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Author Topic: Q&A with Werner Lindner (technical director of the ENTERPRISE Computers GmbH) (Read 38862 times)

Offline BruceTanner

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It is little strange to me, why did this :oops: I think 4x8K EPROMs and PCB will more expensive than one 32K EPROM :shock:

Bruce! Do you have any memories about this? The schematic are from the IS.

No I don't, but I wouldn't necessarily have heard about things like this. But I think we're at the limits of economic technology at the time and 27128s were really only just appearing, even 64s seemed big!


Offline NoP

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Wow, this topic is pure gold. Thank you, Mr. Lindner!

Offline Zozosoft

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Some additional documents of the robot.
http://docs.fischertechnikclub.nl/computing/39461.pdf

And some words about the Enterprise configuration on the photos:
Quote from: WernerLindner
The EC on the pictures including all the peripherals was the demonstration machine in our office. The big station to the right of the computer is the 30MB harddisc station with built-in 5.25" fdd. On top of the Cub RGB monitor there is a Cumana 3.5" double-disk-drive. This harddisc is the one which survived and once it is back in operation (power supply) I will present it to you in detailed pictures.

Offline Zozosoft

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Something interesting coming soon, especially for SlashNet :-)
12402-012404-112406-2

Offline SlashNet

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Wow. :smt023
Symbols on keyboard not only cyrillic.
Additional symbols (on numeric keys) is from kazakh alphabet:

Offline Zozosoft

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Yes, it is from Алма-Ата schools projects.
Character set:
12408-0

Offline SlashNet

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Ouch. Very ugly font. :(
I hoped that it was 256-character table, but it only 128-characters.

Interesting how they made switching of keyboard layout?
CAPS+LOCK - English big letters, NORM - Cyr small characters, ALT - Cyr big letters?
Or they change KB driver?

Offline Zozosoft

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I hoped that it was 256-character table, but it only 128-characters.
For a 256 characters mode need to write new video driver.

Quote
Or they change KB driver?
Yes. Normal and SHIFT mode write small and big cyrillic letters. ALT for big english letters, numbers and symbols.

Offline Zozosoft

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Firstly some stories from Werner:
Quote from: WernerLindner
The story about the cyrilic cartridge is a special one. Although I will give you the full story later I can tell you, that we had to do it in less than 5 months. In early summer 1989 there was a computer exhibition (or a technical exhibition) in Budapest. Vilmos and we took part with our products and a company called Olympiatrade contacted us there, asking us about the possibility of exporting the EC to the states of the former USSR. They brought a delegation of the Kazakh ministry of education to us and these people were looking for school computers for computer technical education. They were very fond of the Enterprise, especially as one computer with green monitor was only around DEM 500 instead of appr DEM 2700 for an IBM compatible XT clone from far east at that time.
 
We invited the delegation to Munich (they came in autumn 1989), not having any russian version of the machines ready. Work on the cirillic cartridge started immediately. As there was no time to make a new cartridge pcb, we took the already existing three slot pcb from Hungary. Vilmos made a first version of the cyrillic keyboard/printer driver and self-adhesive stickers for the keyboard have been designed. The demonstration machines were finished the night before the minister arrived in Munich (I remember, that Vilmos and I went home from the office around 04:00am, just to sleep an hour or two and go back again to welcome the delegation). I have lots of pictures from that time but there was no time to scan them yet.
 
The delegation was impressed, but asked for additional Kazakh characters (you can see them in the first keyboard-row on the pictures). We promised to be able to do that and therefore they signed a contract for two demonstration networks for Almaty. Installation should be soon (i.d.within 1989). We really had to do our utmost, to be able to get ready till then. The hardware (standard unmodified machines ex stock munich) were sent immediately by airfreight and Vilmos and I went to Almaty by the end of november, were we stayed till the 23rd, december. The software for the first two networks got ready somewhere on the 17th/18th, december and we tested the computers and the networks in our hotel rooms, were we had our "office" or "laboratory". We got back on the 23rd/24th of december, but our plane was delayed and there was no flight back from moscow to Budapest on the 24th anymore. We had to spend christmas on moscow airport and flew back to Budapest on the 25th, were I had my car.
 
As you already discovered, the Cyrillic roms have some specialities:
- We had to uppercase all reachable messages and error codes because of the missing smaller latin characters in cyrillic-mode.
- We decided to take version number 2.2 for all roms of the machines, just to have separate versions for the cyrillic machines
- The ZZZIP-compiler was only on the demonstration cartridges for Munich. The computers in Almaty had only the two-slotted cartridge with BASIC 2.2 and the PUPIL/TEACHER-ROM inside.
- EXOS137 and EXOS 138 are the EXOS versions for school number 137 and school number 138 (schools in Almaty had no names, but only a number at that time). These two schools got the demonstration networks. I cannot tell you the reason for these special EXOS roms anymore.
 
