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Tandy Videotex and Office Information System

In July of 1983 Tandy announced the "Tandy Videotex and Office
Information System" that ran under Xenix. It was an early attempt at
a
hypertext system. It used dialup lines and was hosted on Tandy Model
16b
(and later 6000) computers.

An 8 port and 16 port multiplexor (that's how they spelled it) were
announced. I don't know if either ever shipped.

There is some information available in the July 25, 1983 issue of
InfoWorld. There is also an article in "TRS-80 Microcomputer News"
V5,I
11 (#54 ).

I used to run one of these for a local company (that I still work
for).
Does anyone have the manuals or software from one of these systems? I
still have the hardware (not the mux, just the 16b and hard drive).

Kelly
0
Kelly
10/11/2011 1:50:50 PM
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"Kelly Leavitt" <kb2syd@gmail.com> wrote in message 
news:8475bf9e-abb7-4156-8f7f-1dc01f9cc16f@q25g2000vbx.googlegroups.com...
> In July of 1983 Tandy announced the "Tandy Videotex and Office
> Information System" that ran under Xenix. It was an early attempt at
> a
> hypertext system. It used dialup lines and was hosted on Tandy Model
> 16b
> (and later 6000) computers.
>
> An 8 port and 16 port multiplexor (that's how they spelled it) were
> announced. I don't know if either ever shipped.
>
> There is some information available in the July 25, 1983 issue of
> InfoWorld. There is also an article in "TRS-80 Microcomputer News"
> V5,I
> 11 (#54 ).
>
> I used to run one of these for a local company (that I still work
> for).
> Does anyone have the manuals or software from one of these systems? I
> still have the hardware (not the mux, just the 16b and hard drive).
>
> Kelly

I didn't know that they ever came with a 16 style machine.

If I remember this right...

The original system came with a Model II.  The MUX was a 16 slot Model II 
motherboard inside a custom rackmount size case.  It had a CPU card and a 
memory card.  Then there were 4 clusters of 3 boards that were a dual-modem, 
a 4-channel com board, and another dual-modem.  The 4 channel com board was 
based on WD8250 chips, similar to the IBM PC, with a single Z80-CTC used as 
a BRG.  Each modem board would short the IEIN and IEOUT lines on the buss so 
that the interrupt enable would make it down the bus to the last com card. 
Since the bus was so long, there wasn't the normal Z80 interrupt enable 
lookahead circuit on the CPU, instead there was just a long delay.  The 
memory card was generic Model II.  The CPU was different due to the IE 
circut, and also had a different ROM that booted from the serial port.  The 
com boards were custom to the MUX, but could be used in a Model 16 (actually 
with xenix, the 16 vs 2 didn't matter), but NOT a Model II, due to the fact 
that they used memory mapping for all the ports they had to support, and 
TRSDOS wouldn't handle the conflict well.  Xenix had no trouble with it, and 
in fact there were drivers for the cards on one of the tar disks. 
Unofficially, of course.  Just like there were drivers for the Model 2000 
keyboard, and for a small adapter that allowed either Model 1000 or Model 
2000 Mice/Clock boards to be used on the 5-1/4" hard disk cable...  And the 
Model II graphics card.  Like I said, all unofficial.  Well, mostly.

The Model II used for the MUX was generic Model II, and when it booted it 
just became the 'boot device' for the MUX over the serial port.

There was a 'service rom' for the MUX that allowed for easy setup of the 
modems.  (They were 300 baud, answer only.)  On interest...  The service rom 
had one step that said Wrong Key Bozo, try again if you hit the command 
sequence in the wrong order...  (There's an interesting story behind that! 
Not as good as the Rummy Buzzard, but still good)

The reason I say the MUX setup never came with the 16 type machines is that 
I don't recall it ever being released on an OS that supported motor startup 
on the 16.



