What’s this all about ?

The main idea of this page, is to make the fun of a Nascom-2 available to anyone who’s interested.
The Nascom computers were great machines, and is part of the computing history, especially in the UK, Denmark and Sweden.

I started this page after having visited Micks page, which goes into great detail about the Nascom computers. His pages triggered the nostalgia flip-flop and I felt that I had to do my part to maintain the history of a great computer, by writing a Nascom-2 Emulator.
[Historical note] The background of these pages are in a color familiar to all Nascom-2 owners. It was the color of the keyboard case and the manual binders.

I bought my Nascom-2 in 1979. I can’t remember how much I paid for it, but a pricelist from those days list it at 4.481 Danish Crowns( US$530). At that time, however, 4000 DKK (Danish Crowns), was about two month’s salary, after tax !
And what you got was a keyboard, a circuit board and a number of plastic bags full of resistors, capacitors and integrated circuits.
Yes ! You had to build it yourself.
And you have to supply your own power supply (+5V,+12V,-5V,-12V (expensive!)), and a monitor or television for screen. Not to mention a box.
Then came the fun of finding the correct place for all the components and soldering them into place.

1839 component pins !!

I wonder if anyone ever got it to work on the first try. Mine had a number of component pins which I had missed. Finding which ones, took quite some time.
And the first time it was connected to the power supply was very tense ! What if I’d made a mistake and the CPU would go bang ?
A new CPU in those days cost a fortune. I don’t have the exact price of a CPU, but a 2716 (2K EEPROM) went for 300 DKK !

(This is the kinda stuff we worked with in those days. Check the date on the chip !)

Well, in the end it worked and I started on learning how to make it do someting useful. (Although the machine has changed, I’m still sitting here !)

It wasn’t much really, only 1 kB RAM memory, of which a whooping 832 bytes were available for user programs !!!
It had an 8 k BASIC interpreter in ROM (from guess what company !), but the 1 kB RAM was not sufficient for running the BASIC !!!

Later, I built my own Z-80 computer with a 64 kB RAM board. This memory board later was hooked up to the Nascom. (Click here to see the novel technique used to connect the components on the board.)
My Nascom also got a home in the case from an old IBM 4978 Display Station, instead of always just lying naked on the table.

The 8 bit microprocessors was and are great for educational use. They contain most of the things which make up a modern processor, without the complexity of todays high-end processors.
And the Z-80 processor (which is still, after 25 years, available from Zilog ), is a great first processor.
Even today, it is still used in new products, because of it’s versatility.

But the Nascom-2 machines are now rare. Finding a working Nascom-2 today is no easy task. And with the availability of PC’s everywhere which is many hundreds times faster, who really cares ?

Well, some people do, and after the above story, I’m sure you’re now shivering in excitement and just can’t wait to lay your hand upon a specimen this historical computer.