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D > DURANGO > F85   

DURANGO  Durango

The Durango was built by Durango Systems, Inc in San Jose, CA. It came with a 8085 processor running at 5 MHz, 64K memory as standard and could be expanded to 128K in the multiuser version. The F-85 was marketed as a portable computer with integrated 180 cps dot matrix printer, two floppy disc drives and a 9" monitor. Well, only very strong users could carry it ;-)

The Durango ran a proprietary operating system, DX-85, as well as CPM. DX-85 had multiuser extensions and the business applications were supported by a proprietary ISAM handler. In addition to the system user, 4 users could hook up via video terminals on serial connections. These users could run programs in their allocted memory space on the F-85. Some interprocess communications were available.


More information from Chuck Guzis who was involved in the development of the Durango operating system:
• The basic system came with 64K of parity-checked DRAM; an optional 64K or 128K of parity-checked DRAM was optional. When the additional memory was added, a bipolar mapping RAM was also included that divided the 64K memory space of the 8085 into 64 1K pages. Any page of physical memory could be mapped to one or more page locations.

• Only an IEC power connector and 9 pin DIN CRT connector and 37-pin DIN external floppy connector were present on the basic unit. However, options included an IEEE-488 interface, 4-port serial interface and async/sync/bisync serial communications, so the number of external connectors could vary.

• The standard floppy configuration was 2 100 tpi 5.25" group-coded floppy drives, each storing 980KB on a DSDD floppy. The data encoding was Durango-proprietary. Early systems interfaced to the then-new Shugart 14 inch Winchester drive via a modified IEEE-488 protocol. Capacity of these drives varied from 7 to 40Mb. Later systems replaced one of the floppy drives with a 5.25" hard drive of between 7 and 40MB. An optional 2-drive floppy external unit was available as an option; the F-85 could support up to a maximum of 4 floppy drives.

• In addition to the extensions mentioned above, the integrated dot-matrix printer could be upgraded from a single-pass 2 monospaced font mode to a multipass high-quality print mode with downloadable font sets. In this case, the printer ribbon was changed to mylar film instead of linen and the carriage drive, printhead and electronics were upgraded. The printer could feed standard perforated forms or be switched to a friction feed for printing on standard stationery.

• The CRT was a 9 inch unit that was placed on top of the floppy drive part of the system.

• The standard operating system was called DX-85M, a multi-user multitasking system, which interfaced to up to 4 additional users by means of terminals (made by Beehive) connected to the serial multicomm interface. It included most standard file management capabilites as well as an integrated ISAM file system. It was not necessary to regenerate the system when the hardware configuration changed; the necessary extensions were loaded at boot time.

• There were two busses used, one in the main system card cage, which was loosely based on the Intel Multibus and one used in the smaller auxiliary card cage located behind the floppy drives, which was a proprietary 100-pin configuration.

• The standard programming language was a compiled version of BASIC called Star-Basic. Almost all applications and utilities were written in this language, which compiled source code to byte codes.

CP/M 2.2 was available as an option. There was a project to include MP/M 2.0, but was discontinued when Durango began work on its Unix-based Poppy 16-bit system.

• A standard set of business applications was available including GL, AP, AR, Inventory, Payroll, Word Processing and a spreadsheet.

• Durango's philosophy was to provide the customer with a complete system with all needed applications and customer support included.

• Around 1980, a marketing change was made and the F-85 was re-named the 800; a cost-reduced version with a slower printer (really just a different set of firmware) was called the 700 and the multitasking model with extra memory and high-resolution printer was called the 900. In fact, any model could be changed to any other in the field.

• Sometime in 1982, Durango merged (or was purchased by) Molecular Systems, which subsequently became insolvent and was dissolved in 1984. At that time, Durango was attempting to market its 16-bit 80186/80286 dual-processor Unix/MS-DOS system, but could not compete against the new IBM-compatible PCs that had been introduced.

I was involved in the development of the operating system; I wrote the ISAM file manager and the floppy disk drivers. I was in charge of the Star Basic language and was responsible for its design and implementation. I also designed the bank-switching mechanism for the add-on memory. I also did the CBIOS adaptation for CP/M 2.2.

Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).


I want to donate my Durango F85 computer. Purchased about 1980. Please text or phone me at 905-741-2658 Ken Bolt

Tuesday 9th August 2022
Ken Bolt (Canada )

Like Andy Dent I did some work in around 1981 with Star-Basic on the Durango for the same company in Perth, Western Australia. I was developing a corporate share registry. Incredibly capable machine for its time.

Monday 9th August 2021
Ralph Goodwin (Australia)

Starbasic still lives on! I worked for a UK company for 28 years (through various acquisitions) and the software still uses it and the ISAM database. Around 2005 we were getting restricted by the capabilities even though it had been ported to SCO unix / AIX etc. So we bought a license for the compiler and RUNtime and I did a load of improvements, increased program size, linked it to run alongside Java, replication of data out to SQL Server etc I still use it for quick utility programs to process text files, used it for so long it’s second nature!

Sunday 25th April 2021
David Ovington (United Kingdom)


TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  1977
KEYBOARD  Full stroke 84 key
CPU  Intel 8085
RAM  64 KB up to 192 KB
VRAM  2 KB, DMA from main RAM
TEXT MODES  80x24 / 64x16
COLORS  Monochrome
SOUND  Piezo buzzer
SIZE / WEIGHT  28.5 (W) x 22.5 (D) x 16 (H) inches / 30 kg
I/O PORTS  9 pin DIN CRT, 37-pin DIN external floppy
BUILT IN MEDIA  2 x 980 KB/DS.DD/100 tpi 5.25'' floppy disc drives
OS  DX-85M, CP/M 2.2
POWER SUPPLY  Switching power supply unit - 86-250 VAC
PERIPHERALS  14'' then 5.25'' hard disc, 1 or 2 external FDD,
PRICE  From $11,000

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