Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

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Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2010-12-12 @ 20:42

I realize that this may not have any relevance to games, so the answer may be simply "no," but here's the question anyway:

In the 1980s and early 1990s there were a number of portrait-orientation full-page CRT monitors, the most popular being the Genius and Genius2 series from Micro Display Systems. These were monochrome monitors (text mode supported only the normal, underline, bold, and blinking attributes supported by the IBM MDA); they displayed text or graphics in resolutions such as 736x1008 (66 lines of 80-column text). They came with drivers for a hundred or so applications, including anything running under GEM.

WordPerfect shipped with text and graphic drivers for the Genius series - and again, I know this is very much an application, not a game.

But if anyone has patched DOSBox so that it can emulate the Genius series, I would be very grateful to know the details. I know this is very unlikely, but it seemed at least worth asking.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby h-a-l-9000 » 2010-12-12 @ 21:37

Apart from not being useful for games I doubt there is sufficient technical documentation available on the display adapter. You could hack in a 80x66 VESA mode though if that is useful.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2010-12-12 @ 22:48

h-a-l-9000 wrote:Apart from not being useful for games I doubt there is sufficient documentation available on the display adapter. You could hack in a 80x66 VESA mode though if that is useful.


An 80x66 text mode that used the full-size 8x14 fonts would be ideal. I'll try to teach myself enough to make the hack, but that won't happen for a while.

Meanwhile, as you of course know, DOSBox already supports VESA 80x50 text, but in a tiny font. If I switch to VESA 80x60 text mode using the WordPerfect driver, something curious happens: the font size remains the same, but the visible window seems to show only the first 25 lines of a longer (60-line?) window. In other words, in both windowed and full-screen mode, the display still has the standard 4:3 proportions, but the application seems to act as if the display could display 80x60. I hoped that there might be a setting in the conf file that would let me display the 80x60 window correctly, but I can't find it (if it exists).
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby h-a-l-9000 » 2010-12-13 @ 18:10

DOSBox doesn't have a 80x60 VESA mode so it won't work.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2010-12-13 @ 18:22

h-a-l-9000 wrote:DOSBox doesn't have a 80x60 VESA mode so it won't work.


Thanks - I'll stop trying to get it to work in that case!
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-13 @ 18:37

What type of video card was used to drive those monitors?
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby h-a-l-9000 » 2010-12-13 @ 18:40

Must have been something proprietary
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2010-12-13 @ 19:32

h-a-l-9000 wrote:Must have been something proprietary


Exactly: you bought the monitor and a custom ISA video card as a package. Those were the days. Here's a review of one of the Micro Display Systems Genius setups:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cj8EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51

If you click backwards and forwards to a few other pages in the same story, you'll see some other models, including a Princeton model with 1200 x 1664 resolution. Not bad for 1988.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-13 @ 19:44

One way to go then would be to add emulation of that ISA hardware as a separate machine= option in DOSBox.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2010-12-13 @ 19:53

HunterZ wrote:One way to go then would be to add on emulation of that ISA hardware as a separate machine= option in DOSBox.


It won't be worth the trouble to emulate the graphics of that hardware (VESA resolutions are just fine). What I'm trying to put together is a hack/option to get a lot more than 25 lines (maybe 60 or 66 lines) of the 8x14 VGA/MDA text font, but available in the vesa* machine type. With the large monitors out there now, it would be nice to be able to get the VGA/MDA text font *and* a 60-plus-line display. That's obviously going to require a hack, because there's no conceivable reason for DOSBox itself ever to include this option - no game ever used anything like it.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby JohnElliott » 2017-7-12 @ 10:19

I've documented what I know of the Genius hardware here. While there are some unanswered questions, I was able to implement enough of it in PCEM that the GEM and Windows 1.x drivers worked -- so it should be possible to add the same level of support to DOSBox if required.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2017-7-12 @ 11:25

JohnElliott wrote:I've documented what I know of the Genius hardware here. While there are some unanswered questions, I was able to implement enough of it in PCEM that the GEM and Windows 1.x drivers worked -- so it should be possible to add the same level of support to DOSBox if required.


I'd be very interested to see if the WordPerfect Genius-monitor drivers work with this. Is there a Windows download available for PCEM with Genius support? The current web page doesn't mention it. And of course if you're interested in trying this yourself, I can supply a copy of WPDOS 5.1 with the Genius driver.

Incidentally, for anyone interested in GEM, here's a general history:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_ ... nt_Manager

Full DOSBox-based disclosure: I've never heard of a game with drivers for the GEM environment, but it's possible they existed. The last time I used GEM was with Ventura Publisher, which had GEM built in, as I remember.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby JohnElliott » 2017-7-13 @ 23:25

emendelson wrote:I'd be very interested to see if the WordPerfect Genius-monitor drivers work with this. Is there a Windows download available for PCEM with Genius support? The current web page doesn't mention it. And of course if you're interested in trying this yourself, I can supply a copy of WPDOS 5.1 with the Genius driver.


The patch is in the current PCEM development tree -- I don't think there'll be a pre-built Windows download until the next full release.

emendelson wrote:Full DOSBox-based disclosure: I've never heard of a game with drivers for the GEM environment, but it's possible they existed. The last time I used GEM was with Ventura Publisher, which had GEM built in, as I remember.


There are a few games that run on Intel GEM (I had a go at implementing 2048, back when that was getting ported to everything with an API; you can find it here. And there's a Tetris ported from Atari GEM).
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby JohnElliott » 2017-12-24 @ 00:39

emendelson wrote:I'd be very interested to see if the WordPerfect Genius-monitor drivers work with this. Is there a Windows download available for PCEM with Genius support?


There is now -- v13.1.
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Re: Patch to emulate 1980s full-page monitors?

Postby emendelson » 2017-12-24 @ 00:54

I'm about to download it. Thanks for the notification here...
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