[vcf-midatlantic] Godbout Static (RAM) But Not Lost

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Wed Nov 14 18:29:46 EST 2018

I got the news about Bill Godbout from Evan, a few days ago. Today I got 
a request from a reporter/blogger for a Godbout catalog image. I don't 
have any of his early catalogs; there are of course magazine ad-pages 
from Godbout. Can anyone share a PDF of one of his catalogs?

What I sent, was the cover shot of the 1987 Dec Morrow Owners Review, a 
magazine published to support the Morrow MD series desktop CP/M systems. 
Did ja know, Morrow produced real PC's? We mostly remember his S-100 
cards, and older engineers remember his sales of components before that. 
I recently obtained a Morrow MD-15 system, with a pile of Morrow MOR 
magazines. I'm trying to get the hard-drive running, but it boots 128K 
CP/M right now. I'll show it on my Web site in December.

Morrow also co-authored the IEEE-696 specification; essentially the 
Morrow/Compupro S-100 bus architecture. 16 bit data, 24 bit address - 
enough to run 386-class systems into the 1990's. A lot of MS-DOS 
development work was done with S-100 systems; video processing systems 
at TV stations too. That bus did good work for a long time.

Morrow and Compupro S-100 cards were well built, well documented; most 
can still run today. A dual 8085/88 CPU can run MS-DOS and two flavors 
of CP/M. No small feat in 1981 or thereabouts. Those cards were produced 
before MS-DOS existed; designers had 8088's ready to use but no CP/M to 
run them, people like Morrow and others. This forced the creation of a 
DOS which became MS-DOS, a story often told.

So, there's a fundamental reason to remember Bill Godbout, and the work 
he and his cohorts did. They worked at a time when resources were 
SCARCE, not abundant. There were no computers to help design other 
computers (unless you borrowed time from a university). I doubt most 
Morrow hardware was designed on CAD PC layout systems; most 
microcomputer boards were hand-taped, red and blue tape for two-sided 
boards! Chips were not cheap, PC boards were not cheap to produce - no 
offshore boards in the 1970's!

And most people and businesses weren't wealthy in the 1970's. IBM sold 
PC's in the 80's to the Fortune 500, the 500 biggest companies in 
America (the world, same thing). That was much easier after Godbout et 
all did the groundwork. The microcomputer revolution was a bottom-up 
proposition, not a top-down. Bill Godbout and his colleagues, remind us 
how to do HARD work, start from LIMITED resources, to build an industry, 
and to make a market, from near-zero.

There will be another time, when we will have to do that again, start 
from little. Do you think 21st century engineers and programmers, know 
how to do that? This is why history of technology matters; to preserve 
how they did, what they did. Do you think laptops and smart phones will 
run 30, 40 years from now? Or be repairable when they aren't? Another 
lesson to preserve. And that's my long view.

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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