0
Mike
10/11/2011 6:37:37 PM
By the way...  When you sent email to engineers at Tandy in the 1984-1985 
timeframe, you would send to nameli@trsvax
where name was usually (but not always)  first name and last initial. 
trsvax was originally a vax, but it was so slow and crashed so often it was 
replaced with a MUX motherboard with Model 16 boards in it, and 4 of the MUX 
com cards.  This gave the machine 18 com ports.  Trsvax was actually a 
modified Model 16.  And MUCH more reliable than the vax.

The vax was then renamed and moved off strictly as a software repository and 
snoop machine.  At one point there was software on it (allegedly) that would 
log keystrokes, but then everyone kept a script running at their desk that 
would open a file, move paragraphs around, put it back, reopen it, edit it, 
put it back, all day long, just to keep their 'productivity' up.  Management 
at that time played some really dirty tricks, but then so did the 
engineers...



0
Mike
10/11/2011 6:46:40 PM
On Oct 11, 2:37=A0pm, "Mike Y" <j...@user.com> wrote:
> "Kelly Leavitt" <kb2...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>
> news:8475bf9e-abb7-4156-8f7f-1dc01f9cc16f@q25g2000vbx.googlegroups.com...
>
>
>
>
>
> > In July of 1983 Tandy announced the "Tandy Videotex and Office
> > Information System" that ran under Xenix. It was an early attempt at
> > a
> > hypertext system. It used dialup lines and was hosted on Tandy Model
> > 16b
> > (and later 6000) computers.
>
> > An 8 port and 16 port multiplexor (that's how they spelled it) were
> > announced. I don't know if either ever shipped.
>
> > There is some information available in the July 25, 1983 issue of
> > InfoWorld. There is also an article in "TRS-80 Microcomputer News"
> > V5,I
> > 11 (#54 ).
>
> > I used to run one of these for a local company (that I still work
> > for).
> > Does anyone have the manuals or software from one of these systems? I
> > still have the hardware (not the mux, just the 16b and hard drive).
>
> > Kelly
>
> I didn't know that they ever came with a 16 style machine.
>
> If I remember this right...
>
> The original system came with a Model II.

<SNIP>

> The reason I say the MUX setup never came with the 16 type machines is th=
at
> I don't recall it ever being released on an OS that supported motor start=
up
> on the 16.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Great information Mike. According to RSC-10 from 1984 (page 17) the
"Expanded VIS System Operation Configuration" included:
1 Disk Model 16B with built in 15 meg hard disk
12 meg Secondary Hard Disk
TRS-80 Multiplexor (this was probably the model II CPU and modem cards
you described)
VIS Software

By RSC-19 (1988) it was no longer offered in their catalog.

