July 27th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Vector Graphic, Vector 1, S-100, Intel, Zilog, 8080, Z80, CPU, Altair 8800, Bob Harp, Lore Harp, Carole Ely, Byte, freelance work, FastCompany, advertisement, 1977
NOW AVAILABLE IN RUST
The Vector 1 (1977) was the first complete computer system sold by Vector Graphic, Inc., a California-based firm founded by Lore Harp (now McGovern), Carole Ely, and Bob Harp in August 1976.
The Vector 1 included an Intel 8080A or Zilog Z80 CPU, and it utilized the S-100 bus introduced by the Altair 8800. In an unusual nod to aesthetics, the Vector 1 shipped in two case color options: green or "rust," which was Vector's name for orange. It retailed for for $849 fully assembled (about $3,288 today when adjusted for inflation) or $619 as a kit.
It just so happens that I wrote an article about the history of Vector Graphic for FastCompany recently. You may enjoy it.
[ From Byte Magazine, February 1977, p.61]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned an S-100 based computer? Tell us about it.
December 31st, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Altos Computer Systems, Sun-Series, ACS8000-6, Z80, S-100, woman, 8-inch floppies, advertisement, Byte, 1979
"The first business computer system that will not instantly crush your secretary."
Happy New Year from Vintage Computing and Gaming!
[ From BYTE, November 1979, p.21 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Quick! Name your favorite computer, calculator, or console with a Z80 CPU.
November 5th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Semidisk, SSD, IBM PC, S-100, Byte, 1985
This IS your daddy's SSD.
Back in January, I traced the evolution of the Solid State Drive from its 1978 origins to the present in a PC World slideshow. From that experience, I learned that SSDs, as a product class, were far older than most people realize.
Case in point: Seen here is an advertisement for a 1985-era SSD called the SemiDisk. The company behind this early SSD, SemiDisk Systems, sold a wide range of "disk emulators" (as they were called back then) for platforms like S-100 bus systems, the TRS-80 Model 2, and the IBM PC. All of them used solid-state RAM chips to achieve read and write speeds far beyond those of rotating platter drives at the time.
The 2 megabyte SemiDisk for the IBM PC retailed for $1,795 in 1985. That's about $3,860 today when adjusted for inflation. Amusingly, at that vintage price rate — about $1,930 per megabyte — a 256 GB SemiDisk SSD would cost over $494 million today. Yep, that's a 494 followed by six zeroes.
Of course, you can buy a 256GB flash-based SSD right now for under $180. Not bad.
[ From BYTE, September 1985, p.329 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: When did you buy your first solid state PC drive? How big was it?
July 23rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Canon, Canon AS-100, IBM PC, IBM, Intel, 8088, business machines, Popular Computing, 1983
The good, the bad, and the obscure.
There's a vast wilderness of little-known business micros that have long been overshadowed by the IBM PC and its brethren in the history books. Seen here is one such machine, the Canon AS-100, which sported an Intel 8088 CPU but was not an IBM PC clone (in other words, it could run MS-DOS, but was not hardware compatible with the PC).
Machines like this one tend to get overlooked historically because they were very expensive (this machine retailed for $3495 in 1983, or about $8,052 today) and they deviated from the emerging business standard of the IBM PC compatible. With those two elements combined, they sold relatively poorly — and, being business-oriented, they also never became notable gaming platforms (enthusiasm for retrogaming brings a lot of attention to certain classic PCs that otherwise might have been forgotten).
Speaking of gaming platforms, the color capabilities of this machine look amazing for 1983. I wonder if anyone ever did write a game for it that took advantage of those high-end graphical specs.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.36 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the most obscure computer model you've ever used? Something that you think no one has ever heard of.