Subject: FLEX User Group Newsletter Vol 1 No 7 Hello to all, This is FLEX User Group Newsletter, Volume 1, Number 7! Dated 19990613, get used to the ISO date format folks, year 2000 is very, very, VERY near! Welcome to the new members! First the boilerplate introduction: +++LIST,BOILRPLT.TXT My name is Ian Blythe and I am already known to several of you with some private messages, however to those who have not heard from me, I have picked your names from various sources as having a continuing interest in the TSC 6809 FLEX operating System. 1998 was the 20th Birthday of Flex (1978-1998 - so let's join together and share our knowledge and enthusiasm for Flex. If you do not wish to be emailed in the future on this subject, please let me know, otherwise I welcome your thoughts on this. +++LIST,NEWV1N07.TXT Well I'm still working on contract 300km from home, but the end of this contract is at the end of this June, so I'll certainly start putting the FLEX User Group CD-ROM together; So please send me anything that you have that you'd like to see on the FUG CD. I have a scanner now, 'a birthday present' :), so if you can send clean copies of any documents I can convert them. It seems that the FLEX User Group web pages are finally on the various search engines, as several new members to the group have found us this way. I'm slowly adding to the pages, and I'll apologise in advance that I missed putting the previous updates up onto the site by FTP, so there are two sets of updates available. (This delay had something to do with reinstalling W98 five times (only) thus losing my FTP connection). Following a recent discussion, Bjarne Bäckström in Sweden has set up a private mailing list for the group: the fufu-l list. Details follow in this newsletter. Please use this list for communicating with all the other members (don't forget to subscribe!). I will be publishing a digest of the communications on this list in forthcoming newsletters. I found someone who I thought might help us get copyright release from Motorola so that we can add the 6800 and 6809 data onto the CD-ROM. This person is a technical writer (like me :) and works as an author at Motorola SPS. We've exchanged a few e-mails and we'll see what comes out of this! It seems that The Computer Journal is having problems in continuing. Yes there were many articles for the Z*0n, S1*0 and CP/* - based computers, but there were still many other articles on Forth and our 68xx computers. Please checkout TCJ on the web (http://www2.psyber.com/~tcj). Check through the archive copies, and order a few, also think about a subscription and say that I sent you! Peter Stark, writer of the FLEX 'clone' SK*DOS, is recovering from treatment at the moment, please join with me in wishing Peter a speedy and full recovery. Look out for a special edition newsletter on Peter's contribution to the 68xx world, coming soon. +++LIST,NEWONWEB.TXT A new page added for utilities and miscellaneous other documents. The first entries are the DSK viewer tool for W9x: Flexplorer by Wolfgang Schwotzer (there will also soon be a Linux version too, with both versions provided with source under the GPL). I've also provided a file on information on floppy disk structures that I found on the web as a PostScript file. When I went back to the same address to see if there was any update the file was no longer there. I did several web searches, but the source of this file seems to have gone. As several members have been asking about floppy disks, I put the file on the webpages as a PDF. Michael Evenson has provided some further information on the structure of FLEX disks in the FAQs page. If you have any other questions on FLEX, please send your questions to me and I'll add them into the FAQ. On the Copyrights page I have made a correction requested by Tom Crosley. (SPL/M replaces FORTH). New Documents: Only the Floppy.pdf on the Utilities page up till now. I've got several more documents in the pipeline, so hopefully there will be some more documents soon. Remember the URL for the FUG homepages is: http://perso.pacwan.fr/ipblythe/fug1.htm +++LIST,NEWMEMS.TXT Hiroshi Aono, our first member in Japan! Dick Bartholomew, in the USA Joel Bertrand, in France Lars Björklund, in Sweden Jur van der Burg, in Sweden Steve Davies, in New Zealand Bill Fisher, in the USA (?) William Gee Jr, in the USA Mark King, in New Zealand Joe Lang, in the USA Jeff Skebe, in Australia Ron Anderson has finally retired and moved south for the sun. Let's all wish RON and his dear wife a happy retirement. Ron has been flying the flag for FLEX since the days of MiniFLEX, both in 68Micro Journal and The Computer Journal. Ron's software tutorials were the introduction to 68xx microprocessors for many of us way back at the beginning of home computing (when hacking was honourable :). +++LIST,FUFULIST.TXT From (c) Bjarne Bäckström: