Basis 108 Clone

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Basis 108 Clone

Yesterday i was invented to a old stock clearance of a nearby university.
They had masses of electronics and measure quippment and some old computers.
I paid too much for a car full of "old garbage" but i was very pleased to finaly find a Basis 108 apple clone there in good condition.

This clone has a heavy weight german tank style case with EMI protection.
The keyboard is custom made for Basis by Cherry
The board contains 128K Ram, Z80, seriell, parallel and 3 video ports: B/W, color and RGB.
The eprom places are fully poulated with the Apple II+ roms, unfortunately the original BASIS Roms are missing.

It works very well with one exception: I cant activate the 80 char mode. There must be an incompatibility.
I have a bad copy of the Base 108 manual, but it refers to the original roms.

So i´m looking for a better (and complete with schematics) copy of the manual, images of the original roms and the system disk with the compatibility tools.




b/w output

rgb and color

seriell and parallel







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Re: Basis 108 Clone

AndreLev,

Wow!
That thing is HUGE! lol

The 80 Column problem could be solved with the cards made specifically for the II and II Plus.
I am not sure where you could find original ROMs for this.

I will be going through my website information later today. I remember a site that had this type of clone listed.

If I find it I'll place the URL up here for you.

Are you In Germany, or elsewhere?

Speedy may know something. Smile

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

I am jealous. I had one of these aluminum bodied monsters back in the day, although I don't recall where I got it. The Z80 "looked" like a Microsoft Softcard, as I recall. The Cherry keyboard was sublime...

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Sorry for necro-posting in my first message, but I have two questions about the Basis on picture:

1. Where do the additional (white) DB25 connectors lead? I can't see any expansion cards, perhaps they were unplugged and outside of the picture. Of course it goes both for serial, parallel and disk controllers.

2. Which diagnostic software was used, or which one would be recommended to check the configuration? I believe the unknown card in slot 1 should be the internal 6551 RS232, but based on what I could find on the Internet, few or no Apple ][ applications recognize or can use it. I tried a few ways to get some action from the serial port on my 108, but didn't get any meaningful results.

My unit also only has the Apple ][+ ROMs, no external switches connected. I also haven't got 80 cols to work, but at least the onboard Z80 works out of the box as it happily boots Softcard CP/M. Basis had their own CP/M too, I got access to the disk images but didn't try that version yet.

It appears mine is unusually fitted with two half height floppy drives instead of two full height ones. It means a huge chunk of empty space inside, to the point that I've toyed with the idea to install some Nano-ITX board (or a Pi?) next to the motherboard, if there is some meaningful use of one.

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Hello Steven,
in this case it´s a shot in the sky...
i only faced this "german tank" twice in my "Apple Days".....
- it was known that it had a lot of incompatibility issues...
therefor i didn´t collect anything about it...
speedyG

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Weird - the Basis 108 is considered highly compatible in the USA. Better than most.

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

You have to consider the meaning of 'compatible'. The Basis 108 has pretty good compatibility to 48k Apple II Software. But if you wanted to use the full 128k or the advanced Serial, Parallel and Video features, you had to use specially designed Software or a patched Apple DOS. There are serious problems with later Versions of ProDos and auto-patch Hardware would not work in some cases as well. I have yet to get my BASIS 108 to work properly (one of the ROMS seems to be corrupt).

-Jonas

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

well the problem is related to the term "compatible".....
the term is "stretchable" like chewing gum.......
Although i did not collect material related only to Basis 108...
- but i have the entire annuals of the British and the German User Magazins....
and the are filled with contributions related to compatibility problems of
the "tank brick"....in old days we used that term with 2 things:
the bassis 108 and the Volvo 440 GL
in both cases you might drop the item from a bridge...
and after it smasched on the ground
- the ground will be damaged but the unit will be working....
in both cases the case is made of solid steel....
i´ve seen an accident of a Volvo with an electrical steetwagon...
the Volve left the place of the accident with it´s own power and engine ...
...the electrical streetwagon was a total damage and had to be removed with a special crane...
that´s just the story behind the way the Basis 108 got here in Germany it´s nickname in the
user groups.... anyhow it won´t bring you ahead except 2 points:
along with the BASIS 108 came 3 Disks:
One special "initial" Bootdisk containing a patched DOS containing the prgrams to switch the video
from 40 col to 80 col and reverse ( the usual pr#3 ) won´t work correct..The utilities for use of
the parallel and serial interface and the utility for switching the memory banks ( this was quite
similar structured like the 128 kB Saturn Ram Disk card, and the "preboot" for the next disk
- if you wanted to boot CPM..... You can boot CPM without that preboot... but without preboot
you will remain in 40 col mode.... and the second disk contained the patched CPM starting correct
by toggeleing on the 80 col mode.... and the third disk contained utilities for UCSD Pascal
and toggeling there the 80 col mode and supporting the additional RAM as RAMdisk....
and the second thing:
this 3 disks only work correct with the original BASIS 108 Eproms inserted....
this is indicated with the title "Basis 108" at the startup screen....
if the ROMs have been changed to the original Apple II ROM´s the utilities won´t work properly....
i remember some users had glued in a hidden place in the computer case a small box with antistatic foam
where they placed the removed ROM´s to make sure that they would not get lost....
maybe the former user of this computer also followed up this habit....
- if you are lucky .... it´s like search at eastern where the bunny
has hidden away the chocolate nest...
speedyG

