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JoeCard Manual & Software?

macuserman

Well-known member
Does anyone have the manuals or software for any of the metabox products? @Coloruser maybe? I've been trying to track them down and they seem to have vanished from the web can't find them on the repository or any other site I've checked. The Wayback Machine also provides no results links are dead at least despite being able to see what was available. Yes I know you can use other drivers, but just for the heck of it I'd like to find the original software, but also the dip switch settings from the manual would be super nice to get ahold of. Anyone?
 

macuserman

Well-known member
Sure, I will provide them in the next days.
Oh thank you so much! I was hoping you would reply saying you had this stuff, I have scoured the web but turned up jack squat on this. Which is crazy with how many metabox products were actually produced you would think this would be more available, but somehow these cards ended up being rare and the software and manuals non existent on the web.
 

Kabuki

New member
Oh Wow. I recently purchased a Powermac with a G3/400/1M JoeCard without having the proper Software in hand. I would really appreciate if I could get the driver as well !
Regards
 

macuserman

Well-known member
Oh Wow. I recently purchased a Powermac with a G3/400/1M JoeCard without having the proper Software in hand. I would really appreciate if I could get the driver as well !
Regards
Yep would be killer to get some of this stuff, I found this on the wayback machine but all links are dead now :(
1651757186025.png
 

macuserman

Well-known member
With regards to the software XLR8 software seems to work good which makes sense given XLR8 sued joecard for IP infringement on the software which is rumored to be why they exited the market. So the software is mostly just as a neat bit of info, the real prize here is the manuals, I can't find those anywhere and without them the switches are mysterious in purpose.
 

Coloruser

Active member
Indeed, the XLR8 and other Software work well with almost every aftermarket G3/G4 upgrade. Regarding the IP infringement - that was much disputed as there are not so many ways how to enable the cache. No matter what, that was not the reason why Met@box exited the market.

Short story: I´ve started with them (at that time they were called PIOS) in 1996 as the "Mac" man while the other staff was focused on CHRP and a new Amiga successor based on basically the same dual 603e CHRP design - sans Apple-specific chips. But they needed cash and thus, we started with clone manufacturing (Keenya -> Tanzania based, Magna -> Storm Surge based) in parallel. Then in 1997, we created a Mach 5 (604r) CPU card for Tsunami/TNT etc. with up to 350Mhz (up to 400Mhz in the lab) and started selling the card as well as the Clones equipped with either our own card or newertech 604 and later G3 cards. But the Clone days were over at the latest in 1998 when the last boards were sold and the Amiga clone was still a prototype - however, one that made the switch from dual 603e to single G3. In the meantime, Pios both changed name and directions. Pios got Met@box and the new focus was to build set-top boxes and create an ecosystem around them. They had a clever technology called BOT (broadcast on television) that used the blanking on the TV signal to send data to the set-top boxes - slow, but 24/7. An editorial team created a web experience with news and entertainment (Met@TV) and only when you want to retrieve stuff that wasn´t on the 500mb HD of the box, you had to use a dial-up connection to connect to the internet. In the meantime, Thomas and I moved from the Mach 5 to G3 and later G4 to create CPU upgrade cards. We later moved to ZIF and L2 upgrades. In the early beginning, we were quite competitive and innovative with bus-speed and delay switches, but later towards the late 90s and early 2000, the majority of the RnD power went into a new project called Phoenix. Hopes were that the successor (based on Motorola Cold Fire CPUs and a dedicated OS) of the initial two boxes would be the breakthrough. However, the Phoenix box or Met@box 1000 never made it to the market. At this time (2000), the german Met@box set up a US subsidiary. Based on the fact that the Met@box C-Level was based on Ex Erikkson/Ex Commodore-Amiga staff, they had good relations to the US. Two main developers of the original Amiga were also involved in the Pios/Met@box Amiga Clones and later the Phoenix. But, the joeCARD and the little brother, the littleJoe (my name is J. from Johann - short: Joe. My co-developer´s and my name are silkscreened on the StorSurge CPU littleJoe and joeCARD) were quite expensive for the US market. No wonder, as we bought CPUs and Cache Ram in the US, imported them to Germany, manufactured here and then sold to the US. In addition, the margin was always kept quite high as the Phoenix RnD needed cash flow (and more investments from investors) and the overhead in the company increased week by week. That staff needed to be paid. We were less than 10 guys 1996 and ended up with more than 200 just a couple of years later. However, the Mac Devision sales dwindled down as there was no more RnD. We never brought the Alchemy/Gazelle L2 Card to the market and our Sawtooth and later G4 upgrades newver made it past the prototype workbench. All we did was live on heritage and there was still some hope by the Amiga guys to get the next amiga ready and that Phoenix will save us all - Phoenix from ashes.....

