Miles Gordon Technology was started by Allan Miles
and Bruce Gordon and was the company best known for producing
the DiSCIPLE disk interface for the Sinclair Spectrum. Bits of my brain are
also telling me MGT designed and sold a 'mainframe' type add-on for the Speccy
too - a metal box containing a motherboard that let you plug in many modules
to expand yer humble 16 or 48K machine. Note to self: delve deeper into brain
and/or magazine collection :)
I remember the SAM in its infancy - it was covered by
the main Speccy magazines of the day - and can recall pictures of the design
in hand-wired breadboard format. Must dig them out. I lost touch after that
'cos I bought an Amiga 500. Sorry :)
The SAM was an excellently designed bit of kit - 256K
of RAM and a 6mhz Z80B CPU powering a whopping great big 10,000 gate ASIC (Application
Specific Integrated Circuit - I think of them as turbo ULA's) to support the
functions of the machine; this means the motherboard of the SAM is tiny compared
to the size of the case, which is so designed to allow the addition of 2 1mb
(unformatted) 3.5" floppy drives originally made by Citizen, according to the
Tech manual. At the time these floppies were the thinnest you could buy as well
as being the 2nd fastest!
Unfortunately, because of their previous Speccy work the
SAM was seen as the next machine Speccy owners should go to instead of 16-bitters
like the Amiga 500 and the Atari 520ST - sort of a 'Spectrum TNG' - and despite
initial promise of software by the bigger games companies it never materialised
and MGT went into receivership only a year after launching the machine. I have
vague recollections of ROM problems with the initial batch concerning the disk
interface so I need to do some reading!
Despite all the company problems there was still a good
userbase (think Enterprise
64)and people soon started hacking together their own hardware and software,
and according to a posting on comp.sys.sinclair
(the Sinclair fanbase newsgroup on USENET) there's still small tradeshows and
exhibitions based on what's seen as the fastest 8-bit machine around!
I still can't get over how the PSU looks like the Amstrad
For the Classic Gaming Expo in July '04 I got my paws on a Quazar floppy drive interface
for this machine to allow me to install a standard PC floppy drive. Colin Piggott, the designer, hand builds these
things and sells them for around ukp35 which ain't bad at all!
Next up is the finest SAM I've ever seen, packaging wise. The machine itself has browned slightly
but no complaints here because it's a 512K twin floppy variant and still works nicely. The previous owner, Kenton Knight,
sent it to me in its original shipping box wrapped in brown paper so ParcelForce had to go all out to damage it....
which they managed. Gimps. Kenton also included a stack of floppies containing disk-based newsletters, games and utilities,
and after christmas I'll sort 'em all out. I also need to do internals pix of the machine for my own curiosity if nowt else :)