• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Monroe 80186

SpidersWeb

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
2,697
Location
New Zealand
On a local auction site a Monroe 80186 PC (~1983/1984) has popped up that appears to be in working condition.
It's the kind of neato thing I'd love in my collection, but not if I can't do anything with it.

It is supposed to run CP/M or MS DOS but clearly it's a non-standard architecture and I'm concerned that it's OEM operating software may have vanished from the surface of the planet.

Does anyone know of any one with one of these, and/or possibly have access to boot media?
 

SpidersWeb

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
2,697
Location
New Zealand
Cheers Chuck, let me know if you find anything.

MS DOS 2.x and CP/M 86 DPX are the two operating systems it came with. Latter seems quite interesting as it makes use of the systems ability to run dual CPUs - apparently so you can run CP/M 80 software on CP/M 86 with the Z80 daughter card.

Machine has a hard drive, but 1980's half height drives generally aren't something I put a lot of faith in when it comes to maintaining their original low level format, but who knows.
 

2icebitn

Banned
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,861
Location
Principality of Xeon
The larger issue is it has no keyboard. You can't assume it'll just take a clone. Otherwise I'd take a chance on it for 30$. There is 1 bid though.
 

SpidersWeb

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
2,697
Location
New Zealand
The larger issue is it has no keyboard. You can't assume it'll just take a clone. Otherwise I'd take a chance on it for 30$. There is 1 bid though.

Yeah I think the chance of an XT keyboard working is a bit higher than normal but not guaranteed of course.
Worst case reverse engineering can happen, but I don't see myself ever compiling my own OS to run on it.
 

2icebitn

Banned
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,861
Location
Principality of Xeon
Yeah I think the chance of an XT keyboard working is a bit higher than normal but not guaranteed of course.
Worst case reverse engineering can happen, but I don't see myself ever compiling my own OS to run on it.

Then modify the hardware to boot standard dos. No sense in maintaining a love affair with ancient hardware.
 

SpidersWeb

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
2,697
Location
New Zealand
lol I think what he might've meant something more like...

"Modify it if you need to and don't feel bad about it not being original"

But I wouldn't go that far, I have other DOS machines I can use. This is only really interesting as original to me.

Pretty cool business system really, 16 bit all around, 8Mhz CPU clock, graphics standard (mono or RGB option), 720K floppy, up to 876KB RAM, dual CPU option (Z80+80186) and pizza box sized.

While researching this system I read a quote in one of the mags that went something like... "a system without software is nothing more than a doorstop". Which is how I feel with it, so if there isn't really anything out there then I'll go easy with the bid work. Someone else may get it, and if they do I hope they see this and post in here.
 
Last edited:

Scali

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2014
Messages
2,024
Location
The Netherlands
Then modify the hardware to boot standard dos.

Is that even possible?
The 80186 is more of a 'system-on-a-chip' than a regular CPU. Problem is that this 'system' is not based on the IBM PC standard. Its integrated interrupt controller, timer, DMA controllers and such, are not compatible with an IBM PC, and some of the registers 'clash' with the chips on the IBM PC (see here: http://www.cpu-world.com/Arch/80186.html, eg its built-in timer 2 is where the PC's keyboard controller would be,
'chip select' is where the NMI mask register is on a PC). So I don't think it's possible to create a fully PC-compatible machine on the basis of an 80186/80188 chip by default.
 

AlexC

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2015
Messages
271
Location
Germany
In the UK, Research Machines sold 80186-based PCs for a while, mainly into schools. The RM Nimbus PC-186 ran a modified version of MS-DOS and Windows, so that might be a good starting point when looking for boot disks.
 

2icebitn

Banned
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,861
Location
Principality of Xeon
Totally not the case. There has been at least 1 fully compatible mobo based on the 80186. The onboard peripherals don't have to be utilzed. What about the early HP palmtops, the IBM PC/Radio. The Tandy 2000 has all then peripheral chips that a 5150/5160 has. In short, anything is possible.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,810
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
My index says that I've got disks for both the 8800 and System 2000; the 8800 is single-sided 96 tpi; the 2000 is double-sided 96 tpi. Does either of these sound right and warrant digging them out and seeing if they have system files?
 

Caluser2000

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2010
Messages
4,665
Location
New Zealand
Totally not the case. There has been at least 1 fully compatible mobo based on the 80186. The onboard peripherals don't have to be utilzed. What about the early HP palmtops, the IBM PC/Radio. The Tandy 2000 has all then peripheral chips that a 5150/5160 has. In short, anything is possible.
Yeah you can build your own from scratch...
 

liqmat

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
645
Location
Kemo City
Anyone have the link to that auction? Have no interest in it, but would like to see it.

Nevermind, found it.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,810
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
Totally not the case. There has been at least 1 fully compatible mobo based on the 80186. The onboard peripherals don't have to be utilzed. What about the early HP palmtops, the IBM PC/Radio. The Tandy 2000 has all then peripheral chips that a 5150/5160 has. In short, anything is possible.

Yes, but the Tandy 2000 isn't PC-compatible at a hardware level. That's not a personal opinion, either. From WikiP:

The Tandy 2000 was nominally BIOS-compatible with the IBM XT, which allowed well-behaved DOS software to run on both platforms. However, most DOS software of the time bypassed the operating system and BIOS and directly accessed the hardware (especially video and external ports) to achieve higher performance, rendering such software incompatible with the Tandy 2000.

A system that's nominally BIOS-compatible can boot MS-DOS, regardless of what it uses for peripherals. I'd venture that the Mindset was a bit closer to a genuine PC than was the 2K.

The NEC V40/V50-based PCs were much closer to the PC XT hardware-wise.
 
Last edited:

Dwight Elvey

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
4,781
Location
Santa Cruz
AMD made 80186/80188s for some time but not now. I don't know anyone still making them. I have a Forth that I put together for a 80C186 that uses the on chip serial. One fellow took it and put it on a modem that had a 80C188 and was able to make it useful. It is relatively simple but would be easier than starting with nothing. One would still have to write disk I/O, video, keyboard and such. It was made to be ROMed.
Dwight
 
Top