MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World

Philips P2000T - 1981

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

The Philips P2000T was the first computer in my life. Despite having used the Philips VideoPac just to play games, that was all which was done with it. The P2000T was a real Philips computer: Philips used the little data cassette in their voice dictation products, the same graphics video chips as used in their TVs for the teletext services and the ROM module was coming from the VideoPac. The P2000T had 8 kilobyte of memory in it which could be extended to 16 kilobyte: I had to do the dishes for a full week as a payment for getting this done.

The P2000T learned me a lot:

Programming in BASIC, starting with typing over lines of code from example books and later on making my own text based programs. For a project at geography classes at high school I created my own "how to assign land for farming while making sure you don't end up with mineral exhauston" program.

Modems and BBSs: With a huge external modem (not an optocoupler but a real modem) I was able to dial out to Videotex based BBSs with the speed of 1200/75 bps (while other modems these days were 300 bps).

Communication via the radio: During these days the dutch radio had a program called Hobbyscoop, which was broadcasted twice a week for half an hour (once on the FM band, once on the AM band). They had at the end of the program always a five minute segment with of data broadcast in their own Esperanto BASIC version called BASICODE: The real program starts at line 1000 and the BASIC dialect specific things like clearing the screen, putting the cursor somewhere on the screen, waiting for a key etc are done in machine specific BASIC in the lines 1 till 999. So the program would clear the screen (gosub 100), set the cursor to the middle of the screen (gosub 110) and prints "Welkom" (this is normal BASIC) and waits for a key (gosub 120).

To get this data you needed to tape the data broadcast, put the tape on the cassette player next to your computer which was in this case connected to the parallel port of the P2000T, run the Basicode program and play the recording. There you got the newsletter with a lot of information for radio amateurs, satelite trajectory, interesting things in the world of computer hobbyism etc. The casette player next to the computer was also connected to a disco style light-organ and modified not to mute when the plug towards the light-organ was plugged in. As the result everybody had to enjoy and endure the circular-saw sounds when I was downloading the newsletter.

Extending the computer with Uniface: The hobby computer explosion in the early 1980s attracted a group of people which were real hackers and wanted to use it to do the right thing: As described in the previous paragraph, incompatibilities in the BASIC language were overcome on software level with BASICODE and on hardware level they developed the UNIFACE standard: a connector between a specific extension port on the computers and a standardized port on the hardware modules. That way hardware created (the famous Knight-Rider LED strip, the automatic door opener, the railroad-track hardware) would never be obsoleted because all you had to do is build an interface and rewrite the software. Unfortunately I never got further than doing the Knight-Rider LED strip...

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