Waterloo MicroWAT ?

From: Heinz Wolter <h.wolter_at_sympatico.ca>
Date: Fri Dec 31 21:44:32 2004

Microwat! - never thought I'd hear that name again!
Not, it's not a SuperPet. Not even close. Noting shared
with Commodore's schematics. No memory mapped video,
no VIAS. Instead it had 2x 6551 ACIAS and 3x
16/32K memory cards for a total of 96K, bank switched.
It had an unreliable memory design, TTL control with LS123
one shots to generate ras/cas. It was designed by the CSG =
Computer Systems Group of the Univeristy of Waterloo
and Jerry Krist of Northern Digital.(still existing as a company)
It used a bank switched eprom board (2532's ?) to run boot/
the monitor and Waterloo Structured interpreted languages
(Which were themselves written in a weird C-like compiled
 language called WSL= Waterloo Systems Language)
The Microwat could run a Commodore IEEE disk drive, a but
needed an external serial terminal for stdio. Usually Volker Craig terms
were used, but in a bid to sell to the Ontario School Board
- Keynote Designs made a special Z80 board that had
16 level gray scale graphics emulating a tek4015. I world on a colour
prototyp cga resolution display system for that education computer bit.
The most interesting thing in that whole system was that
Wes Graham (of Watfor fortran compiler fame) had
written a copyrighted poem (Haiku) that was an unencrypted
key required to run the software. The designers chose the rarest,
hardest to program most obscure Harris 3 supply fuse proms to use,
so it could not be easily copied. The Superpet didn't inherit the proms.
Northern Digital lost the bid as it went to the Cemcorp Bionic Beaver
based on an intel 186 and TI DSP for sound...but the Microwat
lived on many years in the undergrad CS labs for teaching 6809 assembler.
A version with the Keynote terminal and an internal card cage was use and
networked (or what passed for networks) with IEEE and RS232.
Later, Jerry got cancer and sold the company which became
a huge success selling 3d Optical trackers to the medical and movie
Jerry subsequently died of cancer after spending his last days running
a pig farm - his lifelong dream.. The company in it's early days
had half a dozen people and sometimes the paychecks were a
few months late - but it was that 90 hr a week camaraderie
that made you forget that. I'll never forget -Jerry taught me how to use a
Rest his soul..-h

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Dunfield" <dave04a_at_dunfield.com>
To: <cctalk_at_classiccmp.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 30, 2004 7:00 PM
Subject: Re: Waterloo MicroWAT ?

> At 15:33 30/12/2004 -0800, you wrote:
> >> Anyone here know anything about the "MicroWAT" computer, which was
> >> developed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada around 1980.
> >>
> >> I just acquired one - this is a small 6809 based computer, which I am
> >> told is very similar/somewhat compatible with the Waterloo 6809
> >> in the Commodore SuperPET.
> >
> >Actually, according to my information, it *is* a SuperPET. See
> >
> > http://www.floodgap.com/retrobits/ckb/secret/pet.html
> Thanks - I too found this reference, however it is in error - the MicroWAT
I have is
> actually a stand-alone computer in a small box with a power supply, small
card cage,
> three serial ports and an IEEE connector (I have one here in front of me).
> I also did uncover a Waterloo document entitled:
> "Waterloo Microcomputer Systems for the 1980's"
> by D.D. Cowan and J.W. Graham at the University of Waterloo
> in which they describe the MicroWAT and the SuperPET as separate systems:
> "It was noted that on campus there were more than 1000 'dumb' ASCII
terminals, mostly
> with CRTs and keyboards, and a study was initiated to consider the
problems in their
> conversion to personal workstations meeting our specifications. The study
led to the
> design of the microWAT a prototype of which became operational in December
1980 ..."
> "The microWAT is a computer system of one or more circuit boards mounted
on a rather
> simple bus. A typical system consists of 4 cards, namely the CPU card, 48K
RAM card,
> 64k bank-switched ROM card and the IEEE-488 bus interface card. The system
can be
> mounted inside most of our ASCII terminals ... If desired or necessary,
the microWAT
> can be mounted in its own chassis with it's own power supply."
> "At the same time as the development of the microWAT, we investigated the
> of expanding existing microcomputers by providing them with a large memory
so that they
> could incorporate our planned software. We modified a PET microcomputer by
adding 64k
> of bank-switched RAM, a 6809 microprocessor and an RS232 interface. This
> eventually let to the Commodore SuperPET which is a personal workstation
similar to the
> microWAT".
> >From there it goes on to describe the waterloo software and languages,
with no real
> distinction between the microWAT the the SuperPET - so the above is really
all I know
> for certain about the microWAT, however it does appear to be distinct
from, but related
> to the SuperPET.
> Once the holidays are over, I will contact the curator of the York museum
in Toronto,
> as I am certain that he has mentioned to me in past conversation a
stand-alone 6809 based
> system that was developed at Waterloo - perhaps he will be able to fill in
some details,
> however if anyone else has information to offer, please do step forward.
> Regards,
> Dave
> --
> dave04a (at) Dave Dunfield
> dunfield (dot) Firmware development services & tools: www.dunfield.com
> com Collector of vintage computing equipment:
> http://www.parse.com/~ddunfield/museum/index.html
Received on Fri Dec 31 2004 - 21:44:32 GMT

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