Autor Wątek: Timex TC3256  (Przeczytany 3280 razy)

Johnny Red

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #15 dnia: 2020.04.10, 03:20:08 »
The article says that the added value of TC2356 would be some "professional software". I know that one of these programs is TimeWord+, which was also offered for TC2068 as a cartridge. Do you think this program is available anywhere?
For now we know this machine was not loved among workers on Timex of Portugal and they probably saw that it would be a flop since companies were searching for more expensive computers.
The "professional software" was probably software for CP/M on the FDD3000. I don't see the cartridge be usable since it looks like it would use same cartridge size/specs as the ones for 2068.
I was expecting more from Timex since this machine looks like it is a mix of some features of 128K (RAM disk), BASIC64, IF1 ZXNet, TT3000 and a 2068 with TimeWord. It probably would use the same SCLD and it still is a Z80A 3.5Mhz machine.

Johnny Red

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #16 dnia: 2020.04.10, 03:45:26 »
About the keyboard keys: I own 2 TT3000 and they have different key design.
TC3256 probably used another set.



We can see a glimpse of startup screen on the blue picture (I turned it to grayscale). Scan quality is a bit poor, unfortunately it's not mine).

trojacek

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #17 dnia: 2020.04.10, 09:57:44 »
For now we know this machine was not loved among workers on Timex of Portugal and they probably saw that it would be a flop since companies were searching for more expensive computers.

In my opinion TC2356 would aim at schools, as well as the SOHO & entertainment markets. People having TC2068 or 2048 would gladly "upgrade" keeping all their tapes, disks and cartridges. On the other hand, this computer would have to be very cheap, as the world has already upgraded - to 16 bits.

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The "professional software" was probably software for CP/M on the FDD3000.

Well, CP/M was also available for previous models working with FDD3000, so there would be no breakthrough. I would expect some Timex-exclusive titles, like TimeWord for example. Maybe they were planning some new development - a spreadsheet, a database, who knows. They did make quite an effort with the new Basic, anyway.

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I was expecting more from Timex since this machine looks like it is a mix of some features of 128K (RAM disk), BASIC64, IF1 ZXNet, TT3000 and a 2068 with TimeWord. It probably would use the same SCLD and it still is a Z80A 3.5Mhz machine.

Until then, the idea of "being better than Sinclair" worked fine for Timex (just compare TC2048 to Spectrum 48K). Their designers faced a new competitor (+2/+3), and had to offer more of everything: more RAM, more connectivity, and - of course - a better quality. So, as you wrote, they put everything possible in one case, happily a bigger one than TC2048's, so it could accomodate more ICs. I don't think they would invest in a new LSI/VLSI chip, so yes, they took the very same SCLD... Somehow disappointing, you're right. All in all, it looks like a compilation of production leftovers - TT3000's case and keyboard, ICs, even the PSU is an ordinary FDD PSU with 5/12/-12V outputs.

Damianx

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: 2020.04.10, 17:20:30 »
So TC3256 could be a 2048 on steroids.?
Spectrum512k - Spectrum+128k - +2A - +3 Pear Ay - TC2048 S-VIDEO - Didaktik Gama80k\192k- A4000\060 - A1200\030 - A600\9tails - CD32 - A500 GVP Impact II - C64\SD2IEC\DualSID - Atari130XE\SIO2SD\Stereo - CA2001 - CPC6128\HXC - Atari Mega Ste UltraSatan.

Johnny Red

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #19 dnia: 2020.04.10, 23:43:56 »
For now we know this machine was not loved among workers on Timex of Portugal and they probably saw that it would be a flop since companies were searching for more expensive computers.

In my opinion TC2356 would aim at schools, as well as the SOHO & entertainment markets. People having TC2068 or 2048 would gladly "upgrade" keeping all their tapes, disks and cartridges. On the other hand, this computer would have to be very cheap, as the world has already upgraded - to 16 bits.

Well it did had TENET...
We still don't know how they implemented the "Timex Extended Commands" to ZX BASIC. As 2068 ROM broke things, 3256 ROM could broke even more. Until a machine surfaces the earth, we will be in doubt.

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The "professional software" was probably software for CP/M on the FDD3000.

Well, CP/M was also available for previous models working with FDD3000, so there would be no breakthrough. I would expect some Timex-exclusive titles, like TimeWord for example. Maybe they were planning some new development - a spreadsheet, a database, who knows. They did make quite an effort with the new Basic, anyway.
I got  FLEXICALC, FLEXIFILE and FLEXIWRITE for FDD3000. Must use TT3000 since those are 80 collumn programs.

