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The Retro trip and the missing ports

 
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quinbus_flestrin



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject: The Retro trip and the missing ports Reply with quote

I want to know what happened to the serial and parallel ports in Windoze... specifically XP and XP Tablet please?

I was involved, many years ago, with arguably the the first hand-held pc... the Atari Portfolio. Essentially an XT pc in your hand.
It had some odd quirks, as most computers did at that time (late eighties) but communication with PCs was a doddle.
The Portfolio had no ports fitted... unless you count a very odd implementation of a pcmcia port... they were added when necessary as pods, which fitted on one end. There was a parallel and a serial. Neither turned out to be exactly what they claimed, but they worked well enough for file transfers.

Wind forward to the present.

We have an "old" tin box here in the study... it runs an Arthritic Athlon 3500+ on a gig of memory with a couple of 100Gig-ish hard disk drives... neither of which are SATAs.
The motherboard is an ATX form, so there is both a serial and a parallel port, which are hard-wired.
Control Panel / System shows Com1 at 3F8... right where it used to be.
Control Panel / System shows ECP Printer Port (LPT1) at 378... also where it always used to be.
But they don't work the way they used to.

The tiny Portfolio Parallel File Transfer program doesn't... transfer... any more.
A detour on to the Portfolio serial port pod shows a similar situation.

A control check... on a Tosh Satellite 4040CDT... has it all working fine and shows me at least that I was not missing in action when these ports went AWOL.

To test things a bit more, I made an enhanced boot disc with MSDOS 7.1, for the tin box, and I booted the system from that.

Then the parallel port on this ATX board sat up and took notice, and file transfers occurred just as they do on the Tosh.

It would therefore appear that XP is "perverting" the parallel port in some way.

So... accept the fact the old Portfolio is an antique... like me... and walk away?
No... that never works for me.

We also have a Tosh Portege M400 Tablet on XP Tablet... which has none of these physical ports at all... and points the way that these appear to be are going.
And we have a Medion Pentium 4 Laptop on XP Pro here too... which actually has a 9 pin serial port... but also won't talk to the old Portfolio.
It's so close too.
There's a prog which turns the Portfolio into a sort of serial terminal, written by Atari Australia. It lets me get directories off the Portfolio via Hyperterm (in Windoze)... and even in the "enhanced" version that they do as well... and it displays the Atari Australia prog's sign-on screen too. But if you try for a file transfer, text or binary, it just hangs.

I bought a pcmcia parallel port... but like the USB to Parallel lead I got hold of a week earlier, it actually provides "Printer Support", which is tantamount to a politician's claim to care about his constituents deeply. ie. not worth anything much... when all printers are USB now.
Furthermore, it locates the parallel port... or what actually passes for one... at FFE8... right out of the way... just like your MPs expense claims, and the extortion that you are allowed to pay for the police you never see and whom you no longer believe or can trust any more.

Working with MSDOS 7.1 on the laptops is not really too problematical on the older Medion... but the Tablet definitely doesn't like it... it boots MSDOS 7.1 very reluctantly... and then when called upon to go back To XP, it sits and sulks for about three minutes in something called an Intel loader.
The Medion's serial port still won't transfer in DOS anyway.

The original old pc port design was far from simple, and definitely not satisfactory... but after all this time... it seemed to work... more or less. Of course it demanded drivers and sometimes a bit more support...
And I do aggree that USBs' seemingly automatic device support is largely preferable to the sometimes odd situations we found ourselves in with drivers.

I've loooked all over for an explanation of where the ports went, what they are now... or are not perhaps... and in my case... what I can do besides cheat... and just do any transfers from the Portfolio to the Sat.
I'm awating a response now from a pcmcia card manufacturer (coincidentally Australian), who make a parallel port which can relocate in memory, to see if that avenue presents any possibilites.