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Thanks for the replies! In my case, I haven't found any stash of ROMs inside the computer. I understand now that it technically has a lot of add-ons built in, but none that is addressed in the same way that equivalent add-ons otherwise would be used, thus all the patching you refer to. That is a shame.

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

carlsson wrote:
Thanks for the replies! In my case, I haven't found any stash of ROMs inside the computer. I understand now that it technically has a lot of add-ons built in, but none that is addressed in the same way that equivalent add-ons otherwise would be used, thus all the patching you refer to. That is a shame.

Even if someone that had the original ROM, they could copy them, ( since original Copyright Hold would most likely not care anymore) and then you could restore the machine to its original state..

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Hello AndreLev and carlsson,
here is the excellent chance to get at least the entire Original Documentation and Diskset:
http://www.ebay.de/itm/Basis-108-CP-M-Handbucher-mit-Disketten-Apple-Clone-CP-M-Plus-/151323774288?pt=Klassische_Computer&hash=item233b998d50
sincerely speedyG

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Thanks! I will try to get this stash...

-Jonas

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Oh, I completely missed that auction lot. I hope it went to a good buyer.

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

carlsson wrote:
Oh, I completely missed that auction lot. I hope it went to a good buyer.

sadly, it wasn't me Sad

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Hello to all that have a Basis108 "tank" !
This current offer is really a precious "gimmick" to those guys....
it´s the diagnostic card for the BASIS 108 !
:
http://www.ebay.de/itm/RARE-BASIS-108-Diagnostic-Disk-Controller-for-Apple-II-etc-/221490976432?pt=US_Vintage_Computing_Parts_Accessories&hash=item3391e416b0
this offers the chance for diagnostic upfront of a repair when misfit happens !
good luck to the bidder....
speedyG

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

RIVIVE thread of the dead and feast on the LIVIIINNG..

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Smile

https://archive.org/details/basis108SurvivalPack

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Thank you for that link.

I have one of those tanks, but without the keyboard.

Maybe I can find info, how to adapt another one.

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

Thanks stynx!

I have a Basis 108 and thankfully have a keyboard. I posted pics at the Deskthority keyboard forum here: https://deskthority.net/photos-f62/basis-108-cherry-m8-low-profile-t13942.html

Beautiful machine but I don't think I've attempted to turn it on yet as I had no software. This is great.

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Re: Basis 108 Clone

There are pinouts of the connectors included in the manual, as well as a schematic of the keyboard (controller) in the last pages. There should be a connector on the mainboard that is Apple II compatible.

-Jonas

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Re: Basis 108 - Apple ][ Clone

Just for kicks, after decades of not thinking about it,  I entered "Basis 108" in Duck Duck Go and just found this discussion thread.   In the early 1980's, I wrote numerous technical articles for the monthly newsletter of "BUGS", the Basis User's Group of Sacramento (CA).    This newsletter, composed with WordStar, was mailed out on self-booting CP/M floppies.

 

Some general info on the machine:

 

Out of the box, the machine had 64K of RAM.  The top 16K emulated an Apple 16K  RAM expansion card, a.k.a. "Language Card".  

Six EPROM sockets for 2716 EPROMS were provided on the mother board, but only the first one, in the DO address range, was occupied with a Basis variant of the Apple "monitor"  ROM: i.e what would today be called a "BIOS".  It had just enough code to boot a floppy drive.  

