First post, by VileR
*** WARNING: deep historical geekery ahead! ***
Here's something I'm trying to figure out: there's this group of video chipsets/cards by various manufacturers, and the VGA BIOS in all of them seems to be related. Specifically: they all have the same distinctive font(s) when operating in text mode.
What I'd like to know is exactly *how* they're related - what's the common factor. (As some of you may guess, yes, this is related to my VGA font collection project.)
My best guess would be that these video BIOSes were all written by "SystemSoft", but I can't be sure, so perhaps some of you here could help confirm or falsify this.
Here's the list of cards/chips and what I've found out so far:
- Chromatic Research MPACT 2:
Several cards with this chip are in the VGA Museum. This page has a downloadable BIOS for Vlask's card (an STB Nitro DVD), and this is the only actual BIOS dump I've found from any of the card discussed in this post.
Strings in this BIOS image mention this happy crowd of companies:
MPACT Media Engine Operating System
(c) 1993 SystemSoft Corp.
(c) 1995,1996 Chromatic Research Inc.
STB Nitro DVD AGP
BIOS Version 1.90
Copyright (C) 1998 STB Systems, Inc.
Copyright (C) 1993-1998 Chromatic Research, Inc.
Copyright (C) 1993 SystemSoft Corporation
Copyright (C) 1990-1996 Elpin Systems, Inc.
All rights reserved.
And at the very end, we have:
VGA FONT 1.05.02 02/16/93 ACM
"ACM" probably being the initials of some guy who worked at SystemSoft or Elpin, and must've been proud of his work 😉
For reference, the fonts look like this:
- NeoMagic 128XD:
As seen in MetalJesusRocks' Compaq Presario 1611. Same text-mode font as the MPACT above: https://youtu.be/WNSejwB53HE?t=675
No VBIOS strings visible in the video, and no dump found.
- NeoMagic 2160:
Found in a video posted by our own VOGONS member MAZter. Same font appears once again: https://youtu.be/QLcCcDpjnIk?t=7
No VBIOS strings visible / no dump found.
- Silicon Motion SM910:
Found in the same video as above, 4 minutes later - same font: https://youtu.be/QLcCcDpjnIk?t=247
No VBIOS strings visible / no dump found, but this one probably has SystemSoft stuff in it -- there's this page of SystemSoft utilities here, and it includes a configuration program for the SM910.
Since I only have exactly one of these lookalike VBIOSes, I can't confirm my hunch that "SystemSoft" is the common factor.
So: if you own one of these NeoMagic or Silicon Motion-based cards - can you check for copyright strings / company names in the video BIOS, and post them here?
(I guess the same thing goes for any other VGA card that isn't mentioned here, but looks the same in text mode...)