Code:
http://www.ieci.com.au/products/Product_Page2.asp?Product_ID=113


I don't really want to use the old Portfolio seriously any more, or even necessarily transfer any supposedly vital files... hell we use little HTC Ameo hand-held/mobile phone/Wifi pcs as much as we use the Tablet and the laptop. and they all run rings around these old Portfolios... but you know, sometimes a look back at the past gives a fresh perspective and a new insight into the present and perhaps the future. And if nothing else, this experience has highlighted a few areas for me which had simply faded away into the background without me noticing it seems.

I don't think I'm going to come up with either a solution or a reason for this, so I now ask potentially wiser heads for them.

Next up, I think that I might have a stab at reading a stack of ancient DC2120 data tapes that I found during the acheological dig for things like my old null-modem cable. That cable was pressed back into service, from it's long retirement... in a bin-bag... in the basement, especially for this Portfolio issue.

Anyway, those of you who can... or have the time to read through all of this... please give the problem your consideration.
And, if like me you still can't really figure it out, then according to the late Douglas Adams... the secret is to keep banging the rocks together.
Now that I can do.

QF
_________________
No one who actually wants to be a politician should ever be allowed to be one.
Similarly... no one who actually wants to be a policeman should ever be allowed to be one either.
Both desires are definitively indicative of an unhealthy psychology.
The proof is all around us now.
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SoftStag



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 2049
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 5:24 am    Post subject: ECP? Reply with quote

I think you are correct in saying that Windows perverts the ports. However, it should still be possible to get them to do what you want.

My first impression is that it is possible that the Atari does not support ECP - this is an enhanced, bidirectional protocol for parallel ports. I would suggest going in the the BIOS setup of your PC, and changing this. There should be a section called Integrated Peripherals or similar. You should be able to change the port type here.
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"Microsoft programs are generally bug-free. If you visit the Microsoft hotline, you'll literally have to wait weeks if not months until someone calls in with a bug in one of our programs. 99.99% of calls turn out to be user mistakes. I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes. The reasons for updates are to present more new features."
-- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine
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quinbus_flestrin



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:14 am    Post subject: Re: ECP? Reply with quote

SoftStag wrote:
I think you are correct in saying that Windows perverts the ports. However, it should still be possible to get them to do what you want.

My first impression is that it is possible that the Atari does not support ECP - this is an enhanced, bidirectional protocol for parallel ports. I would suggest going in the the BIOS setup of your PC, and changing this. There should be a section called Integrated Peripherals or similar. You should be able to change the port type here.


Thanks for your consideration.
I really had not thought about that ECP issue.
The reason perhaps was that I was of the impression that ECP was simply normal parallel... and then some... and therefore didn't see it as an issue since normal (old SPP) parallel was now a part of it.
Besides the performance I've had with the serial connection, which has been perhaps more protracted and for less reason, seemed to send me up such a lot of blind alleys. That serial solution used to work on practically anything... and not just for Portfolios.

I now know that eventually Atari admitted that the serial implementation is odd... to say the least it seems. Although how odd I don't know really.

I do know that sales of the serial interface never reached anything like the parallel, but that may have had more to do with the price difference, which was considerable.

However Atari also apparently eventually admitted that the "smart parallel interface"... as it was called, was actually implemented in a peculiar form of serial interface itself.
This was far from peculiar at the time you must understand, when we were treated by Commodore (for one) to a serial implementation of the parallel IEEE interface on all of their Commodore 64 and Vic20 disc drives.

Digging around online reveals that most of the Portfolio sites per se. have now gone, if you discount the burgeoning "computer museum" sites with their brief entries. But from the one remaining site that I have found (and Web Waggoned), with the most useful material, the following Parallel interface material emerged... purely to give us the idea of the nature of the problem...

"This is the minimum configuration of a cable that will do parallel file transfers from a PC compatible to an Atari Portfolio. A 25 pin straight-through cable works, but is too bulky for travel. This minimum configuration cable needs only 6 wires. Both ends are male DB-25 connectors, and the connections are straight across.

