the graphics is controlled by a special graphics chip
specifically designed to work with the MM/1's CPU. This chip
executes graphics logic extremely fast and includes a pixel
accelerator that substantially reduces CPU overhead.

Both the CPU and the graphics chip were designed by Signetics, a
Philips subsidiary, for the upcoming Compact Disk-Interactive
devices. This is the first home system to our knowledge that has
been based on this cutting-edge technology.

The higher resolution modes are possible with an interlace mode.
Unlike interlace mode on the Commodore Amiga, the MM/1 interlace
mode displays virtually no flicker. 

In interlace mode and with a montitor that supports overscan
(such as the multisynchronizing monitors from NEC), a customer
can view up to 720x540 pixels on one screen. This is an ideal
mode for previewing documents in desktop publishing applications
or CAD. For comparison, this mode has three times the number of
pixels as the Color Computer hi-res mode. It can show up to 60
lines of text.


CPU
---

The Signetics 68070 is a Motorola compatible CPU in a quad
flat-pack design. Extra features support DMA. It runs at 15 MHz,
providing an optimal system throughput of over 1000 Dhrystones
(for comparison, the Atari ST running OS-9 logs in at around 750
Dhrystones). 

Optimal speed is reached when you have both the CPU board and the
I/O board working together.

The CPU is proving to be a very popular chip for embedded
applications.


I/O Support
-----------

The MM/1 has unprecedented support for peripherals and sound. A
fully-configured system has three serial ports, two parallel
ports, PC keyboard port, RGB-A port, DMA sound (data acquisition
port). 

Many of the ports are expressly designed to support your
existing investment in hardware including MIDI and Tandy Hi-Res
mouse support. You can also use a Logitech serial mouse on this
system. It is trivial to use a terminal on the DB9 port, making a
multiuser system both low cost and simple.

On the first board, you will see two serial ports, one a DB9 and
one a DB25. The DB25 can be modified (either at the factory or by
the customer) to be a MIDI port with optional low-cost MIDI
hardware. 

As mentioned, the DB9 can be used for a terminal. 

The PC keyboard port is designed for standard XT-style keyboards.
Customers can take advantage of pricing competition in the PC
market, where excellent keyboards are extremely affordable.

Floppy disk controller is included at no extra charge. Also, a
1.4 Megabyte floppy drive is included. These drives are the
popular 3.5" variety that provide fast and reliable performance.
One disk contains as much data as nine (9) standard Tandy format
disks, or four (4) double-sided disks.

The MM/1 floppy controller uses DMA to access memory. This improves
system performance and makes for smoother multitasking. DMA permits
applications to play back sound while accessing large data or
graphics files.

The header for the daughterboard allows the factory or customer
to easily add a palette chip that lets one choose any 256 colors
from a palette of 16 million. (Graphics in the 320x400 mode
are breathtaking with 256 colors.)

The RGB-A port allows the use of your existing Tandy CM-8 or
Magnavox 8515 monitor. RGB-A to composite converters are already
available from Color Computer vendors if you wish to use an
inexpensive monochrome composite monitor on the MM/1. 


DMA port
--------

The DMA port on the MM/1 is a multifunction port that samples at
line levels at 350 KHz or faster. This allows the sampling of
sound from cassette decks or synthesizers for playback on cue.
The DMA port uses dual (stereo) AD/DA converters. Sampling rate
is variable so that the customer can select the optimum rate
(faster rates use more memory but record and playback higher
frequency sound).

The DMA port can also be used for data acquisition. The MM/1 is
already considered a viable platform for medical and industrial
data acq applications.

Joystick/mouse ports
--------------------

The second board contains a CoCo joystick port with 8-bit
resolution. This makes for smooth game playing. A port is provide
for the Tandy Hi-res mouse, too. A powered DB-9 port allows the
use of a professional Logitech serial mouse. These mice come in a
wide variety of packaging and features, and are competitively
priced.


Miscellaneous
-------------

The MM/1's second board contains a real-time clock that is
battery backed and contains some memory for variable storage.
This is included at the express request of the majority of
respondents to the Kenneth-Leigh Enterprises/Interactive Media
Systems, Inc. survey taken last October.

The MM/1 comes with 1 Megabyte of RAM (256x4). The second board
accepts modern, inexpensive SIMMs (1 Megabyte x 8) that can
expand the system up to nine Megabytes total.

The first Megabyte is used for video memory once the second board
has been added. Otherwise, the system and video share the first
Megabyte.


