RE: Old PC Technology (too long, sorry)

Subject: RE: Old PC Technology (too long, sorry)
From: "Poshedly, Ken" <PoshedlyK -at- polysius -dot- com>
To: "Simon North" <Simon -dot- North -at- quintiq -dot- com>, <sintac -at- home -dot- nl>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, <michael -dot- mcintyre -at- rosegardenmusic -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2007 10:55:42 -0500


I can only admire your considerably more experience than what I had.

Regarding your PC-XT clone, you mentioned pushing RAM up to 1 mb. For
those who don't remember or didn't know to begin with, PC's were shipped
with only 64 kilobytes of RAM for quite awhile. This is anecdotal, but
I've heard it so many times . . .

My first employer here in Atlanta (spring of '84) was Quadram Corp,
which , along with AST Computers out in California, were the two big
names I recall that offered PC peripherals, including memory expansion

Quadram's product was the "Quadboard" and it provided 4 functions:
* A battery powered clock-calendar
* A serial port
* A parallel port
* Enough RAM to bring your PC up to 640 kilobytes, which was the ceiling
at the time. (It could be configured with varying amounts of RAM to
accommodate various PC's.)

But in 1985, Quadram was one of the first companies that used the
then-new LIM Spec (Lotus-Intel-Microsoft) to release a plug-in board
that allowed you to surpass the 640K limit. The Quadram product was
called the "Liberty-PC" board (since it freed your pc from the bounds of
640 K). It used paged memory (in 64K "pages" of data that were assembled
"on the fly" to provide this unheard of amount of RAM in a lowly PC).
The Liberty-PC card could be populated with enough DRAM chips to take
your PC up to 8 megabytes - previously unheard of back in those days.

But alas, after a number of other really innovative products, market
conditions and some internal goof-ups resulted in the eventual demise of
what was a really great place to work.

-- Ken in Atlanta

-----Original Message-----
From: Simon North [mailto:Simon -dot- North -at- quintiq -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 9:53 AM
To: sintac -at- home -dot- nl; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com; Poshedly, Ken;
michael -dot- mcintyre -at- rosegardenmusic -dot- com
Subject: Old PC Technology (too long, sorry)

Well, pull up a sandbag ....

My first computer was a ZX81, it had 8K ROM and 1K RAM running at 3.25
My stepfather bought an Apple II and an Apple IIe to go into business as
an independent accountant. I can remember the excitement when we bought
the first dot matrix printer.

In 1972, when I went to study CS at university we were taught Fortran IV
on an IBM System/360-67; it ran CP/CMS which to our delight was quite
easy to crash (not so much fun for all the local industries that
time-shared on it).
I think my
class was the first to get real-time access, through a teletype printer
(we didn't have CRTs yet), while normal work was done on punch cards.

I got into tech writing in aerospace. At Dunlop, writers wrote in pencil
and it was typed up by the typing pool. At Lucas Aerospace we had 2
turnkey Diamond
systems (it had a native Pascal compiler that was really cool).

My first PC was an IBM PC-XT clone (math co-processor chip, 10 MB
Seagate hard disk, Hercules graphics card and a Rampage Above Board RAM
extension card pushing the RAM to 1 MB) , followed by a Compaq. As I
remember, and memories are unreliable, I built it myself and paid about
$4000 for the hardware. The HP LaserJet printer came out at about the
same time, which was a nightmare as they refused to release any
documentation about their PCL (it was ASCII based, and we were
documenting using IBM DisplayWrite, which was EBCDIC for mainframe

compatibility). To justify text using WP 4.2 you had to manually correct
by adding spaces (that's why I needed to see the codes so much).

I was working for the European Space Agency at the time, where I
installed TeX on the mainframe; it was either that or carry on
documenting using

DSR (runoff) - remember it? That was the year the Atari ST came out;
boy, the graphics on that were nice. We did wireframe animations

solar panel deployment sequences) using stop-frame capture to a video
recorder. That was real fun.

Gem, Windows 3.0, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 3.11, 95, 98, NT,
2000, XP, Vista. Got Word for Windows, Word 6, Word think-of-a-number,

Doc-to-Help, RoboHelp ... Interleaf came and went (I miss it still, and
the wonderful things you could do with Lisp). SGML came and went (I
soooo miss DSSSL). Frame came, and is still lingering. HyperCard died,
but HTML came ... I hope it goes soon. HyTime was stillborn (sob, sob)
and we got XML and XSLT instead ... sigh. Sometimes I think we're
actually going backwards.


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Old PC Technology (was: RE: certification; was: ranting STC): From: Poshedly, Ken
Old PC Technology (too long, sorry): From: Simon North

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