All the strange other things (Help-Screens, ...) are simply a result of the unbelievable short time we had to invent that all. We had nothing in June/July and two working computer networks with cyrillic/kazakh keyboard, printer driver, word processor in december of the same year. And this all happened appr. 4950 km away from Munich/Budapest in a time, were Perestroika and Glasnost were just 4 years old. There was no internet nor email at that time and communication was done by telex/teletex, by fax or by phone. There were no direct flights, applying for a visa took appr 4 weeks and everything was more than complicated - a real adventure :-).
Quote from: WernerLindner
we were in Moscow in March 1990 to talk about the possible manufacturing of the EC computers in the USSR (we were talking to ASI Computers, a far-east/russian joint venture at that time). And we met Alexander Perewostschikov (sorry for any misspelling) from Technika Molodeschi. This magazine got a shipment of computers, programs, printers and monitors from us a little bit later. The people from Olympiatrade managed all the appointments in Moscow and organized shipments and payments.
 
At these times it was almost impossible to sell anything to these countries against hard currency. Everything was done with barter contracts, i.e. goods against goods. Companies like EC GmbH always needed a man-in-the-middle who officially did the deal in both directions. Fx. Dhezgazkhan payed for their computers with copper. They delivered the copper, we delivered the computers. As we were not in a position to sell copper on the stock market by ourselves, Olympiatrade was managing everything around that and we received the money from them.

Offline Zozosoft

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There is the ROMs, and what I'm already discovered:
You can found a "fake" 2.2 versions of EXOS, BASIC and EXDOS. The main modification on these: all messages converted to upper case.
Then these are displayed right also in cyrillic mode.

EXOS: the version number only modified at the memory test screen.
12538-0
 See the ASMON screen, the system report version 2.1
12540-1
Because the modifications the ROM CRC are wrong. Instead calculate the right CRC the CRC check routine removed.
If external memory test run with these EXOS roms, INTERNAL CHECKSUM ERROR detected and system halted.
12542-2
Another byte modified in the EXOS:
;PRE VER COPYRIGHT CHECKING
;SEGMENT 00
;    EXOS 2.1    EXOS 2.2
;0181    031H    032H
;019C    0C9H    SCHOLL NO    YET 089H,08AH

At the first character of "INTERNAL CHECKSUM ERROR" message stored the school number.
You can see this in the error screen.
This number byte the reason for the strange EXOS137 and EXOS138 filenames.

Error messages don't modified in EXOS, because these are stored in compressed format.

BASIC: version number in the HELP list modified. But I think if we ask the version number with BASIC system call then it is still report 2.1...
Copyright modified for 1989 Enterprise Computers GmbH
12544-3
Some texts which are in this ROM are upper cased, for example the OK message or the "bytes in system".
But the BASIC error messages still original, because these are in the EXOS ROM Segment 01h, and also in compressed format...

EXDOS: its a hacked 1.3 version, English messages are upper cased. Copyright changed to 1989 EC GmbH
12546-4
Cyrillic ROM: the first and big surprise for me the starting screen! It is a variant of the 'a' Studió Enterprise Plus cartridge! :shock:
For the comparision I also made screen shoots with the Plus ROM.
12548-512550-6

At the start the CIRIL ROM is check the modified bytes in the EXOS ROM. If these not right then come the GAME OVER screen :-)
12552-7

Compare the HELP list of the CIRIL and PLUS, the PLUS have more functions, but the CIRIL HELPs little more detailed.
12554-812556-9
12558-1012560-11

Both expansion include WP. This is very interesting point!
The Plus don't include in the HELP list, and not autostarted (if no other ROM started), only started with WP command.
The CIRIL are list as WP 2.2, and it is can be autostarted. The copyright also are 1989 EC GmbH.
12562-12
The big surprise when it is started! It is the Super WP! Just all text upper cased.
12564-13
But in the PLUS ROM, the WP looks same with the original 2.1 version. Only in the Status line write it is a WP PLUS. And the upper screen are strange: it is widder than the original, like in the Super WP.
12566-14
I can't find any functional difference in this version from the 2.1...
There is the most strange thing: the Plus Cartridge User Manual are talking about: new better WP, with printer functions included in the Plus ROM. But we not found the better functions...
But this is right for the Super WP, which is included in the CIRIL ROM! Very strange why it is missing from the Plus!

Back to the HELP list: the CIRIL ROM are illegally close the HELP list, for avoid the WP 2.1 displayed. This make other problem: in the complete Cyrillic cartridge (what we see on the photo) included another EPROM with the ZZZIP BASIC compiler.
But because the HELP list illegally closed, the ZZZIP don't displayed. For solve this problem HELP items added fot ZZZIP in the CIRIL ROM. Strange solution... :-)
« Last Edit: 2015.May.01. 20:28:24 by Zozosoft »

Offline BruceTanner

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Quote
Fx. Dhezgazkhan payed for their computers with copper. They delivered the copper, we delivered the computers

Amazing story! :smt043

Quote
But because the HELP list illegally closed, the ZZZIP don't displayed. For solve this problem HELP items added fot ZZZIP in the CIRIL ROM.

:smt018   :smt021

Offline geco

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Great story :) Did the Kazakh story end here, or the story continued ?

Offline Zozosoft

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Great story :) Did the Kazakh story end here, or the story continued ?
More will come, also other ex-Soviet countries :-)
« Last Edit: 2015.April.27. 16:11:05 by szipucsu »

Offline Zozosoft

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About the robot Werner previously wrote:
The source-codes of TEACH.COM are not existing anymore (at least I coudn't find them in my backups yet).
But now:
Quote from: WernerLindner
Then while putting the harddisk back into operation I found the complete sources for the Fischertechnik robot on it and you'll find them attached.