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  #1  
Old 06-08-2008, 09:46 AM
TomL_12953 TomL_12953 is offline
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Default Paper Tape Testers Wanted (Free software!)

I'm in the process of creating real punched tapes of Altair software. I'm starting with 4K BASIC since I figure why waste time and paper tape on 12K BASIC if the process doesn't even work properly. I can't try them myself since I don't have my Altair replica yet (C'mon, Grant! I'm dyin' over here!) If you have an Altair (real or replica) and a paper tape reader and would be willing to test the software, I'd be grateful and I'm sure others on this board would appreciate it, too. There's absolutely no cost involved. Just email me the address to which you'd like it sent and I'll mail it to you as soon as it's ready. I will never contact you for any other reason. The only thing I ask is that you post your results on the Forum so we can all benefit by your experience. Once the 4K test is successful, I'll be producing 8K and 12K tapes as well but I'll need to charge postage for the general public. The actual tapes will still be free.

tlake@twcny.rr.com
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Old 06-10-2008, 04:45 AM
Forbin376 Forbin376 is offline
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Default MITS Paper Tapes

I take it that you have access to a working paper tape punch! I'd be happy to test a tape for you. I have a Remex high-speed paper tape reader interfaced to a MITS 4-PIO board. I have not used it in some time (many years) but it has been well stored. My Altair A is up and running my B is not at the moment. If I recall correctly the MITS Altair BASIC uses a two stage loader. The first block of the tape is read by the boot strap as binary byte-by-byte data that is copied into memory by the "toggled" in loader or a PROM boot loader program. Once that loader is in - by counting a fixed number of bytes - it is "jumped" to and begins the actual loading of BASIC. This second loader reads checksumed records and at the end jumps to BASIC itself. I'd need documentation on where the initial loader should end up in memory and how large it is. Does someone have this information or know where it can be found? I no longer have any paper tapes myself which is sad. My mailing address is:

Frank Barberis
111 SW 5th Ave.
Suite 800
Portland, OR 97204

Oh what has been lost: Once upon a time I had a Mylar paper tape of the MITS 12K BASIC Version 3.2 that was loaded into my Altair 8800 A by an ASR-33 Teletype and a MITS 2SIO board!
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Old 06-10-2008, 05:03 AM
Forbin376 Forbin376 is offline
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Default Altair 4K BASIC Loader

Looks like this is what we will need:

http://www.solivant.com/altair_bootloaders/

I do remember using the front panel a lot putting in this program.

Frank
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Old 06-10-2008, 04:32 PM
Geoff Harrison Geoff Harrison is offline
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Default

Hey, somebody found my bootloader page

I also wrote a perl script some time ago that generates Altair paper tape images from any binary file. I don't have a punch or reader, but I've used it to load all kinds of things into my 8800 over the serial port, I'll be glad to post it if anyone wants it.

Geoff.
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:12 PM
TomL_12953 TomL_12953 is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Forbin376 View Post
Oh what has been lost: Once upon a time I had a Mylar paper tape of the MITS 12K BASIC Version 3.2 that was loaded into my Altair 8800 A by an ASR-33 Teletype and a MITS 2SIO board!
Do you remember if you had to load a small program BEFORE the loader to set your 2SIO to 8-N-2 rather than the 7-E-2 that the Teletype needs and then run another AFTER BASIC is loaded to put it back to 7-E-2? The MITS BASIC manual doesn't say it's necessary but the bootloader site says it is and it makes sense that it would be.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:35 PM
Forbin376 Forbin376 is offline
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Default ASR-33 and 88-2SIO

I always ran mine as 8-N-2 for all operations. ALtair BASIC itself does not care as it strips any incomming parity bit (as does CP/M) by ANDing the incomming data with 7F Hex (177 octal). During the "boot" process the ASR-33 (or in my case the Remex tape reader) sends 8 bit data that is not stripped by the loader programs but simply stored as "Byte" data.

Frank.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:51 PM
Forbin376 Forbin376 is offline
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Default Paper Tape Loaders - back then

Thanks Geoff. I used to have the loaders committed to memory but that was 30 some years ago. I had made a laminated card with the main 88-2SIO loader on it for the 12K 3.2 Altair BASIC and actually taught my new wife to toggle it in (in octal) and "boot" the Altair so that she could then load a BASIC program that collected billing information for classified ads in a local newspaper. The program produced an "error checked" paper tape (file) that then went to a timeshared PDP-10 to do the actual invoice printing on the high-speed line printer. The Altair was helping to earn its keep from the very start! In 1978 I was quite proud to say that my "girlfriend" was both cute and tech. savvy! Now after just celebrating our 30 year anniversary in June I’m happy to say that “both” are still running well!

Frank
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  #8  
Old 07-28-2008, 01:02 AM
n0jcf n0jcf is offline
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Default paper tapes and rubber bands-- not good after 30 yrs

I have been performing archeology on hundreds of paper tapes I received with my vintage 680b and tty model 33... and have found that the rubber bands that were used to keep the tapes in a roll have melted into various piles of goo, stains and other strange forms that have made a mess of a lot of the tapes. The really sad one is an original MITS assembler/editor tape set for the 680b in an UNOPENED bag that has two rubber bands melted all over the tapes inside the bag.

Clearly the oil on the tapes has accelerated the demise of the rubber bands. Does anyone have any techniques for further dissolving the rubber while safely preserving the tapes?

It's really a mess... sad.

Chris
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2008, 01:06 AM
Geoff Harrison Geoff Harrison is offline
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The first thing I thought of was the old trick for removing gum from someone's hair: try freezing it. Put one of the tapes in the freezer for a couple of hours and see if the gummy rubber gets hard enough to crack off without damaging the paper.

Geoff.
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