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Cromemco Z-2D – by John Paul Wohlscheid

Cromemco Z-2D – by John Paul Wohlscheid

2023-02-28 23:31:18

From the September/October 1977 issue of Personal Computing

From the September/October 1977 subject of Private Computing

Cromemco was based in 1974 by Harry Garland and Roger Melen. Each males had been college students at Stanford College. The title Cromemco was a reference to the dorm they shared at Stanford, Crothers Memorial.

The corporate’s first product was the Cyclops digital digicam, which was adopted by the Dazzler coloration graphics interface. Each merchandise had been groundbreaking. Shortly after their launch, Cromemco modified their focus to creating computer systems.

The primary Cromemco laptop was the Z-1 launched in August 1976. The Z-1 was basically an IMSAI 8080. It was the identical chassis, however used a Z80 chip as a substitute of an Intel 8080. Cromemco continued to construct computer systems for years to return. They even created CROMIX, their very own Unix-like working system. Ultimately, they switched from Z80 chips to the Motorola 68000.

In 1987, Garland (now the only real proprietor) bought Cromemco to Dynatech Company. The European aspect of Cromemco was closed in 2018, however the Greek branch still exists, however apparently it doesn’t make computer systems anymore.

The Cromemco Z-2 was launched in 1977. It was powered by a Zilog Z80 chip and ran the CP/M operating system. It was accessible as a package or assembled. The Z-2 used the S-1000 bus system and will assist as much as 21 add-on boards.

The Z-2D was launched in September 1977. It improved on the Z-2 by together with 64 KB of ram, one or two Wangco 5¼ inch disk drives, a disk energy provide, and a disk controller. (You may see the insides of a Z-2D here and here.)

Steven K. Roberts had the next to say in regards to the Z-2D within the June 1979 subject of Kilobaud Microcomputing:

Cromemco has performed an admirable job integrating numerous {hardware} and software program parts into an environment friendly laptop system. Initially a producer of “add-ons” for the Altair and IMSAI markets, the corporate started in 1977 to supply its personal S-100-based processor, the Z-2. It was immediately evident that they had been addressing present deficiencies within the area, because the mechanical design was not flimsy and the bus was quiet.

Inspired by the Z-2’s preliminary enthusiastic acceptance, Cromemco added the 2 Wangco minifloppies and their controller, which flip the mainframe right into a Z-2D. An working system known as CDOS (initially a by-product of CP/M, now an enhancement thereof) was supplied, supporting a superb assembler, a complete disk BASIC, FORTRAN IV, and lately, COBOL, a phrase processor, and a knowledge base administration system. In late 1977, when it was incorrectly assumed that almost all of microprocessor prospects had been hobbyists, most producers would have lengthy since engaged within the widespread artwork of laurel-resting.

All through my involvement with Cromemco, the 2 most notable traits of the corporate have been its technical competence and its curiosity in serving to customers with issues. The latter is sort of dizzying (in gentle of my a whole bunch of phone and UPS {dollars} spent prior to now in fruitless pursuit of manufacturing facility assist from one of many main entities on this unusual new trade). Unhomogenized by longevity and complacency, the vary of attitudes sported by the system producers ranges from the “You obtain it, it’s yours” philosophy, which is most acquainted, to Cromemco’s virtually embarrassing willingness to commit appreciable vitality to an issue and, sure, even return telephone calls. However sufficient plaudits; let’s have a look at specifics.

Now, with this efficient little interface, the Z-2D can take the place of a system costing greater than twice as a lot. With the flexibility to supply relocatable code through an assembler, which permits such niceties as conditional assemblies and disk macro libraries, it’s virtually enjoyable (properly, let’s not get carried away) to develop software program for exterior processors or, after all, for the Z-2D itself.

It’s straightforward to stray into the finer factors of laptop use when speaking in regards to the Cromemco system, and whereas questionable from a literary standpoint, that could be a good signal. The very best index of a pc system’s worth is the extent to which it makes its presence felt: the much less the higher. The operation of the Z-2D is easy, lowering to virtually zero the events when it’s crucial to concentrate to the system itself.

See Also

We’re into this, most of us, as a result of we see potential in the usage of microprocessors as “thought amplifiers.” We’re conscious that the wedding of the human thoughts, with all its abstraction and pattern-recognition functionality, to the pc, with its swiftness of calculation and flawless reminiscence, gives unprecedented alternatives for artistic expression and sensible enrichment of our lives.

The much less we have now to fiddle round with the interface between ourselves and our machines, the higher we will handle ourselves to the duties at hand.

Within the unending asymptotic strategy to the best, the Cromemco Z-2D stays refreshingly in keeping with the state-of-the-art.


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