2 - 2 Data 0
3 - 3 Data 1
11 - 11 Busy
12 - 12 Paper Error
13 - 13 Select
25 - 25 Ground (This can be any or all pins 18 through 25)"


Simplest way to check for ECP enhancement affecting us in this matter seemed to me to be to check the Satellite first. After all, in it's DOS part of the Win98 2 on there, it does the job. Likewise, when I thought of it, so too does the tin box under DOS 7.1.
Both have the ECP implemented in the hardware.

The Portfolio has it's side of the parallel transfer software implemented in it's ROM, which also has the MSDOS and the software provision... Editor, Address Book, version of Lotus 123 etc. in it too. The basic idea of a built-in ROM software provision was taken up later by the likes of HP in their Jornada 6 and 700 series... we still have a 720 here, although I only use it now for playing MP3 in my workshop I must confess. But the Jornadas had Windoze, not DOS. Our Ameo has Windoze Mobile V6 in what we used to call Eprom... not ROM. So unlike the Portfolio and the Jornada 720, you can upgrade as newer versions as they become available.

( a long-disused neuron fires) Just a short time after the Portfolio was released, for those with deep pockets I now recall, there was a competitor in the shape of a true hand held pc called the Poqet. Never having that kind of money, I never got to find out much more about it except that it was a much more true 512k XT pc in your hand.
There's another neuron that won't get in the way of the onset of alzheimers any more.

The serial port was also catered for, although to a lesser extent, in the ROM but it did require the use of non-ROM terminal software on the Portfolio to operate. A classic Chicken and the Egg scene emerges there. If you have only the serial interface then you may also have the terminal software, but you do not have the means to get in on to the Portfolio.

The Portfolio parallel provision provided a "server" mode. The basic idea is that you run a tiny DOS program (provided by Atari) on the PC or laptop, and the Portfolio acts as a peripheral in a sort of passive fashion. You can list directories and Transfer or Receive files, but that's about all.

A German chap (the Portfolio was bigger there and for longer it seems) evidently divined that later and later versions of Windoze were not conducive to parallel file transfer... as the console or DOS prompt receded perhaps... and created a very simple program called Transfolio, and a (probably) very clever DLL to overcome this.

It doesn't... in our XP(s) anyway.

Whatever XP does that '98 does not with the ports, defeats this too.
And I quote...

"Writing programs to talk with parallel port was pretty easy in old DOS days and in Win95/98 too. We could use Inporb and outportb or _inp() or _Outp functions in our program without any problem if we are running the program on DOS or WIN95/98. But entering to the new era of NT clone operating systems like WIN NT4, WIN2000, WINXP, all this simplicity goes away."

He goes on to explain that programs are apparently written for Windoze which are either User mode or Kernel mode, and with them come restrictions etc.

"The programs you generally write falls in the user mode category. The user mode programs are restricted to use certain instructions like IN, OUT etc.. Whenever the operating system find that a user mode program is trying to execute such instructions , the operating system stops execution of those programs and will display an error message. Eventually our interfacing programs stops where they are executing IN or OUT instructions to read or write data to parallel port. But in the same time Kernel mode programs are in no way restricted in executing such instructions. Device drivers are capable of running in kernel mode."

I dare say that this is all grist to the mill for programmers.
However practically speaking, and from my own experience, it too... hangs.
It will not run in Windoze normally, and when run from the console on tin box, it did produce some very limited results... but oddly enough now...not any longer. Now it simply hangs.

This week I got hold of an IBM pod, comprising a USB connection cable fixed in a small black stick-like box in the side of which are fitted both a nine pin serial, and a 25 pin parallel port. Connecting to the USB port on your device which has no serial or parallel port, it promises to provide you with both. This problem must also have arisen for Thinkpad users.
Firstly on installation in the USB, it demanded drivers, so it is no native USB Windoze device at all.
IBM are now apparently Lenovo... but thankfully their provision in the drivers department is evidently still as superb as it used to be since the device did not arrive with any drivers at all. The IBM/Lenovo site provided both an install, AND an uninstall program for the drivers.
On the Toshiba Portege Tablet, which has none of these ports at all, the serial port goes in more or less conventionally and appears as COM4. But the Parallel does the "USB to Parallel cable" trick, and does not go in as a port at all... it appears (if you can call it that) as "printer support" in the list of USB devices.

