A S-100 owner

The following S-100 story is from Brent Martin, in May of 2007. See other stories of S-100 owners on this Web page, part of my S-100 Web site. Most recent revision dated May 03 2008. My edits are in []'s. - Herb Johnson

Brent Martin: "I love computers, especially programming! I started programming in BASIC and Fortran back in 1972, worked at NASA Langley Research Center as a co-op student in aerospace engineering, worked on a lot of mainframes, mostly CDC 6600, and IBM 370, and lots more. I worked for TRW for 22 years, from 1978-2000, and I worked on Spacelab (French computers, called the Mitra 125) project, and spent about two years in Germany (Bremen for 16 months at ERNO-MBB, and 9 months in Friedrichshafen, at Dornier)."

Brent goes on: "I worked in the first computer store in San Bernardino, California, Inland Computers, in 1978, as a volunteer, mainly to learn all I could about computer software and hardware. I remember writing a lot of I/O routines for various kinds of terminals and combinations of keyboards and monitors. I also once wrote a program to relocate my Northstar DOS from 2000h down to 0000h. I also remember writing a program to read a Northstar Basic program and detokenize it, converting the binary into readable text. I really loved Northstar Basic, which was very similar to HP Basic, using the same kind of string handling, none of the MID$, LEFT$, and RIGHT$ I seem to remember from other versions of BASIC."

Brent says: "Back in 1978 I remember Lifeboat & Associates, Peachtree Accounting S/W, and such. The store I worked in sold computers to doctors and lawyers, and amazingly they cost about $10,000 or $20,000 fully configured, and they ran nothing more than Northstar Basic. I remember one consultant I met who built systems for people using only Tiny Basic and assembly language. I remember building Tiny Basic! It was fun, but very primitive. I also remember Small-C. I have an 80x86 version of it now (the one from BYTE magazine)."

Brent's current activities: "My latest hobby is building my own operating system, and I'm getting my son involved in a lot of my projects, sort of similar to [what's described on your Northstar Web page]n! My son is going to be 14 in June and I'll be 54 in July. He's been playing with all kinds of computers since he was about 2 years old. He has 14 Macs of different vintages, several PCs, a big collection of old calculators, numerous monitors, and lots of electronic gadgets. I just bought a SUN workstation for us to play with and we had an SGI O2 machine which crapped out recently. I'm looking for another one. I also had a DEC Alpha running Windows NT 4.0 (emulating the X86 instruction set)! I've worked on all kinds of computers at work, mostly Unix, but also DEC VAX machines, Alliant, Convex, Sun, HP, IBM, SGI. I have done more work on Silicon Graphics machines than any other machine, and I kind of miss them. I had a Northstar Horizon in 1978 when I lived in California, and I still have it, although I haven't tried to boot it up in many years. I'm interested in getting my Northstar running again so I can show my son what it was like. Do you know where one can obtain something like an old serial terminal?"

Note: Brent's email above referenced a discussion by Dave Ashley on my NorthStar page. Dave talks there about working with his father, who wrote a BASIC compiler product for NorthStar computers, back in the 1980's. Check that page for more discussion.

Contact information:

Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
To email @ me, see see my ordering Web page.

Copyright © 2008 Herb Johnson and Brent Martin