Booting a 5" floppy called the "Basis Booter" wouuld load a modified version of Applesoft Basic into the top 16K of RAM and lock the ram range to emulate ROMs.    (The "booter" disk was created by a special utility that read a standard Apple 3.3  DOS  master disk and made a new modified version on another floppy.)     

The net result of this process was the equivalent of a 48K Appple ][ with an enhanced version of AppleSoft Basic.    Basis Basic (called FP8O) supported several additional keywords beyond Applesoft.   "FP8O" would flip the display into 80 columns, while "FP4O" would create the classic Apple 4O-column display.    Both FP40 and FP80  had full upper/lower-case display.    PR#1 Accessed the built-in parallel card, while "PR#9" accessed the buiilt-in serial port.     [Note that PR1 is  0001 while PR9 was 1001; i.e. slot one with the high bit set.]

Both devices were  mapped into the same peripheral memory space for "Slot 1",  along with a clone of a Microsoft "Z80 Softcard".   The BASIS monitor ROM and FP80 also provided a nice X/Y screen-oriented editor for BASIC and command lines instead of the line-oriented editor of Applesoft.  At the hardware/electrical  level, the parallel and serial ports were identical to an Apple printer card and an Apple Super Serial card respectively.  Commercial Apple programs that accessed the ports at the hardware register level (such as "Print Shop" or modem comms programs) would find both devices in "Slot 1".    The problems only arose when home-made programs written in FP80 Basic tried to access the "Pr#9"  serial port while running under standard Applesoft BASIC instead of the modified Basis FP80.   FP80 also supported accessing the functiion keys across the top of the keyboard.

The Basis built-in 80-column display paralleled the memory space of the Apple 40-column display with 2K of static RAM.  The Basis monitor under FP80 would bank-switch, with the odd # columns in the main memory and the even columns in the second bank.     Because no Apple-centric software written for 80 columns knew how to address this scheme, nearly everyone I know also had a Chinese-knock-off of a Videx 80-column card in slot 3.     The Basis "zapped" versiions of CP/M and Pascal knew how to address the 80-column system natively.

 

By inserting a full set of six Apple ][ ROMs (or EPROM copies), you could free the full 64K of RAM for programs.  The  system would accomodate either the "Applesoft" Basic ROMs of the Apple ][ +, or the "Integer Basic" of the original Apple ][.   Or you could burn the Basis FP80 to the eproms instead.  

The sockets on the motherboard were actually pinned out for 2732 eproms.  A 3-pin header near the front of  the motherboard would allow you to select either the upper or lower half of the address range of 2732s.    I always made "double-deckers" with the Apple DO monitor and Applesoft in the lower half,  and the Basis Monitor/FP80 in the upper half of six 2732 eproms.  I mounted  a single-pole double-throw toggle switch on the front panel to switch between modes.  

 

The Basis motherboard provided space for a second set of  64K of  dynamic RAM, for a total of 128K, bank-switched. 

 

Basis provided "zap" utilities to modify Microsoft CP/M 2.2 and Apple Pascal as well  as DOS 3.3 to utilize the added hardware features.    The modified Apple OS's had another feature:   The  official Apple "Disk II" floppies had 35 tracks and a capacity of 128K, limited by the track access of the original Shugart 5 1/4 floppy drives in the late 1970s.   By the time the Basis clone arrived in 1981, all the Taiwanese and Japanese-made floppies were capable of 40 tracks.   The Basis "zapped" versions of DOS 3.3, CP/M and Pascal all did 40 tracks with a capacity of 148K.   There was a Basis-provided floppy formatting tool that could do either 40 tracks, or 35 if you needed disks that could exchange with Apple users.    Later on, the Basis Users Group developed a modified 40-track version of ProDOS.  

With ProDOS working on the 108, a modified version of AppleWorks followed.       All of these were technically copy-right-violating derivitives of Apple OSes.

 

In late 1981 or early 1982 (can't remember exactly), Basis released a legitimately-licensed version of   CP/M 3.O  a.k.a. "CP/M Plus"- one of the very few machines that ever saw CP/M 3.   This CP/M version utilized all 128K of a machine so equipped.    Even better, the source code was available so members of the group started modifying the CP/M 3  modular BIOS to support hard  disks, RAM cards and the Thunderclock real-time clock.    

