New hardware alert! My 256K memory expander from MicroFox arrived on Friday and I was able to set aside some time this weekend to install it and try it out. One thing you’ll notice if you look at the pictures is that there are actually 2 cards that make up this expansion. One card is the actual expander that contains the memory chips and the other is a connected “addressor” card. The addressor card sits in slot #2 and allows Adam to address expanded memory beyond 64K.
Even with the addressor card, most ADAM software can only use the system’s base 64K RAM + 64K of expansion memory (Coleco shipped their own 64K expander back in the day). So you might ask “what’s the point of installing more than 64K?” The answer: RAM DISK!
CP/M and T-DOS (an awesome CP/M variant for ADAM) both recognize all