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Albert Computer - Apple II clone and then some.


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#1 snuci

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:05 PM

Rather then clog up the eBay Finds thread with Albert computer information, I figured I'd make a new post in the appropriate area.

 

olePigeon wrote:

 

I was wondering why it only had 4 slots, but then I noticed it comes with the serial & parallel built in.  Does it have 80 column as well?

 

 

The Albert computer doesn't have 80 column support but it does have built-in Taxan hi-res RGB.  I'm going to scan the manual but it's got some cool features including...

 

- Apple Compatibility (of course)

- 64k RAM

- Upper and Lower case

- RS 232 serial

- Networking capability via RS 422/423

- Parallel printer port

- Data Security lock... "You can write a simple program to prevent others from seeing your data for example, by making background and text the same color"  :)

- Battery/Charger backup (my battery is missing, thank God)

- Digitized audio control and output

- RGB graphics - high res color graphics (140 x 192 pixels of 256 hues)

- Graphics power pad (Koala Pad came with it)

- Calendar/clock)

- Transportability (you can operate at 110 volt (50/60 Hz) or 8 through 32 volt DC for international applications (you find an adapter in your country).

 

Pretty cool features for that time period.  Mine is also hacked to be an Apple II (it was probably vveeerrryyy easy to do).

 

If you didn't follow the previous eBay Finds thread, pics of it are here:  http://vintagecomput...lbert-computer/

 



#2 Gorgonops

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:34 PM

Man, I'd totally love to find one of those in a dumpster, but then I'm fascinated by "clone" computers that are clones of things other than IBM PCs.

(The ultimate holy grail for me would probably be a TRS-80 clone, like an LNW-80 or PMC System 80/Video Genie, but they're rare as hen's teeth.)



#3 snuci

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:50 PM

(The ultimate holy grail for me would probably be a TRS-80 clone, like an LNW-80 or PMC System 80/Video Genie, but they're rare as hen's teeth.)

 

 

How about a Lobo Systems Max-80?  Still hoping to find the matching floppy drives one day.



#4 Gorgonops

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:39 AM

A Max-80 would be cool, sure. Given the choice I'd still lean toward an LNW-80, though, if only to play with the "high res" graphics. ;)

 

(I also vaguely recall that the Max-80 had some compatibility gotchyas, like a not-directly-compatible disk controller, that limited you to certain DOSes, specifically LDOS. Not to say that I wouldn't take one home if I saw one, don't get me wrong.)



#5 ScutBoy

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 01:18 AM

How about a Lobo Systems Max-80?  Still hoping to find the matching floppy drives one day.

 

I think I have a Lobo floppy drive on one of my Apple ][s. Is that something you would be interested in? I can get pics if you wish.



#6 snuci

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 01:42 AM

I think I have a Lobo floppy drive on one of my Apple ][s. Is that something you would be interested in? I can get pics if you wish.

 

I don't think those drives are compatible.  Lobo was a drive manufacturer and they also made clone Apple II drives.  I have seen those pop up once in a while.  The lack of documentation  prevents me from trying a regular drive at this point.  At some point, I'll take some time an work on it.  I appreciate the offer all the same.



#7 Gorgonops

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 02:08 AM

Yeah, I was about to reply that the Apple II drive wasn't going to work myself. (Unless it came with a special controller, that is. The Max-80 uses conventional Shugart-interface floppy drives.)

The manual for the Max-80 is available here, it looks like it uses the same 34 pin card edge as most computers of its vintage. If you have any other TRS-80s (including the Color Computer) with an external drive said drive should be directly compatible, and the information to adopt floppy drives set up for IBM PCs to the TRS-80 is readily available. Here's a link on how to cook up a cable to connect standard PC 3.5" floppy drives; they'll only work in low density mode, of course... although in theory on a MAX-80 you *might* be able to run them at full capacity on the 8" drive port. That might be an interesting exercise...

 

(For old *double density* 5 1/4" drives pulled out of PC clones you can usually hook them straight up to a cable with appropriate 34 pin card edge connectors crimped down to it, you just need to change a jumper that modifies the behavior of the READY line; IBM did something skanky with it to allow the PC to detect if a disk were changed unexpectedly. Old drives let you revert to the "standard" behavior, but drives made near the end of production are usually hardwired to the PC behavior and need a little help.)



#8 snuci

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 03:07 AM

Thanks Gorgonops.

 

I had the Tech manual already but not the floppy cable doc.  I do have a couple of 8" drives but don't have my floppy creation set up yet.   I have a TRS-80 floppy drive or two so that may work.  Creating those floppies is the issue right now.

 

I'm trying to get the most efficient floppy creation system.  I have a Kryoflux, appropriate drives, an Adaptec AHA-1542 controller, the 8" disk FDADAP floppy disk adapter.  Just need the time to put it together.  I have lots of floppies I need to image.
 



#9 snuci

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:01 PM

For anyone who might be curious, I posted the Albert computer User's Manual here:  http://vintagecomput...ners-Manual.pdf



#10 Gorgonops

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 05:30 PM

I have a TRS-80 floppy drive or two so that may work.  Creating those floppies is the issue right now.

You should be able to use just about any PC with the apropriate-sized floppy drive to create images for a MAX-80, I believe. Pretty sure it can boot double-density, which is usually the big hangup for making disks for the TRS-80 Model I.

 

(I do sort of wonder where you find an image of the apropos version of LDOS for the MAX-80. There's a thread on the VCF where someone says they found it on Tim Mann's site; I see CP/M there, but not MAX-80 LDOS. Granted organization is a little bit of an issue with that page.)

Tim Mann's site also has some manuals for the MAX-80, if you haven't found them yet. The description of the floppy wiring in the user's manual regarding drives configured for the TRS-80 is probably really confusing. To cut to the chase: You know how PC floppy cables have that twist in them so one can be A: and the other B: simply by switching plugs on the cable? Radio Shack did something like that with their floppy cables (if you look at a Tandy floppy cable you'll see how each edge connector for the drives is missing different teeth) so the user wouldn't have to open the drive boxes and change jumpers. It works, but the hack is incompatible with double-sided floppy drives. The instructions in the manual are explaining how to undo the hackery to revert the cabling to Shugart standard, which of course *does* require that each drive be jumpered appropriately for its position in the chain.

 

Ultimately the takeaway is that I'm relatively confident that if you have a TRS-80 drive box *with its matching cable* lying around it should work with the MAX-80 as-is. You don't need to go hacking unless you want to mix double-sided drives onto the same chain.

(The drive boxes I have for my Model I were hacked, by me, over 20 years ago to use straight-through cables in the manner the MAX-80 manual recommends; in two of the boxes I discarded the original single-sided drives and replaced them with double-sided drives pulled from an IBM 5150, complete with the embossed IBM logo. Of course, today, I sort of regret that the originals are lost to time... but at the time it was pretty awesome to be able to have OVER 800K! of storage online with one single-sided boot drive, two double-sided data drives, and a double-density board. Considering most TRS-80 software programs consume less than 20k of disk space it's was practically like having a hard disk.)


Edited by Gorgonops, 22 February 2017 - 05:30 PM.





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