 

By the way, there were two generations of the Basis 108.  The "A3" had a parallel keyboard interface simlar to the one on an Apple ][.  The "A4" had a serial keyboard interface.  It wasn't obvious since both vesions used a DB-25 connector for the keyboard.   The A3 keyboards had black keytops.  The A4 serial ones had tan keytops.  With either keyboard version, the keystrokes were remapped/encoded by a fuse-link PROM on the motherboard near the keyboard connector.   I burned many copies of modified keyboard PROMs to map the common Apple cursor diamond to the cursor pad keys on the Basis keyboard.  And to remap common WordStar keystrokes to the function keys.

 

If anyone is interested, I can still burn the double-deck eproms.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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I always wanted a BASIS 108. 

I always wanted a BASIS 108.  They were one of the coolest clones.  Unfortunately I never got one, and now they are hard to find and expensive, so I probably never will.  Alas.

 

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edacs800, thanks so much for

edacs800, thanks so much for posting this story. I'm sure there are many people who would be interested in seeing the ROM images. If you could post them to the file library here, that would be wonderful, or if you'd prefer to email them, I could post them for you.

 

If you still have any copies of the newsletter, it would be fascinating to read those, too.

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Basis 108 Firmware EPROM Image Files

I have uploaded a zip file to my web server host containing the image files needed to recreate the complete set of 6 EPROMs needed to add complete Apple/Basis functionality to the Basis 108 .   Go to:

 

      http://s180250204.onlinehome.us/Basis/Basis-108-EPROMs.zip 

 

to download.    Here is the READme file in this ZIP archive:


 

The six binary files in this zip file recreate "double-decker" firmware ROMs or EPROMs for the Basis 108.   

The six 24-pin sockets near the front of the motherboard originally held a single 2716 (2K) eprom in the "D0" position. This provided the ability to boot a floppy drive, or enter the Basis version of the Apple "monitor" with the classic Apple "CALL -151" command.  There was no BASIC interpreter on board.  

You can replace this with the full set of either six standard (2K) 2716 Apple ][ ROMs allowing boot to a standard Applesoft BASIC prompt, or boot the usual Apple 5 1/4" floppy drive connected to slot 6.   Or you could install six EPROMs containing the enhanced Basis version of the monitor ROM & the enhanced Basis version of Applesoft BASIC called "FP80" (Floating Point 80-Cols).  

Or, if you are a truly hard-core historic hardware enthusiast, the "Integer Basic" ROMs of the original (non-Plus) Apple ][.

The Apple firmware is far more compatible with software for the Apple ][ and ][+ .  The Basis firmware allows access to enhanced features such as the built-in serial port, full upper/lower case entry & display, built-in 80-column display without an add-on card, and access to the function keys on the Basis keyboard from BASIC programs.

 

 

FP80 added keywords to Applesoft BASIC.  The command "FP80" activates the 80-column display mode.  "FP40 returns to the classic Apple ][ 40-column mode, but with full upper/lower case display.  "PR#9" accesses the built-in clone of an Apple "Super Serial Card".    

 

The six 24-pin sockets are actually pinned out for (4K) 2732 ROMs/EPROMs. The most-significant-bit address line of a 2732 is brought out to the 6-pin header "J10", just to the right of the sockets. The 2x3 six-pin header has .1-inch spacing and mates with a Molex "KK" series connector. By connecting a single-pole double-throw toggle switch to this header, you can select either the lower half or the upper half of 2732 eproms. I.e. you can have the equivalent of two sets of 2716s in the same sockets at once, and select one or the other at will.
   

The 2732 ROM-image files in this archive contain BOTH the classic Apple ][+ firmware -AND- the enhanced Basis version.  Just power-off, flip the toggle switch and power back on to switch modes.  

The files are straight binary images of the ROMs (not Intel hex files) that nearly any EPROM programmer can read.   Use any flavor of 2732 (2732, 2732A, 27C32, etc) with an access speed of 200 nS or better.  Note that the different flavors require different PROGRAMMING voltages, normally selected by an eprom type menu in the programming software.    Once programmed, all of them are READ during operation with the same voltages and are essentially identical.

Since these ROMs are never going to be erased and re-written again once programmed, you might want to use the less-expensive one-time-use equivalent of the 2732.   These single-use eproms are encased in plastic instead of ceramic, and don't have the erase windows.

The photos in this archivew show the eprom socket sequence and the switch connection point.


edacs800      15 March 2019

 

 

 

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Picture of Basis Firmware Eproms and Switch
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Pics of Basis 108

Here are some pictures of my fully-decked-out Basis 108.   All pics were shot with an iPad Mini III, and annotated in IrfanView.

