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F > FORTUNE > 32:16   


When the 32:16 was launched, Fortune Systems Corp. advertised that it was the first integrated Unix-based system for $5000. Actually, the cheaper version was a single floppy disc, single user system that was never sold. A practical small business multiuser configuation, called System 10, and including a 10 MB hard disk and 512 KB of RAM costed about $9000.

The system could support up to 4 four-port serial terminal controllers and several other peripheral controllers: storage modules, Parallel interfaces, high resolution graphic board and Ethernet network board. The keyboard was a close cousin of the Wang word-processing system one. Keys was well arranged and color coded. The system came with different hard-disk storage options, 5, 10, 20 or even 70 MB on latest models.

The Fortune 32:16 was a true multiuser multitasking Unix based system offering services that was a length ahead over CP/M's. However, both Unix and Fortune was new to most of the dealers and users. Fortune offered them training courses in hardware, operating system and application software.

A wide range of high quality business application software was available, as well as programming languages, like a very extended BASIC able to convert code written in other BASICs (AppleSoft, MBASIC, CBASIC, TRS-80 BASIC), PASCAL, FORTRAN 77, COBOL and, of course, C language.

The 32:16 was also built and sold in France by Thomson under the name of Micromega 32

Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).

Special thanks to fortune who donated us this computer !


I did the boot ROM and some kernel bits, 1982 to 1984. We shipped a pretty computer, and then 1.5 years later shipped a computer that actually worked. My first corporate job, and certainly a lot of fun.

Friday 13rd May 2022
Lance Norskog (USA)

We at the Byte Shop Seattle got a unit to evaluate. Right away I thought it was a fine machine but not something that would fit into our direction selling more consumer machines than anything else. We were an Alpha Micro and Northstar dealer and rarely sold either of them.

Friday 24th September 2021
Oscar Hasten (United States)

I worked for Western Digital (WD), the company that supplied the disk controller for the on the Fortune 32:16. I designed the parallel section and firmware for the hard disk controller. Fortune’s controller was based on the WD’s WD1001 ECC disc controller that was intended for Seagate ST506 drives. It was based on five 20-pin WD-designed gate arrays and the Signetics 8X305 processor. The 8X305 was a special beast. It could execute instructions 3x faster than the Fortune 32:16’s native 68000 processor. But the 8X305 only had EIGHT instructions. Its speed allowed me to read 5Mbits/sec parallelized data off the disc and make real time decisions on that data. It also allowed me to implement the WD1001’s eight virtual host-facing registers in software. Since the Fortune 32:16 was all about performance, the disk controller needed to implement DMA. DMA controllers of the era typically handled only 8 bit data and 16 bit addressing. The 32:16 bus had 16 bit data and 24 bit addressing. I came up with a DMA solution that required no LSI devices nor counters. I had the 8X305 run the 24 bit counters and 8-to-16 bit bus conversion in software. The 8X300 would send addresses and data to simple, cheap octal latches. The Fortune engineers did not like this software solution because they perceived it as slow. Yet, in their own DMA specification, they required devices to not hog bus bandwidth. I demonstrated that the 8×305 software solution met both Fortune’s performance and non-bus hogging goals. The software loop required to update 16 bits of data, update the least significant byte of the address, maintain a word counter, initiate the DMA state machine, and wait for completion was only 8 8X305 instructions or 2 microseconds (us). The required 256 16-bit word DMA transfer could happen in just 512 uS. The sector time of the disk drive was about 1000 us. So my software DMA could deliver data to/from memory at full disc speed. (DMA transfers that crossed 8 bit and 16 bit boundaries took 2.75 us and 3.25 us, respectively.)

Tuesday 13rd April 2021
Mike Friese


NAME  32:16
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  United Kingdom
YEAR  1982
KEYBOARD  Full-stroke 99 keys with numeric keypad and 16 function keys
CPU  Motorola 68000
SPEED  6 Mhz
RAM  from 256 KB, to 2 MB (4 x 256 KB + 1 MB)
ROM  unknown
TEXT MODES  80 chars. x 24 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  optional High resolution graphic card
COLORS  Monochrome
SOUND  Beeper
SIZE / WEIGHT  Total system weight : 24 Kgs
I/O PORTS  External hard-disk unit, Serial RS232 (up to 16), monochrome display
BUILT IN MEDIA  One or two 5''1/4 800 KB FDD - Hard disk from 5 to 70 MB - optional tape unit
OS  Berkeley BSD 4.1 Unix
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  External hard disk, cartridge tape,
PRICE  from $5000 to about $15000 according to hardware configuration

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