ENTERPRISE KLUB
Előfizetés a 2018-as évre
RÉSZLETEK és ELŐFIZETÉS
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.


Author Topic: Q&A with Werner Lindner (technical director of the ENTERPRISE Computers GmbH) (Read 32126 times)

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Windows 7/Server 2008 R2
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
Our latest member is a very important person of the Enterprise history!

As he has a lot of work and has no time to answer a lot of questions directly on the forum, he asked me as "speaker" to publish the discussed information here.

First of all here is his introduction:
Quote from: WernerLindner
I 've registred for your great website/forum two days ago, after stumbling over it just by accident. I already spent several hours with surfing through the forum and reading a lot of interesting stuff. I was astonished to find people like Bruce Tanner, Peter Hiner or Tim Box here after all that time and a lot of fantastic memories came up into my mind.

Just something about my person:
I have been working for ENTERPRISE Computers GmbH in Munich from 1986 till it's liquidation in 1997. In the beginning (I was student at that time) I was responsible for end users and for the technical support of the office staff there. In 1987 (after the liquidation of ENTERPRISE UK) my task was to contact all the manufacturers and suppliers which were involved in the production of the Enterprise 64/128 and ancillaries. I personally travelled to England several times, visiting all the companies and trying to find out, whether it would be possible to start a production of the computer again.

Later I became technical director of the company. I was involved in the various ENTERPRISE projects in the USSR (Moscow, Almaty, Dhezgazkhan - all between 1989 and 1992). I had a very good contact to Vilmos Kopacsy from á-Studio at that time and spent several weeks together with him in Almaty to set up the first school networks.
« Last Edit: 2015.March.17. 12:28:41 by szipucsu »

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Windows 7/Server 2008 R2
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
The first question: do you know how many machnies were sold in Germany and in other countries? We already know machines sold in the UK, Germany, Hungary (more than 20000), the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, France, Egypt (4000) and Soviet Union (3000).

Quote from: WernerLindner
As for the sold machines in every country I really have to admit, that I do not know exact figures in any case. My work for ENTERPRISE Germany started, when UK was already closed. In the beginning I was responsible for end user support and I did some training - as far as hard-/software is concerned - for the new sales people. New, because the original staff of Germany was also fired by Lachu Mathani in autumn 1986. These people had promised to be able to sell thousands of computers in Germany, but managed only about 2.500 in appr. one year. Because of their promises ENTERPRISE UK had produced a lot of German EC128k machines and Lachu had them in stock now (his company Broadlight Ltd. had taken over all of the remaining ENTERPRISE stock).
 
There is a lot of paperword missing, especially as far as sales figures is concerned and therefore all quantities before autumn 1986 are just estimations:
 
Germany:
Appr. 2500 128k machines and a very small number of ENTERPRISE 64k (both by ENTERPRISE Computers GmbH) and a very small number of Mephisto PHC (via Hegener & Glaser). In fact: I have only seen one Mephisto BASIC Cartridge and one Mephisto PHC, that came in for repair.
 
Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, France, Spain and probably other western european countries:
ENTERPRISE UK had direct dealer contracts with one importer for each country, but these people had only small companies. In fact they were more ordinary dealers but real importers/distributors and therefore there is probably only a small number of machines in each of those countries - a few hundred maybe in each country. The import and contact stopped in almost all cases after ENTERRPRISE UK went into receivership.
 
In Germany we had only contact to the people in Denmark and the Netherlands. I talked to the guy from the Netherlands several times by phone and met him once, when he came to Munich to buy 12 machines from us. He showed us some hardware prototypes from his country: An internal 512kByte Memory Expansion with dynamic RAM and a small EXDOS controller, that was stacked on top of the computer (shown on ENTERFACE 198704-05).
 
As far as Denmark is concerned, I had contact to Anders Roar Nielsen. He and his brother were the heads of the local user group and made a lot of things for the ENTERPRISE. Apart from nice programs and system extension (like the cards extension) they'd made a modem card and software for the ENTERPRISE. With this package the computer could be used as a BBS (there was neither internet nor email at this time :-) ).
 
