Ithaca Audio, Intersystems S-100

This document copyright Herbert R. Johnson 2009. Last updated Dec 1 2009.
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Ithaca history

[Ithaca FP] Ithaca Audio of Ithaca, NY, started out as an audio product company in the early 1970's. They created a series of S-100 boards and eventualy a system based on the Z80. Apparently they tapped people from Cornell University nearby. The company became Ithaca InterSystems at some point. With further success, they developed Unix based systems, based on the Z8000 series processor sometime in 1981. The company lasted into the 1980's.

The Ithaca DPS-1 is a notible S-100 box due to its advanced front panel design, among the last of the S-100 systems to have a full front panel of data and address switches and lights. In 2009, I found that another Ithaca NY company named Digicomp Research used the DPS-1 front panel and their own board set, to make a Western Digital Microengine hardware to support a UCSD Pascal system.

Sometime in 2009, Google added to their collection of fully-accessable documents, a collection of the then-printed US computing magazine "Infoworld". InfoWorld was first published in 1978 as the "Intelligent Systems Journal". It became InfoWOrld in 1980. It ceased print publication in 2007 but continued as a Website. Infoworld's owners still hold copyright on their works. On Sept 15th 2009, I searched for "Ithaca Intersystems" in Google's "InfoWorld" archive. It yielded the following:

Jun 11, 1979, page 5: Intersystems introduces DPS-1 mainframe for $1145
Feb 18, 1980; Sol Libes article on S-100 history
Apr 14, 1980, pg 5: Z-8000 CPU board unvelied at the 5th West Coast Computer Faire
May 11, 1981 pg 43: X8002 board for Z8001 CPU. software development requires Z8000 and Z80 boards
Aug 31, 1981 pg 18: JUne 30 1981 as last meeting of IEEE-696 standards committee, Ithaca present.
Sep 28, 1981 pg 27: Z-8000 system with Coherent expected to be delivering in September..$20K w/o peripherals.
Nov 30, 1981 pg 73: Version 4.0 of Pascal/Z, mentions Z8000 Pascal
Feb 15, 1982 pg 9: mentions Coherent running on Z8000 system.

Ithaca afterwards

A New York Times article "VYING TO ENHANCE THE MACINTOSH" March 2, 1987, had this statement. "...Supermac Technology, which was founded by Steven Edelman, now 33. Mr. Edelman founded an early personal computer company, Ithaca Intersystems, shortly after graduating from Cornell in 1976. He then retired and spent several years in such pursuits as flying around the world as a messenger for courier services before starting Supermac."

Another NYT article, "Saying Goodbye, Good Riddance To Silicon Valley" By John Markoff, published Sunday, January 17, 1999, is an interview of Mr. Edelman after he left Silicon Valley. In the article, it says "Mr. Edelman called Mr. Faggin to ask him for a microprocessor chip to help get him started." (Faggin was a co-developer of the 8080 and earlier processors at Intel. Faggin started Zilog and created the Z80.) Apparently sometime in the 1980's he moved to Silicon Valley, got involved with Standford University, and developed early Macintosh upgrades under the company "Supermac".

A profile of James Henry Watson, Jr. of Ithaca NY, says: "Prior to Pathlight Technology, Mr. Watson served as president, COO and CFO of I.I. Holdings, Inc. and Ironics, Inc., and as president of Ithaca Intersystems." A LinkedIn entry for "Judy Warren" of Cloud Computing Enablement at IBM near New York City, lists "Software Engineer at Ithaca Intersystems"; another LinkedIn entry lists the same for "Caroline Hecht" a Web Programmer of Cornell University, previously at Ithaca in 1981-83.

Ithaca Intersystems today

In 2009, George J. Gesslein II has an online resume, which lists him as at "Ithaca Intersystems (from June, 1979 to June, 1983), employed as a hardware technician and as a programmer for their computer products. Successfully completed the Z-8000 CPU boot PROM monitor firmware and the Xenix Intelligent Serial I/O (ISIO) driver (Unix driver in C) and Z-80 assembly language firmware for the ISIO card. [Also] Wrote and maintained diagnostic software." I contacted him in April 2009, and he acknowledged some of this work. "Yes, Ithaca Intersystems was my first job, I mostly worked on the DPS-8000 that ran Xenix, which was a fun computer. But its virtual address space was limited to 64 kilobytes per program data or code, meaning it couldn't run large programs. I thought Xenix was better than Coherent, but it could be that it cost so much money for the Xenix port and license, that the whole Z8000 project failed. [But] I made no decisions [there] except for debugging and correcting the faulty stuff and writing needed software, I was just a programmer and hardware technician for Ithaca Intersystems and worked on location there [in Ithaca]." George has spent several years on a portable and open-source Computer Algebra System called Mathomatic. Check his site for details.

