Nascom

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The Nascom 1 and 2 were single-board computer kits issued in 1977 and 1979, respectively, based on the Zilog Z80 and including a keyboard and video interface, a serial port that could be used for storing data on a tape cassette using the Kansas City standard, and two 8-bit parallel ports. The inclusion of a full keyboard and video display interface was uncommon in this era, most microcomputer kits at the time only being delivered with a hexadecimal keypad and 7-seg display. In order to keep the cost down, the purchaser had to assemble their Nascom by hand-soldering approximately 3,000 joints on the single circuit board.

The Display of the Nascom 2 consisted of 48 columns by 16 rows, white characters on black background with no graphics. It was possible to purchase an add-on Graphics Chip (approx price £20 in 1980) for the Nascom 2 that added a further 128 Graphics Characters. The built-in Microsoft Basic (8K ROM) interpreter could use these graphics to create a primitive and blocky-like 96×48 graphics display.

The predecessor of Borland's very successful Turbo Pascal compiler and IDE for CP/M and MS-DOS was developed by Anders Hejlsberg of Blue Label Software for the Nascom 2, under the name Blue Label Software Pascal, or BLS Pascal.

An interface bus, initially proprietary but quickly superseded by the 80-bus, allowed many other cards to be added to the Nascom, a progression which led to the Gemini 80-bus system which was, for a while, used as an industrial process controller. British Cellophane used several to continuously monitor thickness gauges attached to plastic sheet production lines. An 80-bus compatible network card enabled both Nascoms and Geminis to be used in an office environment.

Interest in the Nascom architecture still exists today with a 32 bit version available. [1]

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