Egypt:
The Egypt importer was Computer Technical Co. in Cairo. The founder and M.D. was Mr. Nabil Lashine. He had already bought about 500 ENTERPRISE 64k machines from England. He imported them to Egypt and sold them as electronic typewriters to other companies. He was not interested in games or other ancillaries, because he couldn't sell them (nobody in Egypt could afford a home computer for private purposes at that time). He made his own software for the computer and did the green keyboard print by himself. He bought additional 64k machines from us, but there was only appr. one shipment per year and not more than 150 machines (25 boxes á 6 computers). He also got appr. 500 empty cartridges from us. He always payed with monthly cheques. Sometimes it took long to get the money, but he was very reliable. His last order was in 1993, last contact to him in 1994. At this time his company was in big trouble and his bank had the hands on his remaining stock of EC machines. I've never heard of him afterwards, but I still have a complete set of printed keys, that he gave me while he was visiting us in Munich. All in all I think that 4000 units is too much - I personally know only about 1500 units, incl. the machines from England (but maybe Latchu has sold something to him directly).
 
About Hungary and the countries of the former Soviet Union:
These are both very special stories. I do not know all the details and I would like to ask a good friend of mine, who made these contracts, before I'm going to tell you anything wrong. I will also ask him about the total number of stock computers in England, because I cannot remember this figure at the moment.
 
England:
I have no idea about the total number of sold machines there but I assume, that they have not sold more than 25.000 units. The people of GRI Ltd told me, that they have produced something around 45.000 machines (64 and 128k engl./german). I do not know the production figures of the former producer (between 10/84-06/85), but the overall output was very low in 84 and they produced a lot of scrap too, which forced ENTERPRISE to look for a different manufacturer finally. The people of GRI told me a lot more (Communication problems, problems with supply of parts and materials, big problems with the test gear and all in all a much to expensive production due to the design of the machine and a lot of manual work, like memory expansion, ...), but  this is also a separate story, that has to be told later.

Quote from: WernerLindner
In 1996/7 there was a remaining stock of appr. 2000 ENTERPRISE computers (64k, 128k UK and 128K German), which we sold to a company in the czech republic. Together with these computers went almost all ancillaries (cables, cassette programs, disk drives, tools, test gear, ...) and that was the official end of ENTERPRISE Computers GmbH as you know them.
« Last Edit: 2015.March.17. 12:31:11 by szipucsu »

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows XP Windows XP
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
Next question: what do you know about the Nick chip problems and different versions (08-04/08-47)?

Quote from: WernerLindner
Now something to NICK/DAVE:
The people of IS/ENTERPRISE contacted AMI in 1983. AMI representatives said to me, that these people came into their office with just two handwired prototypes of "something" and told them, that they would need to custom chips out of it. Neither where there concrete drawings/plans of these chips, nor was the design a final one. Obviously the IS people never had done something like that before. They did not know, that it is not possible, to take a circuit with standard parts and IC's and make a 1:1 copy of it in silicon. The AMI people had to model the standard parts of the prototypes with a much bigger number of "low level" logical gates. At that time there was nothing like today's configurable logic (FPGA, CPLD, ...).
 
Therefore the very first design of the DAVE-chip (it was called ESPRIT at this time and AMI kept the name throughout the whole production) was ready in August/September 1983. The first (and faulty) design of NICK (ELITE) was ready in November 1983. It is not known, when the first prototypes arrived in London, but they were not really working as expected. Until october 1984 ESPRIT underwent 5 major revisions and ELITE had four revisions till both reached the actual state, that we know as 08-05 resp. 08-47.

NICK Problem 08-04:
As far as I know there is no chance of fixing the problem with this revision by external hardware (neither cooler, nor fast video-ram will help). Only the late D-Revision of the chip was stable.


The chip code names really surprise for me!

Offline lgb

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 3450
  • Country: hu
  • æðsta yfirmaður
  • OS:
  • Linux (Ubuntu) Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://lgb.hu/
One of my fixations :) is to try to get information about the "future" Enterprise, features can't get into the Ep64/Ep128 (because of lack of enough time, money, whatever) and also "only ideas". This can be important, as nowdays' technology makes it possible to re-create EP (or even an EP v2.0) by hobby, but for advanced features over the original Ep design, it would be great to know the ideas of the original creators and people behind the Ep, to have something which at least seems to be the natural evolution of the Ep product line. Or something like this :) Of course this includes documentations, ideas, stories, hardware and software as well, so basically everything. Since Werner also wrote that he knew Kopacsy, maybe he also knows something about the "Super EP"?

