Thanks to Gordon Dyer from England
Dr Joe Lee reports:
I still have my original North Star Horizon which I bought in 1980, and most of my income still derives from code written on it.
The USCD P-system was the original 'write-once-use-on-anything' environment (even Java still can't do that) and provided most of the facilities which were incorporated in Algol68 - the main rival to FORTRAN and which eventually formed the basis of ADA, the international language of Defence industries. Delphi (and thus C#) is virtually identical to UCSD Pascal, apart from the added OO features. UCSD introduced the whole concept of units, interface, implementation, self-containment and public APIs acting on black box internals.
The code I wrote in 1980 is STILL being run on a range of different hardware even in 2006! The same code file - YES, CODE FILE - is operating on a multiuser Pinnacle 68000, and toshiba portable PCs. Such was its power to be quickly hosted by new systems - the original manual states that it should only take a couple of days to port to any new environment.
The sad fact is that microsod spent 1% on development and 99% on advertising, while UCSD spent 99% on development and 1% on advertising....oh how much better off we'd be if the situation were different then.
Paul Nielsen reports:
The Northstar was also available with a beefed up power supply to support a hard drive (5 meg Seagate I believe). The floppy drives were slow stepping hard sectored (10 hole) diskettes. One could hear the stepper motor chugging the heads across the floppies. Quite fun.
Michael Lawson writes us:
We used to be a reseller of these computers and at one time they added an 18MB HDD that used an IEEE interface. It used at least an 18" platter (guesstimated) and took 3 minutes to spin up. When the heads went out of allignment we used to have to replace the ceramic tile that the platter sat on.
Wayne Bickerdike experience:
I developed a whisky stock control system for the Edinburgh, Scotland company Drambuie liqueur co. We had to upgrade the machine memory to 32K in order to be able to sort the stock files. The whole system spanned 2 floppy data disks with the programs loaded from a menu and then a prompt to have the user remove the program disk and insert the data disk. It was such a neat machine to work with. It was hooked to an ADM3A screen and a Centronics 779 printer.
I also developed a builders accounting system for a company in York, England on a Northstar Horizon.
I also worked with a Cromemco System 3 and Altos 8000 running both CPM and MPM.
Dick Archer's memories:
I was a NorthStar reseller for several years in
Portland, OR (USA). I sold a legal practice word processing package that
included WordStar and a daisywheel printer for $9,995 and I also sold and
customized the entire accounting/distribution suite.
Most accounting systems included the 18MB, 14" Winchester hard drive
but in the early days I did a system for a local chain of furniture stores
that ran on 4 floppies - 2 in the NorthStar box and 2 more external.
I even put together one system that ran MP/M but it was pretty rough
because the authors of MP/M were still developing the O/S - in their
NorthStar in Hong-Kong by Charles P Lau:
The company I work for is a reseller in Hong Kong back in the 197x, I
started my career as a computer technician when I learnt how to fix the
Dimension and late the Advantage, we sold hundreds of them here, mostly
multi-user system with HD18, 4x64K S100 RAM card, 4-port RS232. OS include
HDOS, OASIS and MPM. That was great fun !
Horizons in an English college by Stuart Bell:
I lectured in a Further Education College in England from 1979-1984, where
Horizons were our main machines - about 8 of them.
They sold 'Westminster Basic' which allowed 4 users with terminals to
program in BASIC on one Horizon. I recall they cost around £2000 each.
Later, we added 10MB HDs and a proprietary system developed in the UK by
Hotel MicroSystems which gave each user their own 'copy' of CP/M in their
own memory space, running COBOL and Wordstar.
Also, Horizons were one of the first machines to run the lovely UCSD
p-System, and offer Pascal to students. We 'sucked' that system off an
Horizon, using an Apple II as an intermediary, and re-wrote the BIOS to
get the p-System onto a friend's homebew Z-80 machine.