QF
_________________
No one who actually wants to be a politician should ever be allowed to be one.
Similarly... no one who actually wants to be a policeman should ever be allowed to be one either.
Both desires are definitively indicative of an unhealthy psychology.
The proof is all around us now.
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SoftStag



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 2049
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:28 am    Post subject: Compatibility Mode Reply with quote

Have you seen this link. There is software here that claims to work in XP for transferring files.

Also, have you tried using the compatibility mode in XP? Set the application (DOS box?) to run in Windows 95 mode - maybe this will work?
_________________
"Microsoft programs are generally bug-free. If you visit the Microsoft hotline, you'll literally have to wait weeks if not months until someone calls in with a bug in one of our programs. 99.99% of calls turn out to be user mistakes. I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes. The reasons for updates are to present more new features."
-- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine
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quinbus_flestrin



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:41 am    Post subject: Re: Compatibility Mode Reply with quote

SoftStag wrote:
Have you seen this link. There is software here that claims to work in XP for transferring files.

Also, have you tried using the compatibility mode in XP? Set the application (DOS box?) to run in Windows 95 mode - maybe this will work?


Thanks for the heads up for that site too.
Been there before recently on a Google and missed the reference... as sometimes happens when you're approaching sixty and starting to speed. Smile)

I'll try it today.

Addendum
I did try it before... found the note I made... the archive is corrupt when you try to extract it. I would email the guy to see if he would re-up it but the only reference is for something called Windows Live, which we do not have.
If you have such an account then perhaps you can help by letting him know for me here...
Code:
http://freepeoplecountry.spaces.live.com/



However we both realise that something's gone from XP, that was there before and in all of the other incarnations... but what?

I wonder... and this is speculation from a position of admitted ignorance so it is equivalent to a statement of "fact" from a government minister or a policeman... is it because of the interrupts?

I read somewhere in my travels about interrupt driven implementations of Portfolio softwares being required... this was actually for the serial interface mind.
But since both ports appear to have done an effective bunk...

Having written a centronics interface driver for a Vic 20 in my youth (Commodore only fitted their own cut down IEEE interface which only worked with their own printers) and actually had it published too, I can just about recall that interrupts were used to effect something on the parallel port... called handshaking... which enabled to and fro communications.

I know that both ports used to occupy interrrup positions in the pc memory map... because in pre-USB days we used to suffer with something called interrupt conflicts with respect to our varous device drivers.

Interrrupt or Port sharing was not generally permitted as I recall, and required advice such as you give here in this august company to get around them... only then it was given in magazines and periodicals.
The stone age internet was called bulletin boards and worked from real people, hosting real BBS systems, in real front rooms... and was a rare experience for most folks.

My ancient Pocket PC Reference has somehow survived since those days.. better than me, it would appear... and declares that on an XT we had only one interrupt controller (usefully?) designated as interrupt controller 1.
On that controller the IRQs 3 and 4 were used for COMs 2 and 1, and IRQ 7 was for the parallel port.
It goes on to declare that for AT machines a second interrupt controller was added which explains (now belatedly for me) why really old PCs and XTs had battery driven clocks, and later ATs and beyond did not... as the first interrupt is an on-board clock.
I had not really thought about it (at the time or since), but we did use to have to change batteries on motherboards in those days... indeed on Amstrad PC1512s we had to change four penlight batteries quite regularly.
None of the other interrupts in this second controller are apparently germaine to this however, being Real Time Clock, Software re-direct to IRQ2, three IRQs enigmatically designated "reserved", one for the 80287 maths coprocessor, one for the hard disk controller, and finally "some SCSI and hard disk controllers".

