Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Forty Years of Personal Computing - Gimix 256 KB Static RAM

256 KB Gimix Static RAM board, sans battery.
In 1991, my employer moved to a new building. Before the move, we cleaned out storage closets containing old equipment. Much of this was obsolete gear. Things like pairs of "twiggy" disk drives removed from early Apple Lisa systems upgraded to 3 1/2" disks in 1985.

In one closet, we discovered something unusual. It was a complete Gimix III "Ghost" system. This was a  2 MHz 6809 system sporting a fifteen-slot SS-50 motherboard and eight SS-30 slots and floppy disks: a top-of-the-line 6809 system from the early 1980s. 

By 1991, the company had no use for this equipment. I had the impulse to take the entire system home, but I didn't have room. My wife and I were living in a small house and the garage was already packed. She would not have been happy if I brought home a bunch of equipment. 

Instead, I salvaged exactly one board -- a Gimix 256K CMOS Static RAM board. It sported 256 KB of memory, with several options, including battery backup. The rest was scrapped by an electronics recycler. 

Obtaining the board, I tried it out in my system. I was able to map in 4 KB blocks of memory and test them. They all worked. I might use the additional memory as part of a virtual disk drive. 

In 1994, I moved, and the entire system was stored away for over 25 years. Looking at it recently, I found it needed repair. Over the years, the backup battery failed and leaked electrolyte on the board and motherboard. Several Molex connectors are damaged, and need to be replaced. Some of the components show signs of corrosion from the battery electrolyte. 

I removed the failed battery. I do hope the rest of the board still works once the repairs are complete. Perhaps I'll fix it in my retirement.