De Grafe Silver UC/F

I never imagined there would be a computer that needed a granite base. :slight_smile:

This is a very rare computer, there appears to be only one complete example, and our machine here, which is far from complete, missing the monitor, graphics tablet and keyboard.

These French made PC’s date back to 1985 and were used in video and graphic animation production. The taller tower features a granite base, intended to keep the slim PC from toppling over. On the sides of these units are magnetically sealed expansion houses where the computers can interchange hardware with ease. Dimensions of larger computer: 11 x 57 x 50 cm. Smaller computer: 11 x 57 x 25 cm.

The Cotte Brothers in France around 1980 formed the Multisoft company to distribute the DAI Imagination machine in France, which attracted companies involved in graphics art. It had far greater capabilities than the Apple II, and the French government thought there was an opportunity for a home grown industry that could take on the big USA companies who dominated the Cinema special effects industry.

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I see there’s a linked video:

The computer would produce film titles, subtitles, cross video, graphics and animation, examples of what the machine could produce may be seen on youtube.

This article mentions a Z80 but also ‘seven processors’ for graphics.

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Hi, just found this forum when checking out some info. I think I can give some info on this system to anyone who is interested.
The lower picture of the compete silver setup is mine.
I am currently working on exporting a picture to a pc with the silver interface. That takes some work.
also I have a lot of documentation for this system.

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Welcome! Good to see you here. It will be interesting to learn more about the machine architecture.

Hi,
I would love to give the information you want. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I do have a (very) complete system with the base system, the memory-1 and 2 units, a fadec, keyboard, tablet, mouse and a lot of software cartridges.
As I wrote, I just took the machine out of storage to play around with it again and am now working on the pc link. Getting your hands on a (cheap) old pc with a 8bit ISA slot is a challenge.

Let’s start on your system (as I understand). Above it says you don’t have the keyboard, monitor and tablet.
Keyboard, I have no (current) solution for. The tablet is a Summagraphics MM1201, FCC ID BY78J71201 with a DB25 connector (and a 6 pin RJ11 connector on the bottom of the tablet for a pen or mouse). I was writing with someone and it looks like such a tablet should be available on the internet. (Pictures available if needed.

Regarding the monitor, I have a cable from DIN (P1+P2 rear side of the silver) to SCART. Pluggin the SCART into a samsung lcd tv with a SCART connector works fine.

So perhaps you can do something with that.

The last time I took the machine out of storage I made some pictures. I’ll try to place some of them here.
Off course if some extra information is wanted, please don’t hesitate to ask. As long as I have the information, I will try to share it.

Picture 1, the inside of the main Silver unit

Picture 2, yes indeed, it has a granite base.

Picture 3, Software is in these cartridges

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Picture 4, the inside of one of the memory extension. this one has the rows for software cartridges

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That granite base appears to be electrically connected. – Or is it just a pass-through for chassis ground? I’ve never seen something like this.

In the top picture (the one with the complete system setup) you van see a green burning power light. The wire you see is the wire used to power this light when the system is turned on.
This light is the only powered thing in the granite base.

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That is incredibly cool. I think this is exactly what William Gibson’s cyberdecks are supposed to be like.

Granite-Base2
Just for the fun of it. a long time ago I tried setting up a website with some Silver information. This was pre-cms, so HTML only. never got around finishing it.
So since I have a Wordpress site that does . . . wel . . actually nothing. I started to gather some newer pictures of the silver to make an informational site regarding this machine.
When it is completed (enough) I will announce it here. it will be lots of pictures, this I can say.
so I made a new picture of the granite base where the power light is clearly seen.

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So, I have made pictures like the ones above and currently I am putting them with some information on a personal website.
Picture of the main unit, the other units like the memory extension, the software modules and the tablet with the pen and mouse.
Anyone have some tips regarding what you as a viewer would like to see to his machine.

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I guess, besides curiosities (like that granite bar), anything that helps understanding the special architecture (and how things interact).

Thanks for the input. currently collecting more pictures. I will try to describe the different units that I have together with pictures of the outside and the inside. I am totally not a website builder so Wordpress gives me some attitude also :slight_smile:
i do have some pages in basic design with the main unit, the other units (like the memory units) the accessories (pen, tablet, mouse) and a page dedicated to software modules. I will also try to throw in some documentation.
Had to retake some pictures since during the process of making the pages there were some “this can do beter like that” moments :slight_smile:
Am am a bit straling with the real technical things. but we’ll see.

