The Superbrain was an integrated system with keyboard, display and disc drives. The system used two Z80A microprocessors at 4 MHz, one for the main processing, and the other for peripheral activities.
The dual 5" floppy disc units could be 2x170 KB (single side), 2x340 KB (DS), and a 10 MB CompuStar hard disk could be added.
The SuperBrain was sold with the CP/M operating system, Microsoft Basic, an 8080 assembler and Microsoft Cobol 74.
The SuperBrain II appeared in 1982. It offered a faster and enhanced disk operating system, new video visual attributes and better graphics capabilities.
More information from Michael Hoyle who was an application engineer for Intertec; he is now the President of CornerStone Technologies, Inc.:
All Intertec systems were sold, installed and serviced by dealers around the
Intertec manufactured the entire product including designing and producing
the circuit boards and molding the cabinets.
Intertec first manufactured dumb and smart terminals. The dumb version was
called Intertube. The smart one emulated various common terminals (VTxxx
etc) and was called the Emulator. They looked similar to the Superbrain, but smaller.
The SuperBrain and SuperBrain II was 5¼ floppy disk based CP/M machines.
Four models in each category:
- 10 (no drives - network only),
- Jr 170K,
- QD 340K,
- SD 780K.
Each could have one or two drives. Intertec did not sell or support a hard drive or an S-100 bus for these machines.
The network version of the SuperBrain was called CompuStar. The network was a parallel cable design with large gray cables about ½" diameter. CompuStar
had three "file servers" that accepted up to 255 machines:
- DSS-10 10MB 8" Winchester drive,
- CDC 96MB, 80MB fixed with a 16MB removable platter,
- Priam 144MB 14" platter winchester.
Intertec manufactured the controllers for the last two and an enclosure/PS
for the Priam. CDC had to go on-site to install the 96MB.
I wrote my first sf novel, Fools Errant, on a Superbrain that I'd bought used in Vancouver in 1984. I also wrote scores of speeches (my profession in those days), on it. Eventually I lent it to a PR consultant friend who wanted to learn word processing. It was stolen from her office by junkies.
And now an item of trivia: in the late eighties I was involved in the games business with the people who created Trivial Pursuit. They told me that the questions for the first-generation game had all been written on a Superbrain.
i bought my superbrain in 1983/84, and used it for bond yield/pricing calculations, and to do interest rate swaps as a municipal bond broker. by today's standards, it was a very slow ant. but, it was a giant step in speed and memory (dual floppy drives! and 64k of system memory vs 16k) over my previous and first computer - a trs80 with a casette recorder for software, which i ended up having to write myself. so, i used the superbrain diligently for 2 or 3 years before i replaced it with my first pc clone. the superbrain (and the other computers, as well) definitely gave me a leg up on my competition, and made me some serious money (for those days, anyway).
still have the computer (and the software) in my attic. maybe i'll have time to play with it some day, unless someone knows of a collector.
Saturday 21st October 2006
mediarays (florida, usa)
It was back in the early 80's that I wrote my PhD Thesis on a Superbrain, with 1FDD and 1HDD; I do not recall the exact model. A serious problem was that the fan was driving the air from the inside, through the drives to the face of the user! Also, the HDD used to vibrate and touch from time to time the fan; I pushed a pencil through the slot and stabilized the shaky HD; my supervisor used to pass a piece of paper in front of the paper, expecting this to be the wordprocessor (humor!). Since my thesis was rather long (600pp), I decided to print it to the central line printer; the alternative was to write it in n/troff, but I decided to try the emerging WYSISYG approach. So I chose the Superbrain with WordStar XX. Then I processed the files in order to convert the WS text formatting commands into the line printer commands. In parallel, I managed to connect the Superbrain to the Campus IBM370 and FTP'ed my files to the mainframe. This was 1984 and not many people in the Computing Lab have even thought this was an option. They tend to consider only mainframes as real computers, while all personal computers were considered as toys. But this data comms exercise contained actually many solutions which latter became popular and common. I recalled these years because recently I decided to convert some CP/M WS files on CP/M FDs into WordXP. I used first the 22DISK.EXE, which can read CP/M FDs into DOS files. I processed the files via WSBIT.COM to remove various confusing bits from the text (which cause fonts problems), and converted the processed files via WSRTF.EXE into Word-readable .RTF files. The rest was easy. All above mentioned utilities are freeware available in the web.