new find: an Intel MDS 800

From: Scott Stevens <>
Date: Tue Oct 26 19:00:03 2004

I recently acquired an exciting new (old) machine, an Intel MDS 800,
known as the 'Blue Box.' It's the 1975-era 8080 based box that kicked
off CP/M.

My particular machine was intended as an 8051 ICE box, it has the 8051
emulator pod and external PROM programmer.

The system came complete with a big box of what appears to be complete
docs and a lot of software on 8" disks. There are four or more
different versions of IRIS, a disk labeled 'CPM' which I hope is a
boot disk, and multiple versions of other Intel tools, including the
targeted 8051 development tools.

I paid a fair amount for this system, and am going to go slowly at
bringing it up. It's been stored a long time and there's a troubling
amount of surface rust on some of the screw heads and exposed

I've popped it open and some of the ICs (mostly TTL) have corrosion on
the leads. I have a few opening questions for others who have
restored hardware in similar condition: should I remove the corrosion
on IC leads, or do I run the risk of 'removing' the leads. The
circuit boards look really good, so worst-case I will replace some of
the chips.

What is the opinion about this kind of servicing? The chips in
question are all (so far as I have investigated) common 7400 series
(some Schottky) TTL gates. Do people consider it as 'damaging' to the
'credentials' of a piece of classic hardware to replace chips with
others with significantly different date codes?

This is going to be a long term project for me, I fear, because I want
to do it right. This machine has a built-in CRT display so I might be
forced to do some (something I almost always refuse to do these days)
video monitor troubleshooting.

The machine has a built-in 8" floppy, which I assume is the
low-density original, and an expansion case (third party) with two
newer and higher density drives.

Is there a source for new or NOS 8" floppies out there? One thing for
certain that I'll be doing early after getting this machine up and
running is a backup of all the media that came with it (a fair amount,
probably 30-50 disks, many of which are Intel branded originals).

Lots more questions and comments likely to come on this project.

Received on Tue Oct 26 2004 - 19:00:03 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:37:24 BST