Resurrecting a Heurikon HK68K Multibus board

Way back, late 1980’s, I worked for AES Data. A Canadian company that was one of the early makers of word processing equipment. They had a cluster controller, the C20, and various Z80 based standalone devices. At one time they were also designing a Z8000 Multibus system to run Unix Sys V. CBC’s Venture made a program about about AES Data.

Ethernet was coming into popular use, and the C20 needed to add this capability. A team in Montreal was designing a 68000 board for the C20 to handle the interface. To get a jump start on software development, I was tasked with getting the protocol stack working on a Heurikon HK68K board along with an Ethernet controller.

Long story short, AES Data eventually went away. In the process of winding down the Toronto development lab in 1986, I bought 4-5 of the HK68K boards. At the time I had manuals, schematics and who knows what else. For a while at home I played with these, compiling Xinu on a Masscomp MC500 and loading it onto the HK68K via an Archive Scorpion streaming tape drive.

Fast forward to 2013 and here I am, trying to get one or more of these boards running. In the intervening years I had loaned/given away the manuals and the person was not responding to my attempts to get a copy. After some intensive searching on the WWW, I came across John Stewart who had posted a video of Heurikon’s production facility on YouTube. After running into dead-ends with the companies who serially took over the Heurikon support, I contacted him. He put an email out to the ex-Heurikon staff and several days later I received an email from Jeff Mattox, the designer of the board!

There was great amazement that one of these boards still existed, let alone 3 of them. Jeff very kindly sent me a manual, then schematics (with his notes on them) and lastly a manual for the Hbug monitor. I thought I had source code for this monitor but it seems someone else at AES Data decided to call their board monitor Hbug as well.

So, that is the story of how we got to the point of actually firing up one of the boards.

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