Software support
----------------

Interactive Media Systems, Inc. is implementing a developers
program. Titled The MM/1 Early Developers Program, it provides
full MM/1s to developers, with operating system and languages, at
about 20% off of list prices. Members in the program receive
system software updates, information about the hardware that may
be required, on-line and telephone support, and advance notice of
many new products. At the end of the development, Interactive
Media Systems, Inc. guarantees a purchase of finished units for
reselling. This encourages developers to produce salable
products and reduces the ultimate cost of the computer to them.
For more information, please contact the address below.

In addition to work that current developers are planning,
Interactive Media Systems, Inc. is working with software
engineers from the Color Computer, IBM, and Amiga markets.
Planned projects include DOS emulation, versatile windowing
system with a mainstream Graphical User Interface (GUI),
hypertext, and multimedia support. Other plans include porting
major DOS development environments over to the MM/1, allowing key
players in the DOS world to simply recompile their source code on
the MM/1.

Interactive Media Systems, Inc. is aggressively supporting the
MM/1 in order to provide an irresistable value to Color Computer
owners who are ready to move up into the 680x0 world.


Expandibility
-------------

While the two-board MM/1 system does not require a bus, one will
be available in 1990. Designed as a single-master 96-pin 32-bit
bus, it will provide performance and flexibility unmatched in
home computers -- and in many office computers as well.

When the customer wishes to purchase the bus, he or she can
easily install it into the case, adding the two-board system on
the bus card. 

The specification for the bus will be published to encourage
third-party developers to create interesting and useful add-on
boards. Possible boards may include digitizers, tape backup to
streaming tape units or VCRs, networking support, additional I/O
for more involved setups (more users, more printers, and so on),
and even other processing units.

When a customer wishes to upgrade to another CPU and graphics
board, the two-board MM/1 can be removed from the case, inserted
in another with its own power supply, and used as a graphics
terminal. 

Graphics terminals such as this can be created at low cost to
construct a multiuser/networking environment ideal for small
offices and education.


Pricing
-------

In this price-sensitive market, Interactive Media Systems, Inc.
is offering a low-cost machine with high functionality. To keep
the price as low as possible, IMS is negotiating favorable
contracts with software vendors to ensure the best value for our
customers. As a result, all prices are preliminary. 

The preliminary list price is $899 for the base system, $1199 for
the full system with more memory.

Street prices in the Color Computer market will be much lower,
with anticipated discounts of twenty percent off of list price.

Availability
------------

The MM/1 and all other home computer systems must be FCC approved
to be sold legally. (Many products are sold illegally without
FCC approval. Interactive Media Systems, Inc. will not sell
illegal products.)

As a result, the MM/1 may not be generally available until late
summer, with an anticipated debut date of August 1, 1990.

Plans for debuting the MM/1 include VIP parties in North
Carolina, Chicago, New York, Quebec, and Washington, DC. Interested
potential customers should be sure to send in their name and
address to Kenneth-Leigh Enterprises to be invited to these
celebrations. Kenneth-Leigh Enterprises is handling the
marketing for Interactive Media Systems, Inc. 



For more information contact:
 Kenneth-Leigh Enterprises
 1840 Biltmore Avenue NW
 Suite 10
 Washington, DC 20009

Interested parties can subscribe to The Insider(c), a publication
of Interactive Media Systems, covering the MM/1 and other
multimedia topics. Cost is $9.95 for four quarterly issues. 

Stay tuned for the video of the MM/1!

An easier way to save your old floppies

Over in the Facebook CoCo group, Steve Batson pointed out an interesting Textfiles.com product review for a USB 5 1/4″ drive interface.

The FD5025 USB 5.25″ floppy controller by deviceside.com is a $55 interface that lets you plug up a “modern. 1.2M 5 1/4″ floppy drive (provide your own drive, case and power supply) and run software on Mac, Windows or Linux to read older 360K floppy disks in to disk image files. Currently, the software understands the following disk formats:

  • Apple DOS 3.2 (13-sector)
  • Apple DOS 3.3 (16-sector)
  • Apple ProDOS
  • Atari 810
  • Calcomp Vistagraphics 4500
  • Commodore 1541
  • Kaypro 2 CP/M 2.2
  • Kaypro 4 CP/M 2.2
  • MS-DOS
  • Motorola VersaDOS
  • North Star MDS-A-D
  • PMC MicroMate
  • Tandy Color Computer Disk BASIC
  • TI-99/4A

Unless it’s doing something special with the file system, I would hope that it could also handle CoCo OS-9 disks (same track/sectors, just different data on the 256-byte sectors).

It looks like a very interesting interface and one that would have saved me a ton of time. BUT, my custom approach let me locate and flag the bad disks and identify the “lost” sectors in the copies (I would write a set pattern to any sector I could not read from the disk — easier to detect later with a disk editor or utility program).

Check it out, and if you have experience with this interface, please leave a comment with your comments…