Kelly

0
Kelly
10/12/2011 12:58:13 PM
On Tue, 11 Oct 2011 14:37:37 -0400, Mike Y wrote:

> "Kelly Leavitt" <kb2syd@gmail.com> wrote in message
> news:8475bf9e-abb7-4156-8f7f-1dc01f9cc16f@q25g2000vbx.googlegroups.com...
>> In July of 1983 Tandy announced the "Tandy Videotex and Office
>> Information System" that ran under Xenix. It was an early attempt at a
>> hypertext system. It used dialup lines and was hosted on Tandy Model
>> 16b (and later 6000) computers.
>>
>> An 8 port and 16 port multiplexor (that's how they spelled it) were
>> announced. I don't know if either ever shipped.
>>
>> There is some information available in the July 25, 1983 issue of
>> InfoWorld. There is also an article in "TRS-80 Microcomputer News" V5,I
>> 11 (#54 ).
>>
>> I used to run one of these for a local company (that I still work for).
>> Does anyone have the manuals or software from one of these systems? I
>> still have the hardware (not the mux, just the 16b and hard drive).
>>
>> Kelly
> 
> I didn't know that they ever came with a 16 style machine.
> 
> If I remember this right...
> 
> The original system came with a Model II.  The MUX was a 16 slot Model
> II motherboard inside a custom rackmount size case.  It had a CPU card
> and a memory card.  Then there were 4 clusters of 3 boards that were a
> dual-modem,
> a 4-channel com board, and another dual-modem.  The 4 channel com board
> was based on WD8250 chips, similar to the IBM PC, with a single Z80-CTC
> used as a BRG.  Each modem board would short the IEIN and IEOUT lines on
> the buss so that the interrupt enable would make it down the bus to the
> last com card. Since the bus was so long, there wasn't the normal Z80
> interrupt enable lookahead circuit on the CPU, instead there was just a
> long delay.  The memory card was generic Model II.  The CPU was
> different due to the IE circut, and also had a different ROM that booted
> from the serial port.  The com boards were custom to the MUX, but could
> be used in a Model 16 (actually with xenix, the 16 vs 2 didn't matter),
> but NOT a Model II, due to the fact that they used memory mapping for
> all the ports they had to support, and TRSDOS wouldn't handle the
> conflict well.  Xenix had no trouble with it, and in fact there were
> drivers for the cards on one of the tar disks. Unofficially, of course. 
> Just like there were drivers for the Model 2000 keyboard, and for a
> small adapter that allowed either Model 1000 or Model 2000 Mice/Clock
> boards to be used on the 5-1/4" hard disk cable...  And the Model II
> graphics card.  Like I said, all unofficial.  Well, mostly.
> 
> The Model II used for the MUX was generic Model II, and when it booted
> it just became the 'boot device' for the MUX over the serial port.
> 
> There was a 'service rom' for the MUX that allowed for easy setup of the
> modems.  (They were 300 baud, answer only.)  On interest...  The service
> rom had one step that said Wrong Key Bozo, try again if you hit the
> command sequence in the wrong order...  (There's an interesting story
> behind that! Not as good as the Rummy Buzzard, but still good)
> 
> The reason I say the MUX setup never came with the 16 type machines is
> that I don't recall it ever being released on an OS that supported motor
> startup on the 16.

Mike,

I remember you and Frank Durda talking about the
Wrong Key Bozo and Rummy Buzzard stories from Tandy
years ago in this newsgroup.

I miss the days when you could go into a Radio Shack
and buy a Forrest Mims engineer book, an Archer elec-
tronics kit, or just play Haunted House on a Model I.

I received a 4K CoCo in 1980 for my 13th birthday, and
decided to check out the computers at the high school
the next year (1981).  They had these four computers:
    Model I
    Model III
    Apple II+
    IBM PC (just introduced)

Although I owned a CoCo, I received the TRS-80 Micro-
computer News, and had acquired enough knowledge about
TRSDOS to be able to put passwords on files.  This
aggravated the teacher in our BASIC class since he didn't
know TRSDOS.  I could password protect files and he
couldn't figure out why he was receiving an Access Denied
message.

I wasn't aware of Randy Cook at that time, but when I
started using PCDOS/MSDOS, I felt it actually was less
capable than TRSDOS just because it didn't support pass-
word protection of files.  I later learned from the David
and Theresa Welsh book, "Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthu-
siasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution", that Randy was at
Datapoint when he developed TRSDOS, and Datapoint had done
some pretty impressive technical developments such as ARCNET,
and resulted in Intel developing the 8080 microprocessor.  I
think Datapoint's operating system work was an influence on
Randy's development of TRSDOS.

Someone recently asked about Rummy Buzzard at Matthew
Reed's site.  I think Matthew's TRS32 emulator is
awesome.  Here he discusses the Rummy Buzzard info, which
you probably have more intimate knowledge of:

    http://www.trs-80.org/trsdos-rummy-buzzard-release/


Joe Hagen
0
Joe
10/13/2011 3:17:38 AM
"Joe Hagen" <jdhagen@chorus.net> wrote in message 
news:mLslq.22$ZX.4@newsreading01.news.tds.net...
> On Tue, 11 Oct 2011 14:37:37 -0400, Mike Y wrote:
>
>
> Someone recently asked about Rummy Buzzard at Matthew
> Reed's site.  I think Matthew's TRS32 emulator is
> awesome.  Here he discusses the Rummy Buzzard info, which
> you probably have more intimate knowledge of:
>
>    http://www.trs-80.org/trsdos-rummy-buzzard-release/
>
>
> Joe Hagen

Hi Joe!