To all members of FLEX Users Group: I've begun a mailing list for users of the 680x FLEX and UniFLEX operating systems. The list is called 'fufu-l' (FLEX & UniFLEX Users' List). In order to reduce the possibilities for 'spam', only subscribers can send messages to the list. In the beginning, the list will be processed with 6 hours' interval. If needed, that interval will be adjusted later on. The e-mail address for subscription and other 'administrative' commands is: firstname.lastname@example.org (Note from editor, that's maCjordomo and not majordomo) The currently accepted commands are the following and all must appear in the *BODY* of the message. Leave the Subject line empty. You can send multiple commands, each in one line finishing with END. [Note: Only subscribers will be served by other commands than SUBSCRIBE and HELP.] SUBSCRIBE fufu-l Your_FirstName Your_LastName Subscribes you to the list called fufu-l. (Note from editor, the last letter is an 'l' for list, not a 'one') UNSUBSCRIBE fufu-l Unsubscribes you from the list called fufu-l. LIST Shows the list served at this site: email@example.com. REVIEW fufu-l Shows the list of user currently subscribing to fufu-l. HELP Sends this message. INFO fufu-l Send information on the list INDEX fufu-l Shows a list of documents available for GET SEARCH fufu-l Key_Word Searches the documents for a key_word GET fufu-l File_Name Retrieves the document called File_Name SET fufu-l OPTION Set your subscription parameters to OPTION Currently available options are: (default options are indicated) ACKN : Confirms that you sent a message to the list. NOACKN : No Acknowledgment is sent [Default]. CONCEAL : Hides your name from a REVIEW command NOCONCEAL : Shows your name in a REVIEW command [Default]. ACTIVE : Makes your subscription active [Default] INACTIVE : Suspends your subscription until the next ACTIVE command. DIGEST : Sends digests rather than individual messages MAIL : Sends you individual messages. [Default]. REPRO : Send a copy of the message to the sender [Default] NOREPRO : Does not send a copy of the message to the sender +++LIST,FLEXDOCS.TXT Hiroshi Aono kindly sent me copies of the TSC Newsletter editions 4 and 5 all the way from Japan. I have already scanned in these two documents and republished most of the TSC Newsletter #4, although I am having difficulty finding a suitable Type 1 PostScript typeface for the dot- matrix program listings. Does anyone have or know of a source for this typeface? I'm going to investigate making a Type 3 (bitmapped) font. I'll let you all know how I get on in this. There were two styles of program printout in the old days, the TI Silent 700 thermal printer, and the EPSON dotmatrix printers (FX80 - FX100...). I believe that the typeface used for listings in the 68 Micro Journal was the Compressed text mode for the Epson. If I can get the typeface problem sorted, you will be able to copy the source listings directly from the PDF. We still have a lot of manuals to scan in/check/edit/DTP to keep us going for some time, so let's try to get the maximum together for the first FUG CD-ROM within the next month or so. +++LIST,MESSAGES.TXT From (c) Mickey Ferguson: -Why_ didn't any of us write a WordStar, VisiCalc, or DBase? From (c) Paul Huysing in reply: "I couldn't resist replying to Mickey's "point". I'm not sure whether he has his tongue in his cheek or not! I don't think that "our" software was inferior to the CP/M stuff or for that matter the garbage that was served up on VAX's and such for that matter (ed, vi, etc). I had to struggle with all the CP/M applications at Uni. when working on the MP/M multi-user system and that was not an enjoyable experience. I was working on applications for a stand alone processor board. Compared to the applications I wrote for other 6809 projects on my Flex machine it was a lot easier the Flex way. As for utilities... Stylograph, Dynacalc - I felt these were superior to anything on the CP/M and the first versions of these types of programs on the "PC". I wrote every assignment, paper, thesis and job application on my machine with Stylo and it was so easy compared to WordStar. I think we can learn a lesson from the old applications - often now when I'm writing reports I don't need all the bells and whistles that 'Word' provides, just simple formatting commands, indentation etc. People spend hours each year messing around with the ruler settings (in fact all the settings!) on Word formatting each paragraph just so. Surely it was easier to type ,in 4 then ,in 8 wasn't it? In the end it's what was made from the systems "we" ran - there are lots of folks out there who wrote and made applications for everything from coffee machines to telephone exchanges, all those users (like me) who learnt a new programming language, C, Pascal, PL/9 and Forth. I'm sure they think they_did_a_lot!" A