Sussing out a Shimasu 286-16
The Shimasu 286-16 is the final computer to be assessed in the Wellington haul. Shimasu? I'd never heard of the company? According to Google sources, the word in Japanese means "to do" and there is a Japanese electronics company called Shimasu. However the label at the back of this computer says this unit originated in Taiwan. It could be Shimasu Japan, manufacturing out of Taiwan? This was the late 1980s so you decide.
Figure 1. The big red arrow points to the rather striking Shimasu 286-16
As the name would suggest this computer is a fast 286-based MS-DOS box. I found it interesting enough to write about.
A look inside
Like all the units in the Wellington haul, this one needed a good clean. This being done, I popped the top and had a peek at the innards.
Figure 2. A tidy baby-AT motherboard inside. Note the two banks of SIMMS.
I saw a small baby AT board with a couple of populated SIMM banks. Apart from the disk controller card there was a combined disk controller/multifunction card supplying 2 serial ports, 1 parallel and one unknown (gameport?) interface, plus a video card that seems to supply VGA or hercules mono output depending on switches. I didn't test the mono port, but VGA worked just fine.
Figure 3. Shimasu; around the back
Getting the system up and running
After this visual check to make sure everything was there, I connected the main unit up to a VGA screen and AT-type keyboard and pressed the start button! A memory check showed 4MB on board. The 1.2 MB floppy disk switched on, the hard disk spun...then the machine told me there was no operating system!
Hmm...obviously some work was needed.
Figure 4. The naked Shimasu
The exact specs. of the hard drive are needed for a low-level format; cylinders, head numbers, interleave, etc. The hard disk had SOME of the information written on it but not all. Googling around soon found detailed drive specs. and after a low-level format, FDISK and then a FORMAT with MS-DOS 5.0 the machine (now with 40MB hard disk) was set. Switching on this time resulted in a successful boot.
As with the other PC-type units received in this bulk lot, I put it through the wringer with the test program Checkit. Everything passed with flying colours.
Apart from a relatively small footprint, what impressed me most about this machine was its speed. At 16Mhz it's really FAST. This was particularly noticeable having just finished playing around with the much slower 4.7 MHz Commodore PCs. This machine was on fire! Of course it is a complete dog compared to today's PCs but hey, we are talking vintage computers here.
Figure 5. The Shimasu in full-flight
I'm not sure but I'm picking this was sold in 1989 or maybe even 1990. With its fast motherboard and dual SIMM sockets it represents about as far as the 286-based motherboards went. It was certainly a huge step up in performance compared to the original IBM AT released 5-6 years before, both in speed and size. However, the end was nigh. The 386 and 486-based units would soon replace this 286 technology.
Like the Commodore PC-10 III, I have no room for it in my collection. Hopefully I can find it a home.
20th November, 2010