Now it occurs to me that I have never encountered an interrupt problem since we moved into XP. We got them in 95, and 98 still, and I missed 2000 and NT so I don't know about those, but I never had one... at least not to call one as such... in XP.
The IRQs are still there. I know they are as I have been into the Device Manager quite a bit recently, but I wonder if they have been circumvented themselves... by USB.
Certainly when I add a USB device... a memory stick or card reader, or the little portable hard disk drive, or even this IBM pod that we got with the two "legacy" ports aboard... then it simply adds to the list of USB devices whilst it is connected, and then disappears when it is removed.

So USB is the current panacea for device addition to PCs... and because it is extensible... apparently infinitely... and more intelligent than the average copper or politician... then we are spared device conflicts.

This begs questions...

Has something then been done to affect the old interrupt system?

Why don't parallel ports seem to exist as interrupt driven ports any longer in the few efforts we've seen now to replace them in USB?

Since it is no longer used... or they would prefer that it was not, probably in order to sell more new USB devices?... have they effectively hikacked the old interrupt system for something else?

I may be getting on but you can divine at least one salient fact from my ramblings... no Vista here.
Seen it, tried it, advised the person to remove it and replace it with XP or Linux.
But I wonder if there is even more evidence of this shift away from familiar old devices in there?

QF
_________________
No one who actually wants to be a politician should ever be allowed to be one.
Similarly... no one who actually wants to be a policeman should ever be allowed to be one either.
Both desires are definitively indicative of an unhealthy psychology.
The proof is all around us now.
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SoftStag



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 2049
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:02 pm    Post subject: IRQs Reply with quote

I can't contact that guy either, you could try emailing him at webmaster@ his domain name, or info@ his domain name.

quinbus_flestrin wrote:
However we both realise that something's gone from XP, that was there before and in all of the other incarnations... but what?

I think you answered this in your earlier post:

quinbus_flestrin wrote:
He goes on to explain that programs are apparently written for Windoze which are either User mode or Kernel mode, and with them come restrictions etc.

"The programs you generally write falls in the user mode category. The user mode programs are restricted to use certain instructions like IN, OUT etc.. Whenever the operating system find that a user mode program is trying to execute such instructions , the operating system stops execution of those programs and will display an error message. Eventually our interfacing programs stops where they are executing IN or OUT instructions to read or write data to parallel port. But in the same time Kernel mode programs are in no way restricted in executing such instructions. Device drivers are capable of running in kernel mode."

Basically, you are trying to access the hardware directly, in User mode. This is something that Windows disallows. In this instance, this is a bad thing, however from a security point of view these restrictions can prevent malware from accessing hardware directly and taking over the PC.

What is required is an application or device driver running in kernel mode to control the data transfer across the parallel (or serial) port.

Interrupt Requests (IRQs)
Interrupt requests still exist in modern computers. The advent of plug and play has removed the old issues of conflicts and sharing is not only possible but commonplace and necessary in the more complex machines we have today. In order for such IRQ sharing the BIOS and OS work together to prevent issues and assign resources as required. If you run an old OS that doesn't support such features (DOS for example) then the PC will (should) behave as an old PC would and exhibit the same conflict issues and have the same level of control to the ports that you are seeking.

USB
USB is just another port really, nothing that special about it. I guess it is just an updated version of the RS232 Serial port with bells and whistles. Like RS232 it is a serial connection, unlike RS232 it is hot swappable so the PC can detect a device being plugged in or removed. Using an addressing system, it can have up to 127 devices, including hubs, from one controller.