good reply Paul, some very good points - any further comments to add from anyone? From (c) Bjarne Bäckström: Subject: File archive launched again "I have set up my humble web-based 680x(x) file archive again. Now it also contains pointers to the FLEX User Group home page and Randy Lewis' UniFLEX page. The URL is: http://w1.503.telia.com/~u50302970/index.html ." Check out Bjarne's web site now! From (c) Carl Kreider "Boy, the memories! I remember all those names and am amazed that you managed to track them down (Shirk, Reimiller, Crosley, etc). You need to find out what happened to SWTP and post that, as SWTP and TSC (Flex) were what Intel and Microsoft are today." Thanks Carl! You've got exactly the right point that the FLEX User Group is all about. FLEX was the major player (at least in the 68xx world before the 1984 technology of IBM swamped the marketplace). From (c) Frank Wilson: "I got the address of the Motorola "freeware" BBS, although it is not easy to find. It is: http://126.96.36.199/freeweb They do not seem to have a master index anymore, but do have the 6800 User Group files. A long time ago (before the BBS was deleted in favor of a Website) I copied all the 6800 files and found they were corrupted. My guess is that in copying them from the source disks to the BBS that some sort of buffer overflow occurred and there were periodic droupouts. Portions are just missing. I contacted the BBS about this, but never got a reply." Thanks, I got the 6800 User Group files, yes a few are still corrupted, but there are still quite a few useful routines in the files, so go get them now! (or wait for the FLEX User Group CD - you have sent in your demographic information haven't you? :) From (c) Jeff Skebe: "Having cut my microprocessor operating system eye teeth porting TSC's FLEX to my own 6809 hardware twenty-some years ago, I was somewhat surprised to see the name resurrected recently by Motorola. The following quotation... "FLEX™ OS is a fully-tiered wireless operating system that provides a common look, feel and navigation in paging products." is taken from Motorola's website... http://www.pagingsystems.com/hiw_fs/fs_fos.asp?item=51 Before you leap to the same conclusion that I initially did, this use of the FLEX name is actually the OS-9 operating system as mentioned in Microware's webpage... http://www.microware.com/PressRoom/photoarchives.html#MotorolaPageWriter A rather strange and questionable choice of name by some wet-behind- the-ears marketing type with no historical knowledge perhaps? Anyway when I saw this, I began researching the FLEX that we all know and love and came upon your website. What a great job you have done in gathering and presenting all of this information! I had a look at the FLEX Advanced Programmer's Manual and it brought back such fond memories as I recognized the manual pages that I had known oh so well, many year ago. Also seeing the familiar names of the many people connected with this industry in the past was like being at a family reunion. And seeing the '+++' prompt suddenly appearing again really took me back!!!" Thanks Jeff, this reply also follows on to the comment I made in Newsletter #6 concerning Motorola's FLEX operating system. Thanks, your e-mail has helped to sort this out a bit. I know exactly how you feel in seeing the +++ again, and I think that we all share this feeling, and that is what makes us a User Group. From (c) John J. Fiorino: "Just one question. Has anyone solved the 2000 date problem. I have re-compiled the DATE utility changing the 19 to 20, but the year 2000 prints as 200? After 2000 the rest on the date prints fine... 2001,2020,2050 etc." One of our group members is now the Y2K person for the company he works for (wish him luck!) and he has promised to look into making FLEX Y2K compatible, at least by 2010 :) On another viewpoint, the FLEX FCB does have a spare 'unused' byte not far from the date fields. Anyone want to try recompiling FLEX for a 16- bit year (two bytes)? From (c) Hiroshi Aono: "It was a really exciting time when I found FLEX User Group home page! There are many sites of COCO and OS9, however, there was nothing or a few until your home page opened. Your site is just what I have been looking for! I would like to introduce little bit myself. I am living Japan and have been a FLEX user from when I made a home brew computer which has MC6800 and MIKBUG monitor. Still now, the computer is running. I am very interested in FLEX related software, especially, source codes and manuals." "I have read all the pages on FUG web site including PDFed manuals. There is no problem on reading the manuals, even though I use Japanese version of Acrobat Reader 3.0J. There may be no problem for those people who uses latest version of Acrobat Reader." Thank you Hiroshi-san, and especially for checking that the PDFs are readable in Japan! From (c) Joe Lang: "While crawling around the web I found FLEX Users group. There can't be many of us left. I have a large collection of 6809 stuff. including a couple of SWTPc systems and a lot of Home brew. " "I have several software Items not generally available: SWTPC disk basic for FLEX 9 ( I dare you to find this anywhere else) SWTPC disk basic for OS9 ( huh? ) FLEX 9 source code (utilities and FLEX ) General FLEX (porting kit)" [plus a whole lot more - editor] "I have the doc's for all this stuff (more rare than the code) Thats all the software I can remember off the top of my head. I'll dig it out and do a more complete list later. I also have an assortment of SS-50 boards (inventory later)" also: "I accumulated all this stuff new. I started playing with the SWTPC 6800 in 1976 And could never bring myself to toss out a working computer. Unlike the current crop of PC hardware ,The 6800/6809 required an investment in time and learning,that creates an attachment to the system thats hard to get over." "I have the capability to copy this stuff to DSK format and I have a FTP server to put it on. I'll let you know when it starts to show up. It may take some time as It's all on real disks. (mostly 8" a little hard to fit in to a PC drive ;-) " "If you know of persons looking for SS-50 hardware send them my way. I have more than I'll ever use. And will part with it for shipping costs." "I'm not sure how to handle the documentation,way too much to copy. I'm a little paranoid about boxing it up and shipping it off. Maybe I'll buy a scanner... If you have any specific documentation your looking for I should be able to copy some of it." "more stuff I found that I have: dynacalc, EZdata, Abasic, CSC disasembler" Wow! Joe certainly has a lot of equipment, now if we can only get all the manuals into PDF and onto the CD-ROM, together with the DSKs... If you need any SS50 hardware, do contact Joe (through me first). also: Editor: How did you make the DSK files? "I have a set of utilities that run on real flex systems (or emulators) master - redirects disk requests (drives 2 and 3)to the serial port slave - runs on remote flex system and handles the serial requests. This combination has the effect of making the remote systems drives appear as if they were local (source is on the DSK images). The DSK files were made on reflex and master was used to copy from a real Flex system running slave. You may notice the disk size equals 77 tracks 26 sectors (8" disks). There has been a recent debate on the fufu-l on this very subject, so expect to hear more of this through the newsletter. From (c) Mark King: "I have just discovered your website while I was looking for a copy of Flex Debug manual. :) I started with the 6800 back in 76 (I brought back to NZ an AMI prototyping kit and 16K ram board which was being sold at the Homebrew Computer Club in San Francisco).I discovered wire wrapping and apart from an SWTPC system I have wirewrapped most of my computer projects. Some boards are still in use after 18 years or so." Aha! - wire wrapping and still running, a common thread in the FLEX history! From (c) Reinert H. G. Mueller .....snip..... >>I wrote the following software for FLEX .. [ Image Analysis ] > >Wow! would you be willing to release this to the group? "Well, most part of that software is in assembler, only a small part in OmegaSoft Pascal. Also, all programs are pretty much customized to my old system with a special MMU controlling 4 MB of DRAM for large images or 3D-images. And none of them are documented... :-( Therefore I believe it would not be very useful for anybody. Anyway, if there is anybody interested in this software, I see no problems to release it, at least parts of it. May be it's best done via personal contact instead of setting all that stuff undocumented on a CD-ROM..." Image Analysis running on FLEX! so what could we not do with FLEX? and also: >>- VT100 Terminal emulator >>- CAD package for electronic circuit design (by LPKF, with lots of changes >> for using different color planes for the layers by myself) Yet again we could do as much with FLEX as we can on a PC, with such a simple operating system! The two programs mentioned above will be made available for the group once the authors have been found and have given their copyright release... From (c) Steve Davies: "I used to like programming for FLEX as it, let me be close to the hardware, was easy to understand and simple to use. With all the new interest in FLEX it's a shame that I don't have the hardware anymore to use it on." Please lend Steve our sympathy, and if anyone has a system that can be shipped to New Zealand easily we could make Steve very happy :) +++LIST,COPYRITE.TXT I'm only going to list new copyright clearances here from now on, after all the list is always available on the FLEX User Group web site. From (c) Dick Bartholomew: "I think I said this before, but if not, you have my permission to post my name in the list. I also put into the public domain any and all of the Flex software I published and sold, mostly thru Frank Hogg Labs. My memory is a little fuzzy on exactly what went on back in those days. Since I hadn't even thought about the 09 stuff until last year, I don't recall all of what I wrote or the names of the programs. What I've listed below I'm pretty sure is correct, but if in error, feel free to make any corrections. After 25 years of programming, code tends to flow together.
