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Jeff Drew Interview
The interview started at 22h00 GMT.

sardaukar_siet: So, can we get started now?

Jim Drew: Sure.

ClockWise: Thanks for coming, Mr. Drew... much appreciated.

Jim Drew: You're quite welcome.

sardaukar_siet: First, let's do introductions...

sardaukar_siet: Mr Drew, tell us about yourself, please.

Jim Drew: What would you like know?

ClockWise: Some background stuff... when you started in this field, etc...

sardaukar_siet: Yeah

ClockWise: What products you have done

Jim Drew: I started programming in 1976.

Jim Drew: First computer was a PET2001. 8K RAM, built-in cassette recorder.
sardaukar_siet: Wow!

ClockWise: Classic :)

Jim Drew: I was born and raised in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

sardaukar_siet: By the way, check out www.computingmuseum.com for info on the PET

Jim Drew: My father was a museum currator, and needed a computer to keep track of the museum's inventory.

Jim Drew: (1 million items)... needless to say, the PET wasn't sufficient. :-)

sardaukar_siet: yeah

Jim Drew: I had one of the first PETs available... the one with the tiny display and little keyboard. I STILL have the computer.

sardaukar_siet: Still ? Wow again

Jim Drew: I have every computer that I have worked with (except main frames).

Jim Drew: Apple ][/][+, TRS80, C64, C16, C128, B128, +4, 8032, SuperPET, etc. etc.

sardaukar_siet: PET was a Commodore product, right ?

Jim Drew: Yes.

Jim Drew: I was the Oregon state technical rep for Commodore.

sardaukar_siet: You were ? Wow !

Jim Drew: I worked very close with Commodore for a long time.

sardaukar_siet: How did you react when it died ?

Jim Drew: I don't know... we still sell a LOT of Commodore stuff... so, in my eyes, it has not died.

sardaukar_siet: Did you worked with Amigas?

Jim Drew: I think I did around 60 commercial products for the C64.

Jim Drew: Yes... the Amiga still is the best computer ever made.

sardaukar_siet: Ok :)

Jim Drew: Everyone has the Amiga to thank for FUSION-PC.

sardaukar_siet: In Portugal, the 4000 series is still VERY used

Jim Drew: Same in the U.S. The video toaster is still a great product.

sardaukar_siet: Well, tell us of Emulation

sardaukar_siet: what made u start ?

Jim Drew: Well.. that was an absolute accident. :-)

Jim Drew: For about 15 years, I designed commercial duplication software (tape and disk copiers).

Jim Drew: I designed a product for the Amiga called, "SYBIL". It was a hardware device that allowed the Amiga to read/write virtually any disk format known.

Jim Drew: It could duplicate every trick in the book.

sardaukar_siet: Wow!

Jim Drew: As a by product, it could also allow the reading/writing of 800K (low-density) Macintosh disks.

sardaukar_siet: Did that use the left-side expansion port ?

Jim Drew: No.. it plugged into the video port and parallel port.

sardaukar_siet: Video port ?

Jim Drew: Yeah, the Amiga's video port has all of the clocking lines.

sardaukar_siet: Oh

Jim Drew: Basically, by altering the frequency of the entire Amiga (which controlled the clocking for the floppy controller chip), you could vary the data rate for read/write operations.

sardaukar_siet: Sounds very tricky...

sardaukar_siet: Could it copy Macintosh copy-protected disks ?

Jim Drew: Yes, it could copy ANYTHING.

Jim Drew: At that time, there was a Mac+ emulator called, "AMAX". It was sold by ReadySoft (the same people that made Dragon's Lair and other Laser disc based games)

Jim Drew: ReadySoft asked me to make a version of SYBIL that could be detected, and allowed to be used with their A500 version of AMAX (which was a little board that plugged into the floppy port).

sardaukar_siet: Floppy port ??

Jim Drew: Yes, they read the ROMs through the floppy port... interesting idea... it also had an external floppy port for a real Macintosh floppy drive.

sardaukar_siet: cool

Jim Drew: At that time, Mac drives were about $200 each. SYBIL was $89.

Jim Drew: So.. we came to an agreement that we would make a special version just for ReadySoft.

Jim Drew: ... then, after completion, ReadySoft decided to not use our version and were going to be able to check for it and disallow its use!

sardaukar_siet: ReadySoft really did bad with that

sardaukar_siet: Didn't Apple got mad at all that copying thing?

Jim Drew: Nope, Apple said nothing.

Jim Drew: That little project cost us about $100,000.

sardaukar_siet: Geez %(

Jim Drew: We were so mad about what happened that we decided to make a Macintosh emulation of our own and compete with ReadySoft.

Jim Drew: So... we made the world's first full color Macintosh emulation!

sardaukar_siet: Oh, that was the start of Fusion, right ?

Jim Drew: Nope... FUSION didn't come for another 6 years.

sardaukar_siet: did it took that long for your product to finish ?

Jim Drew: The product was called, "EMPLANT". It was basically a MacII motherboard on an Amiga plug-in card.

sardaukar_siet: That sounds expensive.

Jim Drew: It took about 8 months to design and debug the entire product (which sold for $399).

sardaukar_siet: And did it sold ?

Jim Drew: It had AppleTalk ports, SCSI port, etc. .. just like a real Macintosh... and we sold a ton of them.

sardaukar_siet: How did ReadySoft react ... ?

Jim Drew: They tried to compete by making a color version of their software, which was short lived, and we put them out of the emulation business.

sardaukar_siet: You still have any of those boards ?

sardaukar_siet: Because I own an Amiga 600 ;)

ClockWise: Was Microcode Solutions in existance at this time?

Jim Drew: Nope... Microcode Solutions was not formed until August 24th, 1996.

Jim Drew: The boards require an Amiga with a Zorro slot.

sardaukar_siet: Zorro ?

Jim Drew: The is the name of the Amiga's plug-in socket... like ISA or PCI.

sardaukar_siet: Does the 600 feature one ?

Jim Drew: No.

sardaukar_siet: DAMN

sardaukar_siet: I just bought it a mont ago

Jim Drew: We do have FUSION for the Amiga, but it does require a 68020 or newer CPU (which the A600 does not have either).

sardaukar_siet: yeah

sardaukar_siet: guess i'll stick with SpindDizzy Worlds.. ;)

Jim Drew: Utilities Unlimited International, Incorporated was the name of the company that Joe and I worked for, and produced EMPLANT, MAC Lite (Software only version of EMPLANT), and eventually FUSION.

sardaukar_siet: Joe ?

Jim Drew: Joe Fenton

Jim Drew: One of the programmers of FUSION-PC

sardaukar_siet: Still works with you ?

ClockWise: Does it still exist? Did you found it?

Jim Drew: Yes.

Jim Drew: Yes <- Joe still works with me. UUI went out of business in August of 1996.

ClockWise: When you left... ;)

Jim Drew: UUI went out of business because of ShapeShifter

Jim Drew: I formed Microcode Solutions on August 24th, 1996.


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