DD9 Kaypro Edition: Deep Dish Nine goes Retro!

Dd9 title screen 768x576
Via Chrisfenton.com

Sometime in the early 2000s I acquired a Kaypro 2/84 computer (side note: the picture in the wikipedia article with the mis-matched floppy drives is actually my Kaypro!), and I’ve been meaning to do something ‘interesting’ with it ever since. It’s a nice Z80-based ‘luggable’ computer running the CP/M operating system. General stats:

  • Z80 Processor @4 MHz
  • 64KB of RAM
  • Upgraded to use the ‘Advent TurboROM’
  • Upgraded to dual DS/DD 5.25″ Floppy drives (360KB/disk)
  • 9″ green CRT supporting 80 columns x 25 rows (or 160×100 pixels in ‘graphics mode’!)
  • Two RS-232 serial ports supporting speeds up to 19.2Kbps (one of which is tricked out with a sweet Wifi232 module, the other unused)
  • One Parallel Port (currently unused)
  • Unpopulated internal areas to support a real-time clock, and a 300 baud modem!

The TurboROM also adds support for the following (if you can find them, and/or figure out how to wire them in):

  • Up to 2 RAM Disks of 256KB, 512KB or 1MB each
  • Support for up to 4 floppy disk drives (180KB, 360KB or 720KB)
  • Support for up to 2 Hard Drives of up to 56MB each

Kaypro wikipedia

All in all it’s a pretty neat machine, and it’s an interesting example of the early computer world before Apple and IBM-compatible machines killed off all the competition. One of the nice things about a Z80 CP/M machine like this is that there’s actually a semi-viable software ecosystem lovingly archived and available fore free on the internet. You can find lots of ‘productivity’ software (spreadsheets, text editors, etc.), terminal programs, text-based adventure games like Zork and even development software like compilers. My recent forays (1, 2) back into game development got me thinking – how hard would it be to write a ‘graphical’ game for my Kaypro? I stumbled across one or two drawing programs for the Kaypro, but almost nothing else that actually took advantage of its limited graphics capabilities.

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