In 2001, the new stock market overheated and the company was listed on this stock market since its inception. The climate got rougher and after some bad news regarding mismanagement, constant losses and obviously fraudulent ad hoc news, the stock collapsed. The prosecution followed suit and in 2001, the company went bankrupt.
 
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Coloruser

Active member
But as @macuserman said, the manual is the golden prize. And I have good news, I still have all the documentation here on a shelf next to my lovely Mac Plus :)
 

Attachments

  • Manual International high.pdf
    3.5 MB · Views: 14
  • Typologie.pdf
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macuserman

Well-known member
But as @macuserman said, the manual is the golden prize. And I have good news, I still have all the documentation here on a shelf next to my lovely Mac Plus :)
Wow! Thanks so much, that manual is a treasure for sure. Just downloaded it and saved it in a few places. I may have some questions after I study it! Any chance you have the software kicking around as well?

Indeed, the XLR8 and other Software work well with almost every aftermarket G3/G4 upgrade. Regarding the IP infringement - that was much disputed as there are not so many ways how to enable the cache. No matter what, that was not the reason why Met@box exited the market.
Hope I didn't offend with my comment, was just parroting what I read on the inter webs....

But, the joeCARD and the little brother, the littleJoe (my name is J. from Johann - short: Joe. My co-developer´s and my name are silkscreened on the StorSurge CPU littleJoe and joeCARD) were quite expensive for the US market
So your Joe from Joecard? Now that is a nifty bit of trivia super nice to meet you, I've often wished that some of the dev info from back when these cards were being produced were recoverable, schematics, board designs, firmware etc. It's to much to ask that currently existing companies like Sonnet would open source it, and the defunct companies I'm sure that info was just lost into the ether. But it sure is neat to meet on of the developers, very cool, cool indeed.
 

Kabuki

New member
Very interesting and nice to meet you guys.
There is still a bit of hope as I'm in contact with the original owner of my PowerMac. He bought the machine in 1996 and in addition the JoeCard around 2000. He told me that he believes the Metabox Floppy should be in a box somewhere in his attic. If he finds it, he will send me the floppy. Idk which version this will be but at least an original JoeCard driver disk. If the floppy is still readable is a different chapter. 🤞
 

Coloruser

Active member
Very interesting and nice to meet you guys.
There is still a bit of hope as I'm in contact with the original owner of my PowerMac. He bought the machine in 1996 and in addition the JoeCard around 2000. He told me that he believes the Metabox Floppy should be in a box somewhere in his attic. If he finds it, he will send me the floppy. Idk which version this will be but at least an original JoeCard driver disk. If the floppy is still readable is a different chapter. 🤞
Floppy? JoeCARDs and littleJoes have always been shipped with a CD. These days it´s also not so easy to find a Mac able to read CDs (except in this forum)
 

Coloruser

Active member
Wow! Thanks so much, that manual is a treasure for sure. Just downloaded it and saved it in a few places. I may have some questions after I study it! Any chance you have the software kicking around as well?


Hope I didn't offend with my comment, was just parroting what I read on the inter webs....


So your Joe from Joecard? Now that is a nifty bit of trivia super nice to meet you, I've often wished that some of the dev info from back when these cards were being produced were recoverable, schematics, board designs, firmware etc. It's to much to ask that currently existing companies like Sonnet would open source it, and the defunct companies I'm sure that info was just lost into the ether. But it sure is neat to meet on of the developers, very cool, cool indeed.
Yes, I am the Joe from "joeCARD" or "littleJoe". Don´t worry, I did not feel offended at all. You´re not the first one to link the crash of Met@box USA to this. Most guys simply don´t know the whole story behind it. Once Met@box even had it´s own business plane (a twin-turboprop) and over the course of the years, they "burned" something like 120 million euros from the shareholders. The shareholders had to write it all off. I once had RSUs worth half a million Euros and then from one day to another, their value dropped to .70 €. The CEO of Met@box was later sent to jail. He appealed but to no avail.