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Windows 7/Server 2008 R2
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
Please be patient! :-) A lot of interesting and amazing things will come :-D
« Last Edit: 2015.March.17. 12:32:58 by szipucsu »

Offline lgb

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 3450
  • Country: hu
  • æðsta yfirmaður
  • OS:
  • Linux (Ubuntu) Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://lgb.hu/
Please be patient! :-) Will coming many interesting and amazing things :-D

OK, I thought one of the purposes of this forum thread is to collect questions from forum members as well, that's why I've written my own. :)
« Last Edit: 2015.March.17. 10:54:12 by lgb »

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows XP Windows XP
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
About the manufacturers I asked it: on some motherboards no sticker, another ones have a sticker with different names: AEL, FLHK, E&E
Do you know anything about these?

Quote from: WernerLindner
E&E: http://www.eleceltek.com/en/aboutus.php
Most of the motherboards were made by OPC:
http://www.hkexporter.net/electronic/circuit/opc-manufacturing.html
 
So, in principle: Almost all Motherboards (EXDOS and the cartridges too) came from far east and AMI shipped the production lots to Hong Kong, That ist also the reason, that there were no significant stocks of unsoldered NICK/DAVE-Chips in England.
 
AEL and FLHK is out of my mind at the moment, but I have a copy of the ENTERPRISE code-book (the bible of all parts, that ENTERPRISE ever used). Probably I can find something there. Please be patient.

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Windows 7/Server 2008 R2
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
About the Enterprise hard disk we read what Mr. Kopácsy told in an interview in 1991. But never knew any more :-(
Until few years ago when we found this on Adrian Graham's page. This is the first evidence! Later Adrian sent me the ROM image of the hard disk exansion.

Now I asked Werner about it:

Quote from: WernerLindner
This design is from 1989 and used two small PCB's. One for my Minibus-Expansion-system (which is described in ENTER-NEWS 1/88) and a smaller one for the hdd-controller-card. There was a flat ribbon cable between the two PCB's. Unfortunately I have only two prototypes (wire-wrapped) of this expansion system anymore, but my exdos-controller from 1986 fits to it. The Minibus-System was expanded later and got the name Motherboard-Extension-Bus: There was a driver board, which fitted to an EXDOS-Controller case and a 50pin ribbon-cable to a 19" box with power-supply and backplane. The harddisk and the controller were in this 19" box. Unfortunately only the computer-side of the project survived. Both systems were no commercial "success", because the overall number of users, who were interested in this system was too low. So there were only three or four handmade samples.
 
What is on the website is the prototype design of the harddisk- and memory-expansion-pcb for the teacher machines of 70 school networks for the Dhezgazkhan region in Kasakhstan. We needed one PCB, that contained the memory expansion with 256 kByte of static ram, the socket for the existing EXDOS-controllers and the socket for the SEAGATE Controller (ST11-R). The design, testing and production of the 70 units was done in Hungary. Vilmos Kopacsy has organised it.

Werner sent me the Technical manual of the hard disk system. It includes schematics so it is possible to recreate it :-)
« Last Edit: 2015.March.17. 12:37:24 by szipucsu »

Online gflorez

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 2024
  • Country: es
  • OS:
  • Windows XP Windows XP
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
It seems that this is the time when all the raw truth is revealed....

Offline geco

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 4578
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Linux Linux
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 31.0 Firefox 31.0
    • View Profile
Thank you very much Werner these great info, we are waiting next part :)

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows XP Windows XP
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
Little piece of the history, but very interesting:

Quote from: WernerLindner
We at ENTERPRISE Germany used a PC based Compiler for our developments. Code was written with a text editor, we also had batch files for the compilation and we used Eprom simulators for testing the extensions roms on the ENTERPRISE. The simulators were connected to the sockets within a cartridge or to a socket on an expansion board via a ribbon cable. It was very easy: Write the code, compile it, send it to the simulator via LPT-copy, reset the Enterprise and look what happens.

Offline geco

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 4578
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Linux Linux
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 31.0 Firefox 31.0
    • View Profile
It means the source was written and compiled on PC and the compiled code was sent via PC Parallel port to the simulator?

Offline Zozosoft

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 12617
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Windows 7/Server 2008 R2
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • http://enterprise.iko.hu/
It means the source was written and compiled on PC and the compiled code was sent via PC Parallel port to the simulator?
Yes.

Offline geco

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 4578
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Linux Linux
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 31.0 Firefox 31.0
    • View Profile
Yes.
Amazing, what a great idea, and solution.

Offline szipucsu

  • EP addict
  • *
  • Posts: 6613
  • Country: hu
  • OS:
  • Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Windows 7/Server 2008 R2
  • Browser:
  • Firefox 36.0 Firefox 36.0
    • View Profile
    • Webnyelv.hu - Tanuljunk nyelveket!
Amazing, what a great idea, and solution.
What could a simulator be like?