I wrote the following software for FLEX : Flex Tookkit, Flex Extended Utilities, Extended Basic Decompiler" Thanks Dick! Now does anyone have copies and manuals for the software provided by Dick? +++LIST,EMULATOR.TXT From (c) Frank Wilson: "First: Thanks again for the FLEX Users Group. Second: I purchased the ReFlex emulator, and except for a few little "not really problems" got things working rather well. You have to leave the "chunky" option on, and then emulation goes "real fast". On my 266 Mhz Pentium the emulator runs at the rough equivalent of a 6.8 Mhz (bus speed) 6809. Third: I took my PDP8/E emulator that was working on a 68HC11 and after some hairy editing got it to compile on the Flex ASMB and: >>> THE DARN THING WORKED <<< I have run a few test programs and the ancient language FOCAL. Even though the PDP8 emulation includes an interrupt driven Teletype interface, using the 6809 emulators' IRQ generator it was possible to make the PDP8 think it had a real TTY board. Even with the ReFlex panel display working the system is still fast enough to use without waiting forever to get results from FOCAL. I wish the user accessable display LED's included another bank of 8. Then the PDP8 could have its own panel lights, similar to the original machine. Well, now that the "8" emulation is running I am not sure what to do with it." Well isn't that amazing! An emulator of the 6809 running FLEX on a PC AND emulating a PDP8! Who said that FLEX was not capable of some amazing tricks! Frank is offering the PDP8 emulator to anyone who is interested. Check through me first. +++LIST,CLASSIFY.TXT Items wanted or available: From (c) Beukes Werner: "Way back in 1984, I ordered a SBC (6809) from a company in the UK.(Microconcepts). On the board was a NEC7220 graphics processor chip. The software that came with the board included utilities on a floppy. The software was created on the FLEX operating system. How can I read the information from that floppy? I only have access to DOS. Any suggestions?" Now is this Dave Rumball's Microbox ][ I wonder? - as mentioned in Newsletter #6. Anyway getting FLEX disk content onto Floppy is going to be the biggest requirement for the FLEX User Group. Could someone write up a good technical note on the procedure to get information from a FLEX disk to the DSK format? Just send the information to me and I'll package it up for the group. There is a very large requirement also for getting the information off 8 inch disks, as the drives have practically diappeared. Could we find someone in each of the world's major geographic areas who is able and prepared to convert any disks sent to him/her. Offers please! +++LIST,DEMOGRAF.TXT Please continue to send me the demographic data request that I put into Newsletter #5. Many thanks to those who have already clipped the text, filled in the relevant bits and sent me the data back by e-mail. **As an incentive, all who send me this information will get a free CD of the FLEX User Group Archive towards the end of this summer.** Newsletter #5 is available on the website if you don't have a copy of #5 any longer. The newsletter is plain text, so save the file and then open it in any text editor, add your personal information into the Demographic bit, clip this bit and paste it into an e-mail to me. +++LIST,NEXTEDN.TXT Keep those messages coming! the more the merrier as this is YOUR group! +++LIST,FOOTER.TXT Well that's the seventh newsletter. Bigger and better (I hope). I appreciate all feedback and inputs, help keep the newsletter growing! As ever if you hear of any FLEX software or systems being junked or scrapped, please save it for us. I am collecting as much as I can. I'm always looking for manuals, any condition, photocopy or not, as long as the copy is clean and can be scanned. Best regards to all Ian Blythe 1 Domaine Ste Croix +++FLEX 13710 FUVEAU +++User FRANCE +++Group (Coordinator) Copyright (c) 1998, 1999 Ian P. Blythe. All Rights Reserved. This newsletter may be further distributed provided that it is copied in its entirety, including the newsletter number at the top and the copyright and contact information at the bottom. All trademarks are acknowledged. -- words are but mine own, I speaketh not for another firstname.lastname@example.org : email@example.com +++MON ..