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Impressions of the NZ Poly?

Share your reflections or stories of New Zealand's computing past

Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:29 pm

Hi,

Does anyone reading this have any experience with the Poly computer, a micro that was developed for NZ schools in the late 70s/early 80s? I'd love to hear your thoughts about the beast.

Incidently, for those of you that might be interested in this machine, there are a few articles in the early NZ Bits & Bytes scans at http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/bits-and-bytes/

Terry
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by YetiSeti » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:10 pm

I used these back at Logan Park High School in Dunedin around 1990-91. Wonder if I still have my guess the number or scrolling rocket program listings around. We had a Poly Lab and an XT/AT lap for the computing subjects. I love the classic case design, and the huge disk drives were something to behold.

The computer license test you had to sit (on the PCs) had a trick question at the end asking if you wanted a lolly. If you said yes, you failed and had to re-sit. Didn't see the humour in it.

I have an article somewhere from maybe 4-5 years ago about the Poly's. It told the bitter tale about the big bad bully Microsoft bumping them out of business. Blame Bill. Besides, before long I came to realise they were all evil, but then I read too much Register & Slashdot.

Sorry, B-key got stuck in my headboard.
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:46 am

Wow, I didn't know Polys were still being used around 1990/91!

I'd love to see one in the flesh. They are indeed an unususal design and something of a visual statement. They would certainly be a conversation piece if displayed in your living room. :)

Terry
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by arjoll » Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:10 pm

Mum taught at a local high school who had Polys in the early 80's - they have two networked to an 8" drive.

I don't remember much about them, alhough I did use them a couple of times - mainly playing with software some of the students had written. From memory they had quite nice colour displays and (I think) sound capability. That school replaced them with BBC model B's.

I thought their issue waswith Apple not Microsoft - they hit the market very agressively with the //e and I'm sure there's some articles in some early B&B mags about Poly lobbying the Government to slap heavy tarrifs on imports of Apple to protect Poly's market
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:55 pm

I've never seen a Poly in the flesh.

Yes, in the early Bits and Bytes issues there is a lot about the Poly vers Apples (and others) as far as school computers are concerned. Quite a controversy!

Tez
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:27 pm

At the time of writing, there is a New Zealand Poly 2 for sale on Trade Me. It's great to see a slice of history up there and working too. However, the reason for this post was to include a link put up by the seller, which fills in some of the history of the Poly. This link will disappear once the sale is over so I've decided to copy it here where the search engines can index it. Its an interesting first hand account of the Poly's development and fate from someone who was there.

See http://list.waikato.ac.nz/pipermail/ada ... 02116.html

Terry
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by YetiSeti » Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:20 pm

Now here's one that no one probably saw listed :

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=256940964

an Aamber Pegasus.

Probably should have bought the bargain of the century myself when it was mis-listed in a different category for cheaper, but looks like it's (I hope) gone to a good home and someone who knew about them.
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by Carcenomy » Sun May 08, 2011 1:54 am

Apparently there's a Poly1 at the Southland Museum, and they had no idea what it was, and no idea how the heck it got where it was. Might go down and check it out, if they let me get past the nazi regulations on photography I'll get some snaps.
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Sun May 08, 2011 8:54 pm

I'd like to see those. Presumably they know what it is now? Do you know if it's in working order?
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by Carcenomy » Sat May 14, 2011 1:04 pm

Just got back from the museum, the Poly is in the foyer. I would hazard a guess that she's not in working order - it's got some fairly heavy corrosion around the keyboard, and none of the cables are connected correctly. Has a 5.25" drive mounted on top of the unit. Very unique machine... I grabbed some photos, when I get around to syncing my phone I'll pop them up.

Tempted to find out who the curator is looking after the Poly - they're notorious at the museum for randomly removing exhibits and lord knows what they do after that - so perhaps I should find out what exactly the story is. Would make a fantastic restoration project for somebody.
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Sat May 14, 2011 2:44 pm

Carcenomy wrote:Tempted to find out who the curator is looking after the Poly - they're notorious at the museum for randomly removing exhibits and lord knows what they do after that - so perhaps I should find out what exactly the story is. Would make a fantastic restoration project for somebody.


Absolutely! It wouldn't hurt to do some further checking and perhaps even establish a relationship with them. A working Poly to show off occasionally would be really something. It's certainly a slice of New Zealand computer history.
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by Carcenomy » Sat May 21, 2011 8:24 pm

Image
Image
Image
Image
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by tezza » Sat May 21, 2011 9:03 pm

Thanks for posting those, it was certainly a unique design.

Some of the Poly's history in particular the bunfight that occured for the education market is documented in the early issues of New Zealand Bits and Bytes.

P.S. I see what you mean about the keyboard.
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by Carcenomy » Sun May 22, 2011 8:20 pm

So I flicked a few emails to Andrew Trotman from Otago Uni, who's heading up a Poly Preservation group.

Allegedly, the machine at the museum is operational and includes software. Too bad the museum didn't think to clean it up a bit for showing eh?
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Re: Impressions of the NZ Poly?

by Gibsaw » Mon May 23, 2011 3:49 pm

It's a real shame the Poly never got more traction.

Good lord, there's some bollocks in this blurb though... obviously written by an embittered progeni supporter. :D

64k being 4 x Apple II memory... Only if you specified the minimum configuration. Even the first model of the Apple II could take 48k of RAM. (a full 64k if you switched off the ROM banks using the "language card")

How much space did the poly's ROM's occupy?

And the misguided crud about 32 bit addressing... what the hell are they talking about?! The 6809 never had 32 bit addressing, and the implementation of OS9 on the 68000 would only have had 32 bit addressing in principle until the 68020 as there wasn't an external 32bit address bus... Hardly relevant to the poly, and OS9 wasn't a Progeni product.
Last edited by Gibsaw on Mon May 23, 2011 10:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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