Well summer is gone and with it all chances of catching up with projects. I must admit my time off for a trip to Alaska was enjoyable and I can recommend that people should see Alaska if possible. Trying to make up for the time lost and all the problems that happened after I got back may take some time to recover from however. System Overload I had promised to do some programming on the side this summer, and with that came the need to use Win95. I have moved from using Win 3.1 to WinNT at work and find that a rather nice change. I have not exhaustively tested DOS programs, but then the main ones I use all do work. That has been a very big surprise. I thought most would fail or do something strange, but it seems I was wrong. The Win95 actually installed very easily and I was surprised to find all my PCDOS 7.0 drivers were moved and used just as they had been before the change. NT however was installed by someone else at work and so I was unable to see what happens when you upgrade. I think WinNT blows all the old items away which causes many problems if there is not an NT driver for one of your devices. Win95 solved the driver problem, by basically using any previous drivers or better put, by just running a DOS under the win program so it still can use the DOS drivers without problem. I'm still trying to decide if there really is a good reason to do it if your happy with Win 3.1 or something else. A friend who I told not to upgrade feels he would not do it after what has happened or better put, what he had to relearn and reload. Seems he had lots of programs with 95 that didn't work right after the change. What I find interesting is how Microsoft is still hiding from the public how many bugs and problems have been quietly fixed with upgrades. With NT you see the “build” number when it boots. This is sort of their way of telling you which minor bug fix version you have. My guess is that there is some similar way to determine where in the bug fix loop your version of 95 is, but at present I really don't care since I know there isn't much you can do to try and keep up with the changes. I have heard there are plenty of revisions or upgrade packs for 95. Older Sales I was told by a friend that he saw someone selling a IMSAI with front panel for $4000, I think on the Internet. Everyone was giving the person a bad time about the price, only to have him tell them it was sold already. I think there are plenty of our readers who would agree with both sides of the issue on the price. By that I mean, some will think it is too much money, while others and myself say it is only the beginning. I expect to see similar stories over the next few years until the collecting side gets well established. What will it take to get established? I am sure a big sale at Sotherby's would do it. An IMSAI or such going for say a $100,000 would certainly make some headlines and send people scrambling. Do I really think it will happen, yes - but how long is the only question. It seems to me that collectibles sort of grow slowly in price till they are rather scarce. Once the availability of the items drops from thousands to hundreds or reach rare status, then and only then do people start bidding up the price. Are IMSAI's rare, yes and no. The yes side is from people hording their older systems and also from giving up on trying to sell them. That comes from so many people being interested in the latest hardware gimmick at swap meets, that selling something outside the normal is pretty much a waste of time. I haven't seen a S100 card for sale at a swap meet for years now. It is getting to be that most buyers have no idea of what the older systems were or if they have any value at all. For those of us who do know an IMSAI from a PC, a great find ing if they shouldn't have sold. The NO side of me says that IMSAI are not rare, people are just waiting. I know plenty of people who have numerous collectible systems stashed away. There is not a shortage, just people waiting for higher prices. If all goes well, I see a later time when there will be once or twice a year collectible computer swap meets. At first probably based on invitation to attend, just to make sure only vendors of older systems are there. If PC sellers are allowed, forget it, it will not work. I feel it would probably be possible to do one in Silicon Valley now and easily two or three hundred sellers could be found to come to it. You would get both the honest buyers and sellers as well as the media. Once the big TV shows stopped by and it hit national news, boom were in business and the 100K IMSAI would be but a few years down the road. The key is finding real collectible vendors willing to talk and display their systems. No junk piles, no boxes of bad boards, no systems without books and software. Of course you would need to let in the few people left who also support the old systems with magazines, software, and hardware fixes. It can't be some parking lot sale or some business back lot. You got to rent a real convention hall with guards, drinks, and vendor booths all which means some money up front. But be prepared to talk more