Re: [ANN] X/ProFile -- Hard Disk Alternative for X/Lisa

From: James MacPhail <uo957_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2005 01:24:00 -0800

>As probably every member of the LisaList knows AND as stated in several
>discussion in the List months ago there is a guy, who already did exact
>the same over a year ago, what Sigma Seven Systems Ltd. wants to sell
>all people as a brand new invention :-)))

>Perhaps they simply copied, perhaps they engineered that on their own,
>perhaps Mr. Patrick Schaefer sold his knowlegde to that company; but as
>far as I'm concerned, I will not buy that, not only because I already
>use Mr. Schaefer's IDE-Profile Conroller...

With respect to Tom, who I consider to be my friend, the unlucky coincidence of the timing of these two products is just that... a coincidence.

I am sure that Patrick Schaefer spent much more than a year developing the IDEfile; just as it has taken us more than 3 years to develop the X/ProFile. This is the general timeframe of our work:

John Woodall and I started discussion of the X/ProFile feature list in early 2002.

I began work on the hardware and firmware in March 2003, with the first hand-wired unit working in September 2003.

A small lot of circuit board prototypes (Rev. A) were manufactured in June 2004, which we used for debugging the firmware and developing the features.

We first heard about the IDEFile in December 2004, and then had a very long-running debate about whether there was any point in continuing effort on the X/ProFile. Although we were close to having the X/ProFile ready, there was still a lot of work to do. At that time, I wrote to Tom to discuss his experience with the IDEfile, hoping to determine if there was, or was not, any point in finishing the development of the X/ProFile.

After waiting a few months to see what would happen with the IDEfile, we finally decided to continue with the X/ProFile on the basis that there are substantial differences between the products, and so they would appeal to somewhat different customers.

The first lot of X/ProFile production boards (Rev. B) were made in March 2005, and since then we have been working on testing and debugging, writing manuals, designing the X/ProFile Regulator, etc.

Although there are some general similarities in the function of these devices, I certainly did not copy or otherwise derive any benefit from Patrick's work. There was no need or desire to do so.

In fact, the X/ProFile isn't the first ProFile emulator I have built. The first was an ISA card for the IBM PC, developed by Paul Capes and myself. Along with the ProFile interface protocol, we published the emulator schematic on CompuServe in December 1987 (Yes, more than 15 years ago!), and it has appeared on various Lisa related web sites since the demise of CompuServe.

Paul Capes and I also developed and published the "LRamBo" 2 MB modifications for the Apple Lisa 512K memory board, and the subsequent modification that enabled using 4 MB under MacWorks Plus/II.

I do not know whether Patrick used any of the ProFile related information that Paul Capes and I published in the late 1980's. If he did, I am pleased, as the whole point of our putting that work in the public domain was to encourage such development.

Although I have seen pictures, I have not built (or even seen in-person) an IDEfile. I have looked briefly at Patrick's web page (where I learned the technical details mentioned below).

The IDEfile uses separate SRAM and counter chips much as our 1987 ISA design; in contrast, the X/ProFile uses a different technique that does not require these additional parts. In addition, the microcontrollers are very different; the X/ProFile use a PIC18F452, whereas the IDEfile uses an 80C31. Although I have not asked him, I would guess that Patrick would agree that the differences are much greater than the similarities.

Respectfully, I would suggest that each product has its benefits, and although there is some overlap, the market for each is substantially different.

Tom is very skilled with electronics and easily capable of building his own, so the IDEfile is a better choice for him. Others may find that the X/ProFile is more to their liking. I may be wrong, but I think that having a choice works out best for most people. (In fact, I expect that many enthusiasts will want both products, and I hope Patrick will permit me to purchase/build my own IDEfile some day.)

I apologize if the announcement implied that the X/ProFile was a "unique idea" or "the only choice". The intention was to convey that it is a new product from Sigma Seven Systems Ltd.

Some may not be aware that Sigma Seven Systems Ltd. is the continuation of Query Engineering, Inc. and has produced the following products for the X/Lisa, beginning in 1989:

 XLerator (original 16 MHz design with optional SCSI port and FPU)  LSAC (Lisa SCSI Accessories Card - boots MacWorks Plus from a SCSI drive)  QuickBoot (Replacement ROM for Sun SCSI card to boot MacWorks Plus)  MacWorks Plus II
 XLerator 12.5 (lower cost XLerator)
 XLerator 18 (fastest XLerator)
 X/ProFile and X/ProFile Regulator

I realize that it is hard to please everyone, but I sincerely regret any bad feelings that may have resulted from our choices for product development, and I assure everyone (especially Patrick and Tom) that no ill-will was intended.

Thanks for your understanding,


James MacPhail                   "Think not of engineering as art,
uo957_at_email.domain.hidden                 but of art as engineering"
Sigma Seven Systems Ltd.
james_at_email.domain.hidden        <>

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Received on 2005-11-16 01:24:32

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