Poly 1 Computer

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dreamseal
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Poly 1 Computer

Post by dreamseal » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:01 pm

Hi all!

Although I'm quite a big BBC Micro fan (and I own an Electron), I signed up with this forum this evening primarily because I thought that there would be many members on this forum that would be interested in a discovery I made a couple of weeks ago. And I think it might be of particular interest to BBC Micro enthusiasts, primarily due to the similarity in "origin" that this 8-bit computer has with the BBC Micro.

I am originally from New Zealand. I was born there, grew up there, went to school there, started working there. Up until about 10 years ago I was still living there. The first computer I had was a Systems 80 (a TRS 80 clone), then shortly after that a VIC 20 (for many years), and we had BBC Micros at my primary school the whole way through.

So being a big retro computer fan, and from New Zealand, then how on earth have I never heard of the following 8-bit early 1980s retro computer developed in New Zealand for New Zealand schools?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly-1

https://www.classic-computers.org.nz/bl ... sition.htm

http://www.cs.otago.ac.nz/homepages/and ... y/Poly.htm

For 1981, this seemed like quite an impressive machine. It had 64K RAM, and supported accessing another 64K RAM above that. It had five separate "screens", two text, two graphics, and a background screen that were super imposed on top of each other. - Such a shame that the New Zealand government pulled out of the deal to purchase these to supply to New Zealand schools. - I can't help thinking that this had such a similar origin story to the BBC Micro, and was just as functional perhaps.

I hope this will be of interest to many of you on this forum. It is really intriguing.

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Pernod
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by Pernod » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:19 am

It's a rare machine but I'm well aware of the Poly-1, and Poly-2. I did quite a bit of work on the MAME driver for these machines earlier this year, with help from Andrew Trotman whose site you linked to.

The machine is quite complex for it's time, continually banking RAM and ROM to manage upto 128K RAM and 20K ROM. In standalone mode you only have access to BASIC, without any storage. To be useful it needs a networked storage device, either Disk Unit or Proteus, which is connected in a way similar to econet. Further Poly units can be daisy chained to share the networked floppy.

My emulation of the Poly unit is not bad, but rather useless until I get it's network running to actually load any software.
- Nigel

BBC Model B: ATPL Sidewise, Acorn Speech, 2xWatford Floppy Drives, AMX Mouse, Viglen case, BeebZIF, etc.

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daveejhitchins
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by daveejhitchins » Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:52 am

Welcome to the Forum, dreamseal . . . Enjoy . . .

Interesting to hear about the Poly.

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ARA III, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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flaxcottage
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by flaxcottage » Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:51 am

Welcome, Dreamseal. :D
- John
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dreamseal
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by dreamseal » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:04 am

Pernod wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:19 am
It's a rare machine but I'm well aware of the Poly-1, and Poly-2. I did quite a bit of work on the MAME driver for these machines earlier this year, with help from Andrew Trotman whose site you linked to.
I'm quite impressed with everything Andrew has collected in relation to the Poly. I was trying out his emulator a few nights ago and managed to load and play a few of the games and other programs. A good collection of manuals as well.

Thanks for letting me know about the MAME driver. I'll have to keep an eye on that, and give it a go. I suspected Andrew's emulator might have been the only one, so great to hear that MAME is also including it.
Pernod wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:19 am
The machine is quite complex for it's time, continually banking RAM and ROM to manage upto 128K RAM and 20K ROM. In standalone mode you only have access to BASIC, without any storage.
It's all new to me as of a couple of weeks ago. I have been studying the schematics in the Technical manual quite intently during any spare moment I've had. Unfortunately the schematics are not particularly clear. Difficult to see immediately what is connected to what. So its a bit of deduction work. Very interesting though. - I understand that the schematics more represent the design of the Poly 1 rather than what was implemented. The Touch Screen capability, for example, is something that apparently wasn't implemented, but the case for the Poly 1 was designed to support it being there. Similar story with the "SOUNDS" port. The Poly 1 has a simple beeper for sound, but the schematics suggest there were plans for something a bit more advanced maybe.

The graphics capabilities seem quite interesting. I doubt there were very many games written for the Poly, probably only a handful of BASIC games, but I can't help wondering what could have been achieved with those five super-imposed screens. Maybe there's a challenge there for some demo coders, although I guess it would be emulator only. Very difficult to actually obtain one of these machines.
Pernod wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:19 am
To be useful it needs a networked storage device, either Disk Unit or Proteus, which is connected in a way similar to econet. Further Poly units can be daisy chained to share the networked floppy.
Yes, Andrew was telling me this when I emailed him earlier this week. I mentioned to him that I might try writing an emulator myself for the Poly 1, to which he said I'd need to emulate the network bit as well to make it useful. These days I write my emulators in Java. Back in the 90s, I wrote an emulator in C, but I haven't written a line of C code in over 20 years. With Java I can use libGDX and target my Android phone in addition to desktop. I do it more as a hobby to learn more about how these computers work. So far I've tried the VIC 20 and Oric. The BBC Micro is also on my list, but for the next few months, I think I'm going to be distracted by the Poly 1. :)

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dreamseal
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by dreamseal » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:12 am

daveejhitchins wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:52 am
Welcome to the Forum, dreamseal . . . Enjoy . . .

Interesting to hear about the Poly.
flaxcottage wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:51 am
Welcome, Dreamseal. :D
Thank you @daveejhitchins and @flaxcottage. I've been meaning to join for a while. At some point I'm going to give writing a BBC Micro emulator a go and I'll probably be floating around here a bit more then. I already have 6502 and 6522 emulation working for my VIC 20 and Oric emulators, so the BBC Micro could be the next logical step to try. I'm really distracted by the Poly-1 at the moment though. :D

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Elminster
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by Elminster » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:21 am

Looks interesting. There are several bbc emulators about already, and always crying out for people to help maintain and improve them. Don’t remember any being written in Java though. If you have t seen this post this may interest you post poly1.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=15554

And welcome to the forum.
Last edited by Elminster on Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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davidb
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Re: Poly 1 Computer

Post by davidb » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:56 am

Elminster wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:21 am
Looks interesting. There are several bbc emulators about already, and always crying out for people to help maintain and improve them. Don’t remember any being written in Java though. If you have t seen this post this may interest you post poly1.
Retro-kit's archive of The BBC lives! lists some emulators that were previously available, including jbeeb, which is/was also available via drobe - I get a warning message about the plugin these days.

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