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I was expecting more from Timex since this machine looks like it is a mix of some features of 128K (RAM disk), BASIC64, IF1 ZXNet, TT3000 and a 2068 with TimeWord. It probably would use the same SCLD and it still is a Z80A 3.5Mhz machine.

Until then, the idea of "being better than Sinclair" worked fine for Timex (just compare TC2048 to Spectrum 48K). Their designers faced a new competitor (+2/+3), and had to offer more of everything: more RAM, more connectivity, and - of course - a better quality. So, as you wrote, they put everything possible in one case, happily a bigger one than TC2048's, so it could accomodate more ICs. I don't think they would invest in a new LSI/VLSI chip, so yes, they took the very same SCLD... Somehow disappointing, you're right. All in all, it looks like a compilation of production leftovers - TT3000's case and keyboard, ICs, even the PSU is an ordinary FDD PSU with 5/12/-12V outputs.
I can confirm it was the size of a TT3000. The board should use all space as TT3000 but not like the TT3000 with keyboard switches on mainboard.
About the PSU, Timex was no longer selling the FDD3 at the time so there were a lot of spare FDD3 cases and you are probably right, they used every thing  they got to make a "new" machine.

Johnny Red

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #20 dnia: 2020.04.10, 23:52:56 »
So TC3256 could be a 2048 on steroids.?
Maybe yes, maybe not. I see it more of a 2068 with addons. Timeword is probably on a "SCLD memory bank" as well as TT3000 ROM.

trojacek

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #21 dnia: 2020.04.12, 18:20:45 »
I see it more of a 2068 with addons.

And with a much better keyboard, judging from the pictures.

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Timeword is probably on a "SCLD memory bank" as well as TT3000 ROM.

I am not sure what would an "SCLD memory bank" mean, but TimeWord (and TT3000 ROM as well) works fine as a main ROM, where in TC2048 normally is Basic ROM.

I assume there is a 27512 (64Kx8) EPROM, divided in 4 banks 16K each:
- main bank with:
  - boot menu,
  - TOS routines (around 4 KB, as M397's ROM),
  - TEC routines (including 64/85 column printing, RAM disk, hi-res DRAW!/PLOT! - I'd say 8-10 KB),
- Standard Basic bank, so 16 KB,
- TimeWord+ (the version for TC2068 is also 16 KB),
- 80-column CP/M Terminal bank (TT3000 ROM also takes 16 KB).

Invoking TEC commands seems pretty standard - you have TOS commands suffixed with "*"and new RAM disc/graphic/sound commands suffixed with "!". In both cases, Basic tries to print an error using RST 8 command, so that's the best way to switch from Basic to TEC ROM.

As I wrote before, there must be an additional memory page register, for both ROM and RAM. It would take 2 bits to control ROM pages (if the bit 7 of the port 255/#FF is not used, otherwise one bit would do). Another 2 bits of this register would choose a 64K RAM block, becoming available when setting a desired bit (or bits) to 1 in the port 244/#F4. Block 0 is the Basic 48 main RAM, i.e. available on boot without any need to set in the port 244.

Two more bits of the memory bank register would allow to expand RAM to 1 MB. Remaining 2 bits must be used for some other purposes - like enabling/strobing TENET chip (probably an Intel '31 or '51 MCU, as in the TENET prototype).

That's a nice bunch of speculations, isn't it? ;) But this is how I would design it, given the old SCLD and not much funds for the project.
« Ostatnia zmiana: 2020.04.12, 19:11:43 wysłana przez trojacek »

Johnny Red

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Odp: Timex TC3256
« Odpowiedź #22 dnia: 2020.04.13, 01:29:47 »
I am not sure what would an "SCLD memory bank" mean, but TimeWord (and TT3000 ROM as well) works fine as a main ROM, where in TC2048 normally is Basic ROM.

As the 2068 have 3 memory banks (HOME/EXROM/DOCK), this machine could have 4 or 5 banks like the 2068 ones.

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That's a nice bunch of speculations, isn't it? ;) But this is how I would design it, given the old SCLD and not much funds for the project.

Yes it is. And your idea is the same I had.

trojacek

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« Odpowiedź #23 dnia: 2020.04.13, 09:06:33 »
As the 2068 have 3 memory banks (HOME/EXROM/DOCK), this machine could have 4 or 5 banks like the 2068 ones.

Exactly! For HOME/EXROM/DOCK banks, the SCLD line /BE is high. If you detach these banks with the #E4 port, then /BE goes down in order to enable external memory - an extra RAM in this case.

A pity we don't have at least the ROM dump, so we could reverse engineer everything...