than sell the first few years! Hardware Prices of new hardware keep dropping and for those using the PC platform, power and more has become very cheap. When I visited my cousin in Alaska, we talked Internet, and I offered to build them a system for $300. I could have bought several used 386 systems already setup for the Internet from local used dealers. I had however many pieces to make a system and at first was only going to buy a new case for them. A local dealer however had a few sales going and 300 became $600 for a 586 with a 16Meg SIMM and a 1 gig drive. I ran some tests and found the system very fast and was very surprised at the VLB video card. It was faster than my PCI bus video card. It seems the VLB is better tuned for video, while the PCI is a faster overall bus. The cost was $40 for the mother board, $60 for the 586, and $110 for the ram. I had planned on buying wholesale, but the 1 gig drives where going for less than my wholesale quotes. The drive got me in the store and then I found the other items and bought quick before they were gone. When looking at PC hardware items, it can seem that the PC market has gone crazy, but so have others. The embedded hardware sales literature keeps coming faster than I can read it. The people behind the PIC chips can't make new versions fast enough. Motorola is spinning off variations of their 6805 and 6811's like mad. I believe there is now a 80151 that fits in between the old standby 8051 and the new 80251 high end. Numerous Japanese vendors are making big inroads with their own chips as well. I think the only other area that has been getting more news than all the hardware vendors is the battle brewing over cheap Internet boxes. Several vendors are planning on having systems ready to sell by THIS Christmas. Cable companies are trying to get hardware in place and software on line to meet the hoped for demand. I think the demand will be there, but plenty of behind the scenes action has to happen first. There is more than enough people who feel that a melt down will happen if even half the people start getting on line that could now. What would happen if all the Christmas buyers really did buy and tried to get on is any bodies guess. My guess for this year is forget being on the Internet for all of January. Ask any BBS owner and they will tell you how the next few weeks after Christmas is a nightmare. All these first time users with their new modems learning how to use them on your BBS. Now take that concept and give them the Internet. Just plan on giving it to them, since you will not be able to use the Internet till they burnout or give up. Projects The project queue is very deep and got thrown off track over the summer. I had a few great plans to sort of catch up, but we lost three Llamas this summer to heat, two of my wife's relatives were buried, all in 45 days. Busy is an understatement for me. The hot weather is still lingering longer than normal and since my hardware shop has no cooling, I have been forced out of it for a little longer. What will I be doing? Number one on my list to do is hooking up my pile of S100 systems. I stacked them up in my shop next to the work table. I start with a hard drive, 3 tiers of 8 inch drives, two S-100 cabinets, and a 5 inch hard drive for a total of four feet of systems. I am thinking of using a Z-100 system as a terminal and disk interface. I have other ideas in mind for hooking them altogether, but it is still too early to know how that will actually be done. The idea is to be able to test some older hardware and get BIOS listings off of the many disks I have. The CP/M and TCJ CDROM is still in the works, just dragging behind a little. I think Dave is getting all the items working so the hard disk with the current CDROM software can be on his BBS. My plans are to add to that drive until we get a CDROM full. We will review the contents periodically and keep you posted. If you can add BIOS code or embedded software please help out. Remember however that DRI products are copyrighted and still not public domain. BIOS code in many cases was not protected, while some was and may still be even if the company has gone out of business. When a companies assets were bought by another, all copyrights normally went as well. My hopes are to put software on the BBS and if nobody complains after some reasonable amount of time, we can assume that sets a precedence, and we can then include it on the CDROM. If a rightful owner does complain, off it comes with our apologies and the CDROM will then indicate who does have the rights and where to mail letters if you need support. I suppose one way out would be to make sure that all text referring to copyright and ownership has been removed before we get it, but then that would not be legal. We do try to be legal at TCJ even if the companies make it very hard by refusing to allow releasing information that is needed to keep a system running 10 years after the company went of business. I had numerous plans in the wings and will try getting to them for later issues, but for now, keep hacking and let me know how your fun is going! Bill.