Category Archives: Retro computing

Osborne Restoration part 11: floppy controller debugging

The story so far: I’ve bought two Osborne 1 portable computers (circa 1982) and am trying to get both working.

The first one (henceforth known as the “bad” one) had no boot disks, but would power on to a boot screen. I couldn’t get it to boot from a USB floppy emulator with an appropriate disk image, and when I subsequently obtained genuine boot disks it wouldn’t boot from them either.

The second one (henceforth known as the “good” one) was in much better condition, came with boot disks, and was generally working. I’ve restored it (re-capped the PSU, cleaned the drives, fixed a broken key) and will be trying to get more software running on it.

But I really want to get the “bad” one working again. I hate to see historic technology in that state, and if it’s restored to a working state I can pass it on to another collector. In a non-working state it would be destined for the parts bin :-(

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Osborne Restoration part 8: transferring files with an RS232 interface lead

Having got one of my Osbornes working correctly, the next challenge is to get software installed on it. I now have the originally-supplied set of disks containing business software, but as it is a CPM machine, there are countless other programs available (and archived online).

So let’s see what my options are for copying the software to my Osborne…

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Osborne Restoration part 4: floppy emulator first tests

I have no boot disks for this Osborne 1. The plan was to connect my USB floppy drive emulator to the motherboard, and boot from that.

My floppy emulator uses the HxC firmware on Gotek hardware.

The author of the HxC firmware managed to get dedicated HxC hardware to work with an Osborne 1.

As a follow-up to that thread, another user got the HxC/Gotek combination to work with his Osborne 1 (with additional pictures here).

So I looked to be on to a winner!

If only things were that easy…

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Osborne Restoration part 2: a bit of investigative surgery

First off, I decided to have a look inside my newly acquired Osborne to see what I had in store.

The front cover comes off easily after removing the monitor brightness/contrast knobs and a few screws.

Good news: that daughter board at the back (with the grey floppy cable coming out of it) means it’s had the Double Density controller fitted:

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