 

The Apple Graphics works perfectly with the B 108 .   

 

 

Annotated view of interior.     Note that the first expansion slot is #2 .   The built-in parallel port,  Apple Super Serial Card clone, and the Microsoft Z-80 "Softcard"  clone were all mapped into the memory space of a virtual slot 1.     The "Z-80 "Turbo" board was a piggyback after-market add-on that replaced the OEM motherboard  1 Mhz  Z-80 with a 2.5 MHz one.   It really goosed the speed of WordStar and dBase II !    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

Another view of the interior calling out the loading of the expansion cards.  Since the virtual "Slot 1" already contained three peripherals, you could get far more stuff into the 108 at the same time than you could on a real Apple ][.   In this shot, I have disconnected the 80-conductor SCSI ribbon cable between the hard disk and it's controller in slot 7.      The hard disk was partitioned between all 4 Apple ][ OSes (DOS 3.3, CP/M, Pascal and ProDOS).  At power-on, it booted to a menu written in DOS 3.3 AppleSoft BASIC that offered to boot into any of the 4 systems.    Or to boot a floppy in slot 6, since so many commercial Apple ][ programs had their own OS (modified) on the floppy.

 

A 4-pin header near the back of the mother board  was provided to connect an RF modulator.  "Back in the day" these devices were common to convert composite NTSC video to RF on  TV channel 3 or 4 , in order to view Apple graphics in color on a TV.   This was at a time when virtually all Apple monitors were green-screen monochrome.  The pin header provided +12 VDC, GND/Common,  and color baseband NTSC composite video.   The video pin was  in parallel to the color composite BNC connector on the back panel.

 

Slot 2 was used alternately for the card for the graphics tablet, "SAM" (Software Automatic Mouth voice synthesizer),   or the "Apparat Prom Blaster" EPROM programmer card.  The APB was used to make countless hundreds of copies of the double-decker eproms mentioned in my previous post.

 

Slot 3 contained the classic "Videx VideoTerm"  80-column card widely used on real Apple  ][s.  Even though the B 108 had a built-in 80-column display, it wouldn't be recognized by most Apple ][ software.   For compatibility, one was forced to always install a Chinese knockoff of the Videx card into slot 3, and then add a switch to select between the motherboard video -or- the video from the Videx card.
 

"Slot 5" contained a 256K "BasRAM" memory card.  The Basis-specific modified Appleworks would actually recognize this card, as would the Basis version of CP/M 3.0.  Many users inserted an Applied Engineering "RamFactor" card here instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

A view of the front panel, showing the switches added to select the two sets of EPROMS,   select motherboard video or the Videx 80-column video,   and a third switch to make the Videx card "dissappear" by disabling it's on-card ROM.   This was neccessary when booting the Basis CP/M 2.2. which was a "zapped" version of Microsoft Softcard CP/M 2.2.  The Microsft CP/M always assumed motherboard video could only do 40-cols uppercase-only  display. It always tried to activate the slot 3 card for 80-cols  U/L display.   The modified Basis version of MS Softcard CP/M still had this MS 80-cols slot 3 detect routine in it.  It would always select the slot 3 Videx by default,  even though it was perfectly capable of activating the motherboard display in 80 columns.  The only way to address this problem was to make the slot 3 card "disappear" when booting Basis CP/M 2.2 .     (The later native Basis CP/M 3.0 didn't have this problem.)

 

 

 

A view of the inside of the cast aluminun cover of the Basis 108, showing the industrial-strength EMI/RFI gasketing.     The Basis 108 was far more usable around radio gear, such as in a ham shack, than  the plastic-cased real Apple ][ .

 

 

 

 

 

A.

 

 

Basis 108 Porta-Luggie !  I attached hasps to lock the cover down without screws.  Anyone who had an Apple ][ or equivalent was always adding or removing hardware from interior slots.   The  hasps avoided having to keep turning the machine over to remove the long machine screws that secured the cover to the bottom case.   

 

Then I added a suit case handle to make the machine a "porta-luggie".   I was constantly taking the machine to meetings of the Basis Users Group for demos and wanted an easier way to heave it into my car.  (This was well before the Osborne 1 generallyy considered to be the first "portable" machine.)     Before the hard disk, I actually had a 5" monochrome composite CCTV monitor mounted in the left drive bay behind a smoked Plexiglas panel.

 

 

edacs800     15 April 2019

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