USB incarnations of centronics parallel ports are really just emulation devices. The provide a pseudo LPT port in Windows, that sits on the USB bus. Drivers convert the signals between parallel and USB. One thing that won't be emulated is the IRQ, as this is determined at a lower level. The real IRQ will be that of the USB controller, but you can't use this for your purposes. I therefore don't think you will ever get any joy out of one of these devices as you are trying to access the parallel port at a level that doesn't exist - because the parallel port isn't real in the true sense.
_________________
"Microsoft programs are generally bug-free. If you visit the Microsoft hotline, you'll literally have to wait weeks if not months until someone calls in with a bug in one of our programs. 99.99% of calls turn out to be user mistakes. I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes. The reasons for updates are to present more new features."
-- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine
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quinbus_flestrin



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:16 am    Post subject: Re: IRQs Reply with quote

I think you have the right of it with regard to the port and it's inability to emulate the interrupt system that I need... at least it would seem so far as the parallel port is concerned... and yet... I wonder what the reailty of that pcmcia port I mentioned at the top is?

You can move it's memory port "back" into position... or ideed elsewhere. I have to wonder if that also takes in the interrupt... or at least the provision of an equivalent vector... since we are not dealing with the USB any more. The card is in the region of $90 to buy and seems to translate literally and illogically to the same amount in pounds, so it's an eBay "watching" job for that one.

One more possibility arises this week when I discovered the usb to (literally) RS232 "podules" or cables.
They come either as a podule... a piece of plastic with a 9 pin at one end and male USB at the other, or they come as the same thing with a cable in between.

You will be aware of the difference I expect between a "serial" interface and an RS232... which is most definitely interrupt driven.
I do hope that they do not use the term "RS232" figuratively.
The detail is sparse of course, but there is a driver disc apparently.

Recalling that both possibilities are removed from modern equipment... in the shape of our Toshiba Tablet, and other contemporary laptops that I have to repair or restore... it is also a matter of 1.96 in total to buy.

So whilst waiting for the SPP-100 Single Port EPP Parallel PCMCIA Card to come on to the used market on eBay, I have ordered one of these to try as well. The outfit are currently trading on eBay.co.uk as "urextras".



Naturally I'll report findings.

As I said at the outset, I do appreciate that there will be very few people who are interested in making the link between a modern computer and the portfolio, but in my travels recently on line it would seem that increasing numbers are awakening to the fact that they cannot get access to older hardware from computers which post-date Windoze 98 and the Pentium 4 era, and are asking similar questions.

There is definitely a resurgence of interest in "antique" computers and equipment. I have been contacted just recently, over work that I did and published a very long time ago, with Memotech home computers.

Another "phenomenon" has also struck during this quest which members may wish to become aware of... legacy drivers and legacy driver software provision seems to have become a business now... with charges.

Every Google recently for DOS and Windoze driver software has thrown up... near the top... a succession of either pay-to-download or view these Ads sites, almost offering these as commodity items.
It has only been perseverence... either viewing the Ads or labouriously trawling through into the high page numbers of, sometimes-several Google searches... which has thrown up real free downloads of software from ancient long-forgotten sites.

This inevitably leads to direct payment as the old sites dry up or are deleted by the hosts, and the marketing sites chase even more revenue from their frequently-user donated, softwares.

Perhaps a call to members who have and those who have not yet created web sites, to post whatever drivers and old software that they may have... for download by others... would be appropriate.
I certainly intend to put my Portfolio stuff, includng scanned manuals, and perhaps these conclusons as well, up online for free download.

As a direct consequence of the nature of the beast, the difference in file size of these softwares reduces relative to the ever-increasing norm. Try a simple comparison of the relative file extents between Windoze XP and Windoze 98 and you'll soon get the idea.

The entire software provision... including peripheral drivers and probably inadvertant duplicates, and DOS 7.1 boot discs... that I have here for the Portfolio... would not fill a 1 Gig SD card!!

Windoze 98, in any flavour I have come across, did not even half-fill a CDR... never mind a DVD-R.

Our ISP permits (I think) 50 Mb per account.
Even if members were averse to including the links etc. on their own pages, there is no reason that I can come up with why they might not simply host the files for downloads from a central page held here.

QF


SoftStag wrote:

USB
USB is just another port really, nothing that special about it. I guess it is just an updated version of the RS232 Serial port with bells and whistles. Like RS232 it is a serial connection, unlike RS232 it is hot swappable so the PC can detect a device being plugged in or removed. Using an addressing system, it can have up to 127 devices, including hubs, from one controller.