- Herb Johnson, with quotes by permission.

A description of a current Ithaca Intersystems owner is at this Web page of S-100 owners. The owner is Ron Ward.

I'm not just Dr. S-100, I'm also an owner. In Sept 2009 I'm working on an Ithaca DPS-1 front panel based system. - Herb

Ithaca Audio / Intersystems docs available

Price information about copies of these documents, and how to contact me, can be found in this notice.

Ithaca Audio docs:
        Ithaca Audio 16K EPROM, 23 pgs

        Ithaca Audio ad flyer, 1979, 1 pg
        2708/2716 Eprom Card, IA-1050, 1977, 26 pgs
        Z-80 card, Oct 1977, 40 pgs
        8K memory, 1977, 4 pgs (Forrest Duston)

Ithaca Intersystems docs:
        MPU-80 (Series II Z80 IA-2000), 1979 w/1980 errata, schematic, 84 pgs
        XPU-80 (Z80B processor IA-1051 or 1851?) w/memory management),
           1982, 39 pgs
        64 KDR (64K DRAM card IA-2030), 1980, 60 pgs
        VIO (Series II I/O card IA-1190), 1980, schematic, 60 pgs
        IA-1010 2.0, Z80 card, Oct 1977

        Series II Microcomputer Catalog, 1980, 28 pgs
        FDC-2 (floppy controller IA-2020?) 1980 Ed. 2 w/errata, sche., 34 pgs
        6SIO (serial I/O IA-3030), 1981, schematic, 36 pgs

        Sixty-four Kilobyte memory, 1980 rev 0, IA-2030, 60 pgs
        Ithaca 525/800 system flyer, 1984, 8 pgs
        Pascal Development Systems flyer, 1984, 14 pgs
        Intersystems Series II catalog, 1980, board descripts., 18 pgs
        Sixteen Kilo. Static Memory, IA-2010, rev 0, 1979, schem., 46 pgs
        Sixty-four Kilo. Dynamic Memory, IS-2030, rev 0, 1980, schem., 60 pgs
        (PREPUBLICATION NOTES) MPU8000, Z8000 card, 10 pgs
        (PREPUBLICATION NOTES) Z-8002 monitor, 16 pgs
        Tiny BIOS for CP/M 2.0, 1980, listings, 15 pgs\
        notes for CP/M 2.2 with Intersystem BIOS ver 3.d, 12 pgs

        Standard BIOS USer's Manual, version 4c, 1981; 32 pgs
        Assembly manual, rev 2 - copy, ask
        Series II VIO manual - copy, ask
        Series II Z-z80 manual - copy, ask
        Tiny BIOS For CP/M 2.2, ver 2, 18 pgs
        Standard BIOS listing, ver 4c, 1981, 44 pgs
        FDC II Bootstrap Program listing, ver 3b, 1980, 10 pgs
        notes for CP/M 2.2 with Intersystem BIOS ver 3.d, 12 pgs        
        adding Intersystems BIOS to existing CP/M 2.2, 4 pgs
        CP/M BIOS listing, ver 3.d, 1980, 48 pgs
        A Front Panel for the S-100 Bus, (prelim) 1979, 
            with 1980 errata, IA-1160 schematic, parts list. 60 pgs

        IA-1170 ADDA A/D and D/A card, 2 page photos and specs only. (I need manual)
        Flyers on software, hardware:
                K2 FDOS, 1979, 4 pgs
                Floppy disk conroller, 1979, 2 pgs
                Pascal/Z, 1979, 2 pgs
                Asmble/Z, 1979, 2 pgs
                DPS*1, 1979, 2 pgs
                Z80 CPU, 1979, 2 pgs
                Video Display Board, 1978, 2 pgs
                8K Static RAM, 1978, 2 pgs
                2708/16 EPROM board, 1979, 2 pgs
                Prototype board, 1978, 2 pgs
                Power supply, 1979, 2 pgs
                Front panel, 1979, 2 pgs

Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
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Copyright © 2009 Herb Johnson