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M > MICROKIT  > Vegas 6809   

Vegas 6809

The French electronics magazine Le Haut-Parleur (The loudspeaker) published several articles about how to assemble the first modular computer based on the Motorola 6809 microprocessor. The author of the articles was Christian Tavernier, the computer was thus named "Tavernier". The operating system was Flex, also choosed by SMT Co. for its Goupil II and III which were selected by the French Department of Education as small network servers.

But the Vegas was actually conceived in the editorial offices of another French Electronics magazine named Microsystème which published the schematics of this professionnal computer based on a single card holding all the nesessary components: 6809 CPU, 64 KB of RAM, 2 x Parallel Centronics I/O, 2 x Serial RS232 I/O, one SS30 expansion bus. The diagram of the computer took advantage of the application notes published by Motorola, about the 6809, 6821, 6850, 6840 and 6545 chips.

In 1983, the MICROKIT company started to sell the machine in kit form, it was a modern and professionnal computer that could be gradually enhanced.

A 6545 chip managed the video interface, which could work in 80x24 or videotext mode (40x24). This mode was used in the French Minitel and TV Videotext. The same chip was used to manage this graphics mode in the last TV generation at the time. The VEGAS had no graphic mode. The display unit could be either a standard TV set or a monochrome composite monitor. The keyboard could be acquired separately. It was connected to one of the Parallel ports and used 8 data lines and one 'strobe' signal.

Several 5.25" or 8" floppy disk drives could be used, from 360 KB to 1.2 MB (single or double-sided, single or double density). Up to 4 FDD could be connected in chain. To our knowledge, there were no hard disk connection because the card lacked a DMA port and the Flex OS didn't managed directories.
The sound output was a bit basic, only an square signal provided by a Motorola MC6840 with variable frequency, but no volume adjustment.

In the first Microsystème articles, several expansion card were promised: Enhanced video, EPROM programmer, synthesiser, etc. But most of the expansions were home assembled by anthousiasts who acquired the main board. A 512 x 512 video card was described in the magazine though, holding 64 KB of RAM and allowing image superimposition. It was connected to the Parallel port and seen by the system as a printer!

The main board held a simple hexadecimal monitor in ROM. Lots of programming languages were available under FLEX: several versions of Basic interpreters ands compilers, PASCAL, C, LISP, FORTH, etc. A spreadsheet, a word processor (Stylo) and a database management were also available. However, the Flex version of the Vegas wasn't compatible with the Tavernier and Goupil versions.

Thanks to Jacques Rivet for most of the information.

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NAME  Vegas 6809
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  France
YEAR  1982
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  Basic on disk
KEYBOARD  Full-stroke keyboard
CPU  Motorola 6809
RAM  64 KB
TEXT MODES  80 x 24
GRAPHIC MODES  80 x 48 with 8 colors (in fact 40 x 24 with semi-graphic characters)
COLORS  8 colors
SOUND  mono square signal with variable frequency
SIZE / WEIGHT  Unknown
I/O PORTS  Centronics, 2 x RS232 (9600 baud max) connectors, Clock, Joystick, Bus S100 (8 slots), Monochrome video output, RGB video output, Audio output
BUILT IN MEDIA  Two 5.25'' disk drives
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply
PERIPHERALS  High resolution graphic card, SS39 Bus card
PRICE  Kit model : 9885 FF (France, Dec. 83)

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