[Intel-devsys] irmx-80 diskettes

Roger Arrick Roger at Arrick.com
Fri Aug 16 13:15:01 MDT 2019

Really enjoying this thread.
Would love for there to be a single webpage for how to deal with MDS 
1/2/etc floppies.  With specifics on hooking up an 8" drive to a PC, 
links to archives, etc.  Would go a long way to keeping these old 
systems going.

Roger Arrick
Roger at Arrick.com
Tyler, TX

Bill Beech (NJ7P) wrote:
> Jon,
> Good discussion.  I was kind of out of it during some of this.  I 
> vaguely remember the filling of a matrix of programs in the 95 and 97 
> series.
> Attached is a picture of the disk label for 9500018-03. 
> I think we are going to need to document the hardware, software, and 
> method used to pull the images off the floppies.  I would be glad to 
> place these "howtos" on the web and in the google drive.
> I seem to be way behind on the imaging stuff with Dave's tools.  I am 
> glad to see Mark has transitioned from Dave's C to a VS implementation 
> on some of the tools.  This is good.  I need to get a box running with 
> an FDC that will read SD and DD disk sectors.  I have NEVER had any PC 
> that would do SD and work with Dave's tools! I believe I have an Adaptec 
> board that will do it.  We will see over the weekend.
> Bill
> On 8/16/2019 1:52 AM, Jon Hales wrote:
>> Herb, Bill, cc Mark and others
>> It's good to see your discussions.
>> This is a note on two topics:
>> - getting at the files on Intel M2FM-encoded DD disks,
>> - the exercise I reported around a year ago, where I imagined a 
>> comprehensive list of Intel MDS software releases.
>> Part 1.
>> As Herb reported, Mark Ogden has a great deal of experience at working 
>> with images of Intel disks. He also has a substantial collection of 
>> files extracted from particular disks. The 'Intel80' directory 
>> contains files for iRMX80 2.4 and iRMX80 4.0. I'm sure Mark will be 
>> very interested to see what Bill has on his disks with version 1.3.
>> Building on his knowledge of Intel's disk organisation, Mark wrote a 
>> program to help me with several collections of Intel double-density 
>> disks to which I I have access. The process starts with me making a 
>> track-by-track recording of the disk using a device that identifies 
>> flux transitions. There are now several such devices, but two of these 
>> have only embryonic software support. It's likely that the programming 
>> would need some adjustment for each variety. The device I was using 
>> saves each track as a separate file, with 77 files for the tracks of a 
>> single-sided disk (all MDS disks are single-sided). [A further detail: 
>> by default, the system I'm using reads each track six times and saves 
>> six copies of the flux transitions - one can pick the copy of a sector 
>> that has fewest bad values].
>> Mark's program idd2imd.exe can operate on a single track or on a 
>> zipfile containing all the tracks from a disk. It outputs a file in 
>> Imagedisk (Dave Dunfield) standard (with optional diagnostic data, 
>> such as a histogram of the time interval values on the track). Given 
>> an IMD image, Mark's program unidsk.exe, works out the filesystem and 
>> assembles the sectors into the files on the disk. These files are 
>> written to a directory named after the disk name. An additional text 
>> file provides the 'directory' of the disk, together with information 
>> about each file on the disk.
>> [In parentheses: 
>> 1. Mark's idd2imd program works with flux transitions from single 
>> density (FM) and double density (MFM) as well as M2FM disks.
>> 2. Mark has recently adapted his algorithm to provide a means of 
>> building the files from the sectors recovered from Zilog (ZDOS and 
>> RIO) 32 hard sector disks. In addition to the files, the program gives 
>> a summary of the types of data in sectors and shows a map of sectors 
>> across the entire disk].
>> Now, I should point out that this is not exactly comparable to 
>> producing, for example, an Imagedisk image of a CP/M disk (encoded in 
>> FM or MFM). In the CP/M case, an Imagedisk file allows the user to 
>> write a fresh disk that is a copy of the original disk. This doesn't 
>> apply to M2FM due to limitations of the disk controller IC in PCs of 
>> the DOS era. [To be clear: Imagedisk can make a valid image of an 
>> Intel single-density disk, as Herb indicated].
>> If we want a copy of an M2FM disk, then the simple way to create it is 
>> using the Intel 'copy' utility. [The 'Richard Main' Hobbytronics 
>> Serial-to-USB device is another way to 'export' tracks and have the 
>> ability to write a copy of the original double-density disk].
>> Part 2
>> Starting with a list of known '95xxxx-xx' and '97xxxx-xxx' (single and 
>> double-density) disks, I tried to imagine what the universe of Intel's 
>> software releases might look like. For example, if the suffix of a 
>> known disk was '-03', I reasoned that probably there had previously 
>> been versions '-01' and '-02', even if these had never been released 
>> to customers. By analogy, I also reasoned that if no known disk had a 
>> specific code number, then that might well mean that this was a rarely 
>> used program, but one that was likely to have existed.
>> As I explained in a note accompanying a draft list, we could use the 
>> list in at least these ways:
