The Molecular SuperMicro 70-32

From: Douglas Quebbeman <>
Date: Mon Jul 17 12:55:21 2000

One of the more interesting microcomputers I used during my
career was a Molecular SuperMicro 70-32. This machine had a
unique architecture in that it was a file server and client
machines and LAN all wrapped in one box.

The file server was a 6 mHz Z80 board, and it had an onboard
SASI interface (or was this late enough to be SCSI) as well
as a floppy interface. Our unit had a QIC-24 tape drive and
a 60MB hard drive... the HD was fast for its time. Molecular
referred to the file server as the file processor.

The client computers were boards that plugged into the bus,
and were each 4 mHz Z-80 units. All I/O was through the bus.
These client nodes were referred to as the Application Pro-

The Supermicro's main operating system was called N*Star,
and provided most of the MP/M-II API/OS calls, but not all
of them, and IIRC, it provided some of its own and seemed
to have some from another CP/M clone whose name escapes me.

You could boot the file processor from the floppy drive into

The "bus" was actually configured as a network, using CSMA/CA
to handle the traffic.

It seemed to run just about every CP/M package we could throw
at it. However, while I recall spending lots of time customizing
a copy of ZCPR/2 for the Televideo TS-803, I don't recall doing
this for N*Star, so there may have been some compatiability

I think it *did* run Microshell, though (which was my first
"brush" with Un*x).

N*Star used password-based security, and was apparantly easy
to hack. One of the digital electronics instructors at the school
who generally played dumb when it came to newer technology still
remains the primary candidate for the hacker who made my life
miserable. I got some quid pro quo later, but that's another

Irv Hoff had one or worked on one, as I found a patch for the
OS he'd authored whilst playing data recovery mule this weekend.
I also recall that someone had a software package running on
one that acted just like Compuserve; everything was GO commands
and it had forums that worked identically.

Has this machine been a subject of discussion on the list before
now? Anyone else used one/have one?

-doug quebbeman
Received on Mon Jul 17 2000 - 12:55:21 BST

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