USB incarnations of centronics parallel ports are really just emulation devices. The provide a pseudo LPT port in Windows, that sits on the USB bus. Drivers convert the signals between parallel and USB. One thing that won't be emulated is the IRQ, as this is determined at a lower level. The real IRQ will be that of the USB controller, but you can't use this for your purposes. I therefore don't think you will ever get any joy out of one of these devices as you are trying to access the parallel port at a level that doesn't exist - because the parallel port isn't real in the true sense.

_________________
No one who actually wants to be a politician should ever be allowed to be one.
Similarly... no one who actually wants to be a policeman should ever be allowed to be one either.
Both desires are definitively indicative of an unhealthy psychology.
The proof is all around us now.
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Admin
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Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 42
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

QF

We will be happy to host the files on our main site if you can provide us with the files and some text information to go with it. You can contact me directly by clicking the email link below my post.

Please note however, for legal reasons, that we are unable to publish copyrighted material without the consent of the copyright holder.
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SoftStag



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 2049
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it would be good to get that stuff on the site, then anyone who is looking for this stuff can get access.

Please write us a small article and send the files, well see if we can get it on the site for you.
_________________
"Microsoft programs are generally bug-free. If you visit the Microsoft hotline, you'll literally have to wait weeks if not months until someone calls in with a bug in one of our programs. 99.99% of calls turn out to be user mistakes. I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes. The reasons for updates are to present more new features."
-- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine
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quinbus_flestrin



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to oblige.
I have accordingly now converted some old drivers and toolkit disks that have survived here.

As a suggestion for those not used to doing so, and there must be many of us now, a freely downloadable tool named Magic ISO will create a boot image file for you.

Code:
http://www.magiciso.com/


There are other tools which will achieve the same thing but some of them like DI.EXE, are not Windoze programs and require the use of the command line interpreter.
The net effect is that if you need the tools or the boot disc then you simply download the BIF file and use Magic ISO to recreate the floppy disc precisely.

For those of us who may not know, file copying a floppy disc does not create a bootable disc as it misses out two of the essential DOS files, which are normally hidden. CDs and DVDs boot using a different system entirely.

The Magic ISO tool is also useful for creating or re-constituting ISO files that you may find elsewhere... which may well be CD, or indeed DVD images.

I've used Magic ISO to create several MDSOS 7.1 boot CDs in various flavours
Code:
 http://ms-dos7.hit.bg/
and the clever Emergency BOOT CDs
Code:
http://www.bootdisk.com/
, for use with this Portfolio project. The floppy creation stuff on those sites was of no use to me at the time, as my floppy drive had long been retired, and replaced with a memory card reader.

A word of caution however, with older DOS based discs you might have had lying around for years, XP sometimes makes a meal out of reading them. It is the age and perhaps some of the older disc file formats which are the problem I think. Be patient... or learn to use something like DI.EXE... which you will find on the DOS boot discs from the MSDOS 7.1 images referred to above... or see below...

If you can provide a link for me to upload to a holding area, as I presume you'll want to scan material sent in, then I'll despatch future items there. For the moment I have uploaded the ones I have made to MediaFire, where the storage is free and the downloading is too.

I have created several boot discs, however I find now that where there were errors on the original floppies (old age?) that I used to create the Magic ISO image files, the program will not now re-create the boot discs. The solution for me has been to drop back into MSDOS on the old Toshiba (Win98) and diskcopy (DOS Program) the disks to fresh disks... this creates a mirror image to a fresh floppy without the bad sectors. In these cases the bad sectors have fortunately not been data sectors.
Back into Magic ISO and the images now create correctly, and rebuild to floppies as expected.

One is to create a disk which will boot to DOS 6.22, and include a range of Tools contempory to Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. It uses a very simple menu system that I created, consisting of nothing more than DOS batch files which are invoked by the user from a DOS TXT file on the display.
There was a Tool called Disk Manager on this disc. The main file was corrupted so I deleted it.

