MICROCOMPUTER HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE COLLECTION
Microcomputer Hardware, Peripherals, Software and Documentation Collection
My collection of microsystems software on magnetic and optical discs formats, and hardware from a range of manufacturers with third party peripherals, including manuals, brochures, and other forms of documentation, extends to licences and manuals for now well over 350 products, and to many different computers.
Most of these were working or were when last they were switched on. As is the way with vintage computer people, we swap systems so that those who can do most with them can have them, so my virtually complete Cromemco set of computers and software and documents is now in the hands of James Longworth, who traded them for his 68k NeXt Cube.
This set of pages will be progressively updated as time allows to build up the details of what I may be able to share with the community that has now emerged who share my interest in this key period of social knowledge sea change. A nice link (here) shows the crossovers of performance as mainframe, mini and micros emerged.
Two of the machine types in my collection (Sage, Western Digital Pascal Microengine) are very poorly represented (if at all) in other computer museum websites.
Individual pages will be added as time permits, covering different aspects of my collection.
Some of the more interesting microsystems include
• Digicom Research (in Ithaca NY) Astrological Computer and printer combination
This system was designed and built by a group of ex Cornell engineers, who thoroughly reworked the basic astrological calculations as published in this arcane literature, and corrected many of the calendar and other errors that they discovered by such a careful examination of both the astronomy and calendar factors as well as the astrological interpretations. No issue of belief or otherwise was involved, this was to make a solid and well engineered product for this specialist market... astrology was not the issue, marketing was!
The system I secured was used with great success by Doris Greaves, apparently a noted person in Astrological circles. I never did get a straight answer from her about the issue that the Digicomp machine produced different answers to those of other astrologers in many cases... in the case of the Digicomp machine this was due to the internal consistency built in by the engineers, but perhaps the variability of astrologer interpretations was enough that these variations caused no comment. While the astrology is of no interest to me at all, these aspects are worth pursuing.. so one day I will get the machine and its dedicated printer working again..
I can make one interesting comment, when I visited Digicomp (see Pascal Microengine page in this site), they showed me the machine as their first effort for fun - and tested in on the birth details of my then wife.. it came out with an interpretation (engineering not astrologer) that her kidneys were in danger... as it happened her kidneys had already failed and it later killed her... the engineers in the main neither believed in astrology nor were aware of anything about my private life. Just another coincidence, but it did motivate me to secure Doris’ machine when she died and it had gone back to the USA as part of her effects.. her relatives passed it to my friend and colleague Rick Donelley who carried back over the Pacific...
• Otrona Attache, 8-16 arguably the first and most refined portable (at least a bit better than the luggable Kaypros etc!) and certainly rare even back in the early 1980s. I used mine to project through video projectors for lectures and seminars, and upgraded it to twin 720kb drives (with the old 360’s as a separately powered pair pack). David Broadbent (of Elsternwick, Melbourne Australia) used the MsDSo development kit to update the MsDos version that it ran, and it was fast and effective machine which I used for years.. and ran UCSD Pascal on it as well. It was certainly a lot faster than the earlier IBM PCs and variants, and still ran CP/M as well and provided a video compatible output which I used to good effect for lectures and seminars in the early and late 1980s. . There are a few pictures on the web, and there is now a full page of pictures on this website.
• Apple Newton, a fascinating small system that was far too ahead of its time and the battery life and computing power required to fully exploit it handwriting interpretation capacities.. echoes of the Newton are everywhere in the oughties..
• Further details of these and other items (including a complete list of licensed software backed up onto 3.5” disc images via several stages onto CDroms and DVDS for all sorts of computers) will be added progressivelyFor the software collection, there were several extremely good floating point chip (AMD9511) supporting libraries for CP/M, of which I have a few in binary format.(see the benchmarking MICSIG paper where the relative performance of several CP/M Fortran FPU access libraries is discussed) : greater detail or disassembled details would be very helpful.
Pages of pictures are added here of a selection of my (working) Microsystems collection, these will be progressively added as I am now in the startup stages of a Working Microsystems Museum for Swinburne (“LiveMicro”).
Updated on 2 February 2015