>> 1. to check the identification of disk numbers and titles across 
>> repositories. (e.g. for consistency, to over-ride abbreviations, etc.)
>> 2. to speculate about the existence of disks we haven't seen,
>> 3. to establish a framework into which new discoveries can be fitted,
>> 4. to estimate what fraction of the 'universe' the existing 
>> repositories represent (at the time the list was compiled, this was 54 
>> of a possible 183 titles).
>> Bill's iRMX-80 disks fit neatly into the scheme, with one exception: 
>> the number '9500018-xx'/'9700018-xx' is already occupied by PROM 
>> programming software, as located in three of the repositories.
>> Best regards
>> Jon
>> On Fri, 16 Aug 2019 at 00:21, Herb Johnson 
>> <hjohnson at retrotechnology.com <mailto:hjohnson at retrotechnology.com>> 
>> wrote:
>>     Thanks Bill, this is very comprehensive. A few comments.
>>     You might do the easy thing first: read off the single-density disks.
>>     YOu could do that in CP/M on a CP/M box, or with Dunfield's
>>     imagedsk on
>>     an MS-DOS box. In any event you can verify the disk scheme.
>>     DD M2FM is harder. But you might ask Mark Ogden about it. (now this
>>     conversation is in the Intel-dev list, Mark can speak for himself.)
>>     He's created a lot of files from Intel disk sources. He's rewritten
>>     Dunfield tools to run under Windows. He may have a tool to run under
>>     ISIS, or be willing to write one.
>>       https://github.com/ogdenpm/disktools/tree/master/unidsk
>>     Unpacks an isis .imd or .img file into the individual files.
>>          Supports ISIS II SD, ISIS II DD, ISIS III and ISIS IV
>>     There is an old CP/M program to read ISIS diskettes, look in the
>>     CPMUG.
>>     I retrieved it decades ago to read DEC RT-11 diskettes. (And I did
>>     tonight, it's in CPMUG #1. I'll zip it up and send it to Bill.)
>>     No hurry on this, Bill of course, you have a full plate.
>>     Regards,
>>     Herb
>>     On 8/15/2019 5:38 PM, Bill Beech (NJ7P) wrote:
>>     > Herb,
>>     >
>>     > Indeed I have 5 each 8-inch disks here for RMX/80.
>>     >
>>     > They are:
>>     > 9500013-03 Ver 1.3, RMX/80 Real-time Multitasking executive for
>>     iSBC
>>     > 80/20 and 80/20-4, SD.
>>     > 9500018-03 Ver 1.3, RMX/80 Real-time Multitasking executive for
>>     iSBC
>>     > 80/10, SD.
>>     > 9700016-03, Ver 1.3, RMX/80 Real-time Multitasking executive for
>>     iSBC
>>     > 80/20 and 80/20-4, DD.
>>     > 9700020-03, Ver 1.3, RMX/80 Extensions for iSBC 80/10, iSBC 80/20,
>>     > 80/20-4, and 80/30, DD.
>>     > 9700021-03, Ver 1.3, RMX/80 Real-time Multitasking executive for
>>     iSBC
>>     > 80/10, DD.
>>     >
>>     > The SD disks should not be hard to copy.  The DD may be
>>     trickier.  I
>>     > suspect they are in 3740 format SD but M2FM format DD.  I
>>     suspect I will
>>     > need to write a program for the MDS II to create an image file
>>     on the
>>     > PC.  I need to think about it some more, once I get the other
>>     board for
>>     > Jon H. done and both tested. And I need to get some simulators to
>>     > compile again and run, at least as far as the monitors are
>>     concerned.  I
>>     > also need to get versions of CP/M-80 to run on the OEM
>>     simulators.  I
>>     > also have several books I have collected to scan. So my queue is
>>     pretty
>>     > full!
>>     >
>>     > Bill
>>     >
>>     > On 8/15/2019 9:34 AM, Herb Johnson wrote:
>>     >> Biil, someone asked me about 8-inch diskettes with iRMX-80 on
>>     them. Of
>>     >> course I don't have them. So I started looking around for this.
>>     This
>>     >> doesn't seem to be available "on the Web" or among the intel-dev
>>     >> archives.
>>     >>
>>     >> I searched your Intel Google Drive and then the archive of our
>>     >> Intel-dev discussion, for mention of iRMX-80. The only significant
>>     >> mention is your Sept 2018 purchase of five iRMX-80 diskettes from
>>     >> eBay. I didn't find subsequent email traffic on your results with
>>     >> those diskettes. And I don't see any iRMX80 disk images in any
>>     of the
>>     >> by-person folders in your Google drive. I checked Mark Ogden's
>>     gethub;
>>     >> no iRMX80 stuff there. One other reference but it seems a dead
>>     end.
>>     >> I'll detail it as a PS.
>>     >>
>>     >> Bill, it is still a good "find" to have disks with iRMX-80.
>>     Thanks for
>>     >> spending the $$$ to get them. I know doing work is tough for you;
>>     >> there's no priority for this just because somebody asked me
>>     about it.
>>     >> But what's the status of those physical diskettes, and were you
>>     able
>>     >> to image them in some fashion?
>>     >>
>>     >> Regards, Herb
>>     >>
>>     >> PS: Jon Hales did something with a bunch of Intel diskette
>>     >> label-descriptions posted around Aug 2018. Mark Ogden commented
>>     about
>>     >> the list, and mentioned this:
>>     >>
>>     >> 950017.06 looks like irmx80 v2.4
>>     >>
>>     >> I have no idea what Jon was doing. But I could not find a
>>     disk-image
>>     >> with that 950017.06 designation.
>>     >>
>>     >>
>>     >
>>     >
>>     -- 
>>     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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