Polymorphics 88 from David Director

Copyright (c) 2011 Herb Johnson all rights reserved. last edit June 15 2011.


[poly at VCF-E]

I acquired my Polymorphic 88 from David Director in May 2011. THis Web page is a discussion from him about that system and some of his history.

I got the system in May 2011, just in time to take it to the Vintage Computer Festival - East 7.0, where it was examined and compared to another Poly 88 system. Here's a Web page about the two Poly 88's at that show. The Web page led to discussions with with Dwight Elvey, who used his restored system and PC software to recover Poly tape files, as discussed on this linked Web page.

For more about Polymorphics, check my Polymorphics Web page which is one of my many S-100 Web pages.

The previous owner of this Poly 88

I acquired my Polymorphic 88 from David Director, after a conversation where he mentioned he had the system. Here's what he told me in 2011 about his history with the Poly 88. - Herb

Jan 2011, David Director: I started as a software developer in the mid-'60s, so by the time microcomputers came along I was quite experienced. I guess I bought the Poly back in '78 or '79, after playing with a KIM-1 and finding it wasn't really useful for anything. I added a 64K memory board, [Morrow DJ2D] disk controller, upgraded the video to 80x24.

I had a full 2-drive system running that I used for software development. It eventually led to a business -- the software is still in production today, nearly 30 years later -- selling CompuPro systems and support along with my software. Interestingly, Wikipedia has no mention of the Poly 88.

We lost touch for some months and then I contacted David again in May. - Herb

David, May 11th:I sold the CompuPro line starting in 1984 under the name Forefront Technology. (If you're on LinkedIn, look me up there.) As you no doubt remember, Compupro was originally Godbout Electronics. We used to see Bill Godbout every year at the micro adjunct to the Joint Computer Conference[, a national computer show of the 60's and 70's].

All the original work on [my software packages were] done on the Poly 88, [upgraded to] two 8" floppies and CP/M, between around 1979 and 1982; the original idea was to build a calendar/scheduling package to integrate with WordStar. I pitched this idea to them in 1981 or so, the original proposal is still here somewhere, but they were too busy being king of word processing, and weren't interested.

Our software was developed under CP/M in BDS C, later ported to 16-bit under Concurrent CP/M. In addition to the video store application, variants were made to support wholesale inventory, audiobook rental, and party rental/sales. The underlying software engine, which featured file and record management, a full text-based windowing system, and a display API supporting forms-driven user interface, occupied a 14k memory footprint, and was licensed to DuPont Corporation as the basis of a software product I developed for them to sell.

The hardware was mostly to run my own video store software -- only about 5% of stores were computerized at the time -- though we also sold general accounting and inventory systems and dabbled in medical office systems until we found out how difficult doctors were to deal with.

We later had to pick up PCs as well, due to market demand, but we eventually dropped all hardware because we couldn't compete with larger operations. At our peak, we had 9 employees, including several Drexel University co-ops that we employed as technicians (and whom I personally trained) and several programmers, again all starting out at entry level. I've maintained contact off and on with several of them. Eventually, as the video store business consolidated, the company became a consultancy, and I closed it down in 1995 because I didn't want to do any more marketing.

As an aside, the video store software, which first came live in August, 1983, is still in production, running 80286-optimized code generated by the original Aztec C compiler and powered by Faircom's C-Tree indexing system, in a 128k footprint under Windows XP. It's been upgraded to handle network-related issues and now creates exports for website updates and can originate email via an external Perl script that can run on Windows or Linux. And it's blindingly fast, instantaneous for all practical purposes, partly because its very compactness means that the entire system, including data, lives within the system's disk cache.

- David Director, published here with permission.

Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
here is how to email @ me

Copyright © 2011 Herb Johnson