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Vector Graphics

The Vector Graphic MZ featured the same hardware basis as the VIP model: S-100 based system with a Z80A processor running CP/M operating system.
However, its separate main unit had an 18 slot motherboard and integral dual floppy disc drives (2 x 315 KB).

The system came with 48 KB of RAM, 4 KB monitor ROM, and used the Vector 3 "Mindless Terminal". Although it may look like a terminal, the Mindless Terminal only had a parallel keyboard, and a B/W monitor. All video and keyboard interface was via S-100 card called Flashwriter, with all power signals passed via a DB-25 connector.

A little more information about Vector Graphics Company, in 1980:
Systems shipped:
Vector 1, Vector 1+, Vector 1++ - 1,500 systems
Vector MZ, System B, Memorite 2 - 4,500 systems
Location of facility Westlake Village, California.
Number of square feet - 40,000
Number of employees - 140
Sales level:
Year ending June 30, 1979 - $6 million
Year ending June 30, 1978 - $2 million
Year ending June 30, 1977 - $400 K

The first shipped product was a 8 KB memory card, in September 1976.


Jay Abel's memories:
I wrote drivers for this machine many, many years ago. It did, in fact, have a rough graphic facility. Each character cell was divided into six parts, and by changing the character ROM offset you could draw monochrome graphics with 160 x 72 resolution. Hey, back then, drawing a circle on the screen was a big deal.

Later models shipped with Double-Sided, double-density Micropolis Hard-sectored 5-1/4" floppy drives. I ported UCSD pascal to mine, and moved the drivers to the "scratchpad" (unused) 2k memory on the video card. I added an 8k RAM board to the original 48k that came with it. Though my machine didn't ship with CP/M, it was easy to port.
The only difficult part was that there was no standard boot code, owing to the wierd hard sectored drives with the most rudimentary controller possible, so once you go the O/S ported you had to write your own loaded. The only capability provided by the BIOS was to pull the first sector into memory. And this first sector was in a wierd format, so that the bootstrap couldn't be copied by the target O/S. So you *also* had to write a special program to copy the boot sector...

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Jay writes, "It did, in fact, have a rough graphic facility. Each character cell was divided into six parts, and by changing the character ROM offset you could draw monochrome graphics with 160 x 72 resolution."

"Rough" is a good word for it. As I recall, the monitor display was memory mapped $ but there was a bug in the mapping that caused several of the memory locations to display in the wrong place on the monitor. I wrote a subroutine that took in the *intended* screen location, made any necessary corrections to the coordinates, and wrote to the correct$ed$ areas of the memory map to get the intended pixels to display properly.

To be sure, the vast majority of pixels displayed properly. There was only a handful that displayed wrong $ but enough to mess things up.

Sunday 28th October 2018
Vincent Sabio (Reston, VA)

I worked at New Dimensions in Computing in East Lansing where we sold Vector Graphics (and Exidys and Ataris). They used some CP/M accounting programs on the Vector Graphic, including a buggy sales tax program in MS BASIC. They asked me to fix it and that''s when I learned about inexact decimal values in binary floating point numbers (as opposed to Atari''s exact BCD values). I added some rounding and fixed the bug.

Sunday 12th May 2013
Claus Buchholz (Michigan)

I wrote using Memorite running under CP/M on a Vector Graphic System Z from 1984 until it became impossible to port files or support the hardware. In 1987 I found a man in Florida who offered to transfer from hard-sectored floppies at a ridiculous rate, so I spent 20 hours porting files over the parallel (printer) port (from the Vector to a 286 machine), using ("pip a:*.* > com1:"-- I think) It worked, but Still miss Memorite!

Sunday 24th April 2005
J.T. Barbarese (Philadelphia, PA, USA)


MANUFACTURER  Vector Graphics
TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  1979
KEYBOARD  Full stroke 72 keys with numeric keypad
RAM  48 KB
ROM  4 KB (Monitor)
TEXT MODES  80 chars. x 25 lines
COLORS  Monochrome
SOUND  Beeper
I/O PORTS  2 x Serial RS-232C, 1 x Parallel
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  S-100 cards
PRICE  About $4800

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Ready prompt
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Commodore 64 prompt
Pak Pak Monster
Pixel Deer
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Shooting gallery
3D Cubes
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Vector ship

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