There was also a strong link between Pios/Met@box and Village Tronic (which makes sense given their Amiga heritage). One of the main Villagetronic RnD guys came on board in 2000 (I think). Sadly he died just a few weeks after Met@box declared bankruptcy. A coincidence? I don´t know.

Attached is the pure driver and - for collectors - the complete CD content.

Unfortunately, when Met@box went bankrupt and filed for chapter 11 (it´s treated differently in Germany than in the US), the Mac Business was already quite a lame duck. Nobody was really interested in buying any assets (except some motherboards etc.). The schematics and other IP went into the trash latest in 2002 when the remaining company was completely dissolved.

I can - if someone really wants this - send at least my last prototype StormSurge card to Bolle if he wants to "recreate" a new one. On the other hand, there are thousands of Powerlogix or Newer Cards still floating around. Those G3/G4 accelerators are not such a rarity as the Brainstorm 16 Mhz in my Mac Plus :)
 

Attachments

  • Met@box CD.zip
    39.2 MB · Views: 5
  • joeCARD Installer US v.3.zip
    546.5 KB · Views: 2
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macuserman

Well-known member
Don´t worry, I did not feel offended at all. You´re not the first one to link the crash of Met@box USA to this. Most guys simply don´t know the whole story behind it.
Man thanks so much for sharing all that history it’s fascinating stuff. And also for the files too!! That’s awesome. These stories are gold.

For whatever it’s worth the article I was parroting was this one from Macworld https://www.macworld.com/article/161008/metabox-2.html


Major bummer about all the Metabox IP but I sorta figured as much. :(
 

Coloruser

Active member
Dave Haynie had a part in Met@box, so no surprises with the Amiga connections.
Yes, Dave Haynie, Andy Finkel and Peter Kittel. They worked on the genuine Pios hardware platform that resulted in Maxxtrem (CHRP) and TransAm (Amiga). In addition, the CEO worked for Commodore/Amiga. Maxxtrem was axed by Steve Job‘s return and the end of cloning. TransAm was also never released. Haynie and Finkel later collaborated on the Phoenix project that was - as mentioned before - never commercialized. Pios/Met@box HQ was in Hildesheim just 50km away from Braunschweig - where Commodore once hat their factory. Thus, talent and production know how was easy to find.
 

mg.man

Well-known member
I can - if someone really wants this - send at least my last prototype StormSurge card to Bolle if he wants to "recreate" a new one.
Tagging both @Bolle and @max1zzz - both I'm sure would love this - but @Bolle might be super busy atm? I sent my Interware Booster 30 to @max1zzz recently for just this purpose:


...so he might have some spare cycles... 😀
 

Coloruser

Active member
Tagging both @Bolle and @max1zzz - both I'm sure would love this - but @Bolle might be super busy atm? I sent my Interware Booster 30 to @max1zzz recently for just this purpose:


...so he might have some spare cycles... 😀
let’s see 😉

but as said, there are plenty of Tsunami/Nitro/TNT/StormSurge etc. upgrade cards around. They are not really a rarity and as such most likely not worth the efforts.
 

max1zzz

Well-known member
How complex are the cards? (I'm not imminently familiar with their design)
As much as I would love to reverse engineer one they are probably beyond my skillset at the moment as I have no experience working with anything running nearly as fast as they upgrade cards would (and I suspect the board layout becomes much more important at those speeds)

got any pictures of it? :)
 

Coloruser

Active member
How complex are the cards? (I'm not imminently familiar with their design)
As much as I would love to reverse engineer one they are probably beyond my skillset at the moment as I have no experience working with anything running nearly as fast as they upgrade cards would (and I suspect the board layout becomes much more important at those speeds)

got any pictures of it? :)
here you go......
 

Attachments

  • IMG_20220509_0001.jpg
    IMG_20220509_0001.jpg
    6.7 MB · Views: 12
  • joeCARD_Front.JPG
    joeCARD_Front.JPG
    6 MB · Views: 12
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