The 'probably true' version over there is close enough to the truth.  Well, 
close enough to what I remember as hearing at the time.  The original TRSDOS 
had the problem.  2.2 fixed it and was tested.  (It was actually quite 
amazing the core trash that got out by accident and even more amazing what 
never got discovered at the time.  But then, I think there might have been 
different masters, not a single master, used for duplication on multiple 
machines)  Once the problem was discovered, 2.3 was quickly released and 
insured to be clean.

There was an interesting story about a Model III customer that complained 
about his Model III freezing with double sized video and saying "Hello you 
rummy buzzard".  I called him personally to appologize.  He was Brittish...

I had him run some memory test and sure enough, it failed.  (There were a 
LOT of bad memory chips out there.  Chips that would pass a static memory 
test all day long, but would currupt when executing code.  Turned out there 
was tight timing on one of the data fetches due to refresh (I seem to recall 
T3 of the op code fetch cycle).  The guys machine needed new memory.  It was 
just really freaky that it displayed that message when it hosed)

Mike


0
Mike
10/13/2011 11:38:29 AM
On Thu, 13 Oct 2011, Mike Y wrote:


> I had him run some memory test and sure enough, it failed.  (There were a
> LOT of bad memory chips out there.  Chips that would pass a static memory
> test all day long, but would currupt when executing code.  Turned out there
> was tight timing on one of the data fetches due to refresh (I seem to recall
> T3 of the op code fetch cycle).  The guys machine needed new memory.  It was
> just really freaky that it displayed that message when it hosed)
>
Memory was advancing at a pretty good rate, but it was still early in 
retrospect.  When Don Lancaster did the first TV Typewriter, it used long 
shift registers, that was seen as the future.  Around the same time, 73 or 
74, hams were building slow scan TV converters, and using lots (for the 
time) of RAM, well it wasn't "RAM", it was those long shift registers, 
that was what was cheap and available.  About that time I got a 256 byte
RAM at Poly-Paks, sort of a novelty at the time.

The late seventies wasn't that much later, in retrospect, yet the memory
density was being pushed up.

All I had about this time in 1981 was 8K of static RAM on my OSI 
Superboard, and it came from the factory with only 4K.  I paid the extra 
to get the extra 4K, I must have the bill somewhere, I want to say it was 
fifty dollars that year but I may be misremembering.  2114, which were 1K 
by 4, I guess, so I needed 8 for 4K.

(And around that time, or shortly after, we started to see 2K by 8 static 
RAM in 24pin packages like EPROM, which seemed like a density breakthrough 
for static RAM, soon after it get even denser.)

I remember Pete Stark in his ongoing series about the SWTP 68xx based 
computers in Kilobaud, he mentioned Motorola 32K DRAM that turned out to 
be 64K.  There were enough defects in the 64K DRAMs that Motorola for a 
time could issue them as 32K, doing something so the bad half wasn't 
usable, and being able to rely on having a supply of them for a while. 
Then manufacturing improved, and they no longer had the supply of 
defective ICs, but they kept issuing them under the 32K number, for the 
companies that were buying the 32K.

I thought that was the story with the original 32K CoCo.  It used the 32K 
DRAMs and then someone for some reason discovered that in their CoCo, the
other half was good too.

Who thought at the time that not only would hard drives get so cheap, but 
RAM would get so cheap that one could store whole songs in it?

    Michael

0
Michael
10/15/2011 3:25:56 AM
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