[1] Disk Manager ****REMOVED****
[2] Microscope
[3] Spinrite
[4] PC Check
[5] BIOS Password
[6] Win95 Hardware Check

Make Selection Now Please

Dos Booted on this disk is 6.22!

The Disc
Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?jwmaczzjm3v

A bit about the disc.
Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?09zsynolyib


The next creates a BOOT CD to install Toshiba V2.08 CD Rom Driver, and boots Win95 DOS and includes both contemporary FDISK and FORMAT.COM files.

Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?mmcyy1wmnsm


This one is used to install Mitsumi CD ROM driver. This time invoking oemsetup, which used to be an option to include your drive automatically within Win95 setups. You can simply stop the install process with CTRL C, and extract the necessary files for you to be able to boot a Mitsumi Atapi CD device, as well as the MSCDEX.EXE required for all of these types of driver files.

Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?dyolh0m0l5l


And finally, a program suite? which graphically installs a serial or PS2 mouse in Windoze 9x/NT4

Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?bneine0artn


None of them are even remotely useful to the average user.
But all of them will no longer be easy to find, if needed.
And with the resurgance of interest in old computer kit...

The contortions through which I went, when trying to set up what used to be a simple boot system for MSDOS, in order to attempt to give me access to these old Atari Portfolios, left me with the firm conviction that a bridge had been crossed and I had not noticed it... as you can tell.
I had even gone as far as to remove my old floppy drive from this tin box, and substitute it with the far more immediately useful multi-memory card reader and extra USB port, which fits in the same place.

The 3.5" floppy drive is now back in harness, but I had lost the cable to the motherboard, and had to source a new one.
In doing so I managed to find a company on eBay still selling new stock of the old design floppy ribbon cables, with the two basic connectors for floppy drives fitted.
The early floppy disk drives were connected via ribbon cables to separate drive controller cards, and used cables with big edge connectors instead of the later small pin block plugs. In trying to resurrect an Iriwn (internally fitted) tape streamer recently I discovered that they too used the old floppy disc drive connection fittings.
These hybrid cables were introduced during the change from the old 5.25" and 8" Floppy disc drives, to the 3.5" floppies in order to enable both types of device in the one computer.

QF

Addendum

Added Matsushita CD Install W95

Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?j9lwnjvunsm


This one causes a divide overflow error when I try to boot it on the old Tosh, as the config.sys tries to load the driver.
I'd guess it is looking for the drive, and generates the error when it fails to find it.

This is a real blast from the past... literally.

Code:
http://www.mediafire.com/?jjzm2pmcykm


SoundBlaster used to market an interface and drive from Panasonic, badged as their own.
This even pre-dates the inclusion of CD connections on their Sound Cards.
This is the driver disk, as supplied.

QF

SoftStag wrote:
Yeah, it would be good to get that stuff on the site, then anyone who is looking for this stuff can get access.

Please write us a small article and send the files, well see if we can get it on the site for you.

_________________
No one who actually wants to be a politician should ever be allowed to be one.
Similarly... no one who actually wants to be a policeman should ever be allowed to be one either.
Both desires are definitively indicative of an unhealthy psychology.
The proof is all around us now.
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SoftStag



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 2049
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this. I think it is probably best if you email Admin directly with the files as attachments.
_________________
"Microsoft programs are generally bug-free. If you visit the Microsoft hotline, you'll literally have to wait weeks if not months until someone calls in with a bug in one of our programs. 99.99% of calls turn out to be user mistakes. I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes. The reasons for updates are to present more new features."
-- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine
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quinbus_flestrin



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Tried A PM but no reply. Reply with quote

I tried a PM to Admi, but so far they have not got back to me other than as you see here.

QF
_________________
No one who actually wants to be a politician should ever be allowed to be one.
Similarly... no one who actually wants to be a policeman should ever be allowed to be one either.
Both desires are definitively indicative of an unhealthy psychology.
The proof is all around us now.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
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