• The HP 2641A APL Display Station

    From Gavin Scott@21:1/5 to All on Sun Sep 20 14:48:40 2020
    Introduced along with APL\3000 in late 1976, the HP 2641A was a member of Hewlett-Packard's 264x terminal lineup and was intended to be the primary user interface for APL on the HP 3000. The terminal weighed 43 pounds (plus another 7 for the keyboard
    bringing it to a nice round 50lbs) and had a base price of $4,100. It was a derivative of the HP 2645A which had been introduced earlier that year, with the addition of APL-specific microcode and character cell ROMs. It contained an 8080A microprocessor
    and up to 16K of RAM, and utilized an unusual 2:1 aspect ratio CRT to maintain the character proportions from an 80 column card image.

    It can be seen in all its glory on the cover of the July 1977 HP Journal issue devoted to APL\3000:


    which also has a nice article about the terminal.

    It contained a 128 character APL character set and a 64-character overstrike set. Since it did not have a true Tek-style bitmapped display, it would translate A<backspace>B into the overstrike character representing B over A, IF it was one that it had a
    glyph for, otherwise it mapped onto a little OUT character (represented by the double-overstrike O<BS>U<BS>T).

    Underlined characters were supported as overstrikes using the 264x terminals inherent hardware support for underline character enhancements and did not require special glyphs in the character ROMs.

    The first edition of the APL\3000 manual only describes 17 overstrikes, yet the terminal contains a full 64 characters in its overstrike set, suggesting that HP probably tried to cover the needs of other APL versions in existence at the time with the
    idea of selling their terminals to as many people as possible. There are, for example, an additional 23 quad overstruck characters that might map onto the Burroughs APL I/O operations. Or maybe they were just leaving themselves room for future
    functionality that wouldn't require upgrading all the terminals.

    Having gotten APL\3000 running again my next goal was to find a way to get the full experience with some sort of simulation or emulation of the 2641's functionality. After looking into possibly modifying some existing terminal emulator, someone told me
    that the MAME emulation system had support for the HP 2645A, and the '41 is really just a '45 with different ROM contents as well as the APL character set ROMs etc., so this seemed like a promising lead, and in fact, after a couple of false starts we
    were able to find someone with a genuine HP 2641A who was able to dump the ROMs for us, and then it was relatively simple to adapt the existing hp2645 driver in MAME into using the character sets and firmware copied from the '41, and now we can once
    again see APL\3000 running through the terminal it was intended to use with the full APL character set, overstrike entry and display, etc!

    We should be getting it into MAME upstream soon, but in the meantime, if anyone is interested in playing with it, I've bundled it into my current HP 3000 simulation setup which you can find (at least for some period of time) at the following Google Drive


    It may be a bit of an adventure for those new to the HP 3000, but a fairly comprehensive hint-book is provided in the README.txt file and it's actually very easy to get the 3000 up and running and there's a .bat file that will fire up a simulated HP
    2641A and connect it to the running 3000 for you. Again, the README talks about APL and the terminal and getting into APL\3000 and switching into HP terminal mode for the 2641 features.

    This is an 8MB HP 3000 Series III+ (the original only supported up to 2MB) circa 1979 with five HP 7925 disks loaded with MPE V/R from 1986, a massive amount of Contributed Software Library contents including many of the most iconic computer games (
    Advent, Dungeon (Zork), TREK73, Empire, Mystery Mansion, DROID, Warp, etc.) as well as the APL, BASIC, BASICOMP, COBOL, COBOL II, RPG, SPL, FORTRAN 66, and PASCAL language subsystems, IMAGE DBMS, etc. It makes quite a nice little personal mainframe (ok,
    it was a minicomputer but it looks pretty good functionality wise alongside the big hardware of the day being very user friendly and approachable in comparison). The MAME HP 2645A and HP 2641A are bundled in and only a double-click away. It's completely
    turnkey and set up to be ready to run. See the README.txt for instructions. Requires Windows.

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  • From jibanes@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Thu Dec 31 02:47:18 2020
    Excellent, thank you!

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  • From apl.explorer@21:1/5 to jib...@gmail.com on Thu Dec 31 10:51:23 2020
    On Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 5:47:20 AM UTC-5, jib...@gmail.com wrote:
    Excellent, thank you!

    The only Windows computer i have is an old Dell Latitude D830 with Windows 10. The graphics inside the Dell Latitude is not good enough for the MAME facility with the HP3000 emulator and the HP APL terminal software.
    ( error message about Direct3D or something )
    Any hints on what to do?

    -- William Gallant

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  • From Gavin Scott@21:1/5 to sigma.research@gmail.com on Thu Dec 31 11:44:07 2020
    On Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 12:51 PM apl.explorer <sigma.research@gmail.com> wrote:
    The only Windows computer i have is an old Dell Latitude D830 with Windows 10.
    The graphics inside the Dell Latitude is not good enough for the MAME facility
    with the HP3000 emulator and the HP APL terminal software.
    ( error message about Direct3D or something )
    Any hints on what to do?

    Maybe no trivial solutions apart from finding a better Windows system, however...

    The newly released official MAME 0.227 (mamedev.org) now includes the
    HP 2641A emulator so you can download (or build) a version for other
    operating systems. You could then run my version of the 3000 emulator
    on your Windows system and connect to it from wherever you have MAME
    running. You'll need the hp2641.zip file from the 3000 distribution
    under lib/roms for your MAME version to supply the needed ROM images.
    You can look at the Start_HP2641A_APL_terminal.bat file for hints on
    invoking MAME and connecting to the 3000. IIRC you need to change the "localhost" to a hostname that resolves to the machine where the 3000
    is running (I don't think a raw IP Address works, or maybe I have that backwards so you may need to experiment).

    I can provide my version of the 3000 emulator source if you want to
    try building an HP3000.EXE equivalent for Linux etc. I still plan one
    of these days to get my large memory changes back into the upstream
    simulator from David Bryan and maybe make a Linux version myself but
    haven't gotten around to it yet.


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