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fun fact. at this moment a silver unit is for sale on eBay in France

Hi, it’s me again :slight_smile: .
Working on putting some stuff in Wordpress. For now this will do (for me that is).

So, I guess who of you in interested in getting to see some things regarding this old machine. I have gathered some pictures of the inside and outside of the systems. I also gathered some of the software and hardware documentation.
The small disclaimer stands. I am NOT a website builder and the site below is just my Wordpress playground. So the rest of the site is some testing things.

So, feel free to look around. In the top menu you will find the “Silver” menu item and in this menu there are some pages filled with specific information. I am not finished with the site and I will make changes in the future.
Let me know what you think of it, oké ? tips are welcome regarding what I can add later.
https://www.blazez.nl/plaatjes/silver-main/

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This looks like a very neat machine.

The Centre for Computing History link suggests it’s based on the DAI Imagination Machine architecture. Is that different from the DAI computer (2 MHz 8080, optional AMD maths coprocessor, optional servo-controlled cassette tape streamers)?

Stewart

Thank you for making this page. It really conveys well what a complex system this is. Nice images!

A few tips regarding the content (provided, you have any information on these):

  • It may be interesting to know the original sales price of this system. (This must have been quite expensive!)
  • Are there some significant examples of its use (e.g., by TV stations, etc)?
  • The screen on the main photo looks interesting. Screenshots may be nice, also, anything about those special applications and capabilities…

Regarding Wordpress:
As you may have learned already (but may cause irritations), there are two sets of content in Wordpress: pages and posts. Posts are meant for blogs (organized by date and tags), pages are more suitable for a static site (organized by content relations and hierarchy), like yours. (Of course, you may have both, e.g., a static part describing the system and a blog on your ongoing explorations. On the other hand, nothing forces you to use Wordpress to run a blog and publish any posts at all.)
Pages may have some sort of structure, like parent and child relationship, but this is only reflected in the URL-layout (as in “/some-page”, “/parent/child-page”). In order to include or exclude pages in/from the visual appearance or even expose a completely different hierarchy, see the Tools menu and there the Menu section in the admin-site. (You may create any menu item you like, assign a name and the page/URL, just as you like. These may be completely unrelated to the directory hierarchy built by the parent-child arrangements in the content section. E.g., your “Home” menu item may also point to the silver-main page.)

Hi NoLand, and thank you for the input.
I will see if I van place more information on the site with your input. I am still working on the pictures of the screenshots. They were really terrible to be honest so I need to do them again. I hope to do that next week.
However, I can give you some information on your points.
Regarding the pricing. In the documentation I have I did find a price list from the company I worked for (see 2nd point). All prices are from 1987 and are in dutch guilders.
So for the fun of it I found an inflation calculator that takes the guilders from a specific year and translates that to euro’s today (with inflation until today).
So 10 guilders in 1987, is 8,95 euro today.
This makes,
The main DG-100 unit = 31.750 guilders == 28.427 euro’s today
The two memory extensions = 15.875 guilders (each) == 14.312 euro’s today (price per unit, so both = price x2)
The FADEC module, 9650 guilders == 8640 euro’s today
Software modules vary from 1135 guilders for a font cartridge (1016 euro) to 4700 guilders for a PROJECT1 cartridge (4208 euro)
That gives some idea regarding pricing.

I worked at a company that made equipment for (local) news agencies that made wat we called “Kabelkrant”. If you don’t know why that is, just think of something like a continues powerpoint presentation with local news, advertisements etcetera. This was broadcasted 24hours a day on tv by local TV providers. Each local news provider had its own area where it broadcasted (so yeah, we did see a lot of the country in those days. And I van tell you it was not funny to replace a silver in a newsroom that was located in the centre of a town where you could not get with the car :slight_smile: )
We also had an in-house studio that made things like commercials for clients.
The broadcasts were made in news offices and send via modem to broadcast computers that gave the tv signals to the tv providers.

And yeah, I am working on the screenshots. This will take some work since I currently don’t have a decent working video source. And I also am working on the PC link to get a picture on a DOS pc to get some details on the picture itself. This also will take some time (mostly since I don’t have an old pc (working on that)

So hopefully this gives some more information.

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As a small extra. just searched through YouTube to find something like the kabelkrant broadcasts our clients made those days. This one comes close. It gives some idea what I mean (in the quality of the day). Although I do not remember this as “one of ours”, it looks the same.

Hi Scruss,
I really can’t answer you regarding your question. I do not know the technical specs exactly between these machines. So I simply do not know.

Edwin