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!

3 thoughts on “Announcing the MM/1

  1. Pingback: Announcing the TC-70 | Sub-Etha Software

  2. Pingback: Introducing the Tomcat from Frank Hogg Labs | Sub-Etha Software

  3. Pingback: MM/1 versus TC-70 | Sub-Etha Software

Leave a Reply