The H-89 was sold under the two names: Heathkit H-89 and Zenith Data Systems Z-89. The H-89 was sold in kit form, the Z-89 came assembled.
It originally came with 16 KB of memory, later versions provided up to 48KB on the main CPU board (in groups of 1 KB chips). Zenith and Heathkit offered a 16 KB expansion card ($120) for a total of 64 KB when using CP/M.
The system was identical to the H-19 video terminal but had an additional CPU board between the CRT and the terminal board. (Really identical because Heath offered upgrade kits to convert an H-19 to an H-88/H-89 computer).
It used hard sectored disks with a built-in card controller. Under either H-DOS or CP/M, disk capacity was of 90 KB. Another model the H-88 was identical to the H-89, but did not include the floppy drive or controller. It had a cassette port.
A couple of years later, the H/Z-37 soft sectored controller and ROMS came out, then was replaced with a double 5.25" floppy disk drive called H/Z-87 (102 KB, 250 ms). A double 8" floppy disk drive called H/Z-47 (1 Mb each) and a hard disk called H/Z-67, it contained one 10MB 8" winchester drive and one 8" floppy drive (like the one in the H/Z-47).
It ran under HDOS or CP/M (the operating system used 16 KB of RAM).
HDOS was originally written for the H-8, it ran without modification on the '89. This was a single-user OS written by J. Gordon Letwin for Heath. It included a Basic interpreter and assembler.
For CP/M, H/Z wrote a custom BIOS in assembler that the new user could further customize for his specific hardware and assemble right on the machine.
A version of MP/M was also available for the system.
A lot of extension boards were available for this computer including 64 KB memory boards, hard-disk controller cards, 3-port serial I/O board, H19 terminal board, etc.
A third party small upgrade card was also offered which doubled the processor speed to 4 Mhz.
An assembler/debugger was given with the DOS. A paper tape reader was available as well. Microsoft has adapted its various programming languages (Basic, Fortran, Cobol) for this computer. Borland also offered a version of Turbo Pascal that worked great with the CP/M.
The base H-89 had no graphic modes, just 33 graphic characters. At least two different add-on boards were created that gave the H-89 bitmapped graphics capabilities, but I'm pretty sure they both required hardware modifications to tie them in to the terminal board - this was not a simple plug-in expansion card
I assembled a H89 whilst Principal at an elementary school. Wrote a program to number-crunch attendance for the dreaded Quarterly Report. The Superintendent saw it, and bought a TRS 80 for his needs. Mine was the first. Also played the horse race game on it, and figured out how to rename the horses after the School Board members. Computers for teaching came rapidly after this beginning.
Tuesday 25th February 2014
James Starbird (Van Buren, Arkansas)
This was the first computer my father bought so he could research how to do fusion through computer programming. My brother designed a Pacman program on (it was very primitive in the graphics area), and I did writing. It had to be booted up with a disk, and in those days, software did not have backups. One time I was saving a file, and it was too big for the disk, for the computer abandoned it!