Okay, first my disclaimer:
I think I've pretty much established how ignorant of the hardware side
of things I am (not much better on software), but I throw out ideas and
ask questions both to alleviate my ignorance, and to maybe give an idea
to someone who *does* know something, who can use that to develop maybe
something completely different.
I've been following the TDock discussion, and the debate over using
superior hardware vs limited hardware.
Most popular seems to be some kind of external video without tying up
the parallel or serial port.
Elsewhere I saw a project (which I intend to pursue when I have
funds/tools/basic skills) to build an XT SBC onto an 8-bit ISA card. The
same place had a project for a matching 8-bit ISA backplane.
What I want to suggest is, instead of tying up the expansion port with a
dedicated external video solution, or external video with storage
solution, or even tying it into a Pi, some capable person tie it into
such an ISA backplane.
The reason 8-bit ISA comes to mind is, *as I understand it*, is that
it's slow, simple, and common. Do I expect connecting to it to enable
people to use an 8-bit VGA card with their Model T? Nope. But it might
allow for custom ISA boards to be developed to expand the capability of
the Model T. Someone linked to a serial VGA adapter... so someone could
theoretically develop an ISA adapter for it. Or maybe develop a
multi-I/O card that would give the Model T more serial/parallel ports
for expansion. Or a custom IDE and/or floppy drive adapter.
I would imagine the first card developed would have to be an interface
board to talk between the other slots and the M100 and do whatever
conversion, mapping, routing that would need to be done.
I don't know; maybe an ISA CGA, EGA or VGA card *could* be adapted to
work with the model T. Maybe an adlib or even soundblaster audio card
could be adapted to work with the model T. Maybe even a network card
could be adapted to it. I would think if a serial port bluetooth or wifi
adapter can be made for the Model T, such an adapter should be doable on
an ISA card connected to the system bus.
Or getting really wild, maybe a dedicated co-processor board, such as an
FPGA or 8087 card, or a form of Rex and/or Quad. Or a 2nd custom Rom ISA
card. Or a CP/M card with all the extra memory etc CP/M needs. Or a RAM
expansion with an MMU so one could write software using more than the
It just seems to me that such a standardized docking station with
multiple card slots (and it doesn't have to be ISA, I just chose that
for above reasons and it's what inspired the thought) would be more
versatile and useful than dedicated solutions for specific functions,
with the added benefit that it doesn't require an OP 2nd computer to do
it. It's just an expansion dock as has existed for PC laptops since the 80s.
Can I do any of this? Not a bit of it, not until I did a LOT of
learning, at best. But there are people on this list who *do* like doing
hardware mods. And there are people on this list, myself included,
who've already expressed a willingness to pay for expanded capabilities
for their Model T. So if this inspires some hardware guru... mission
accomplished. At the very least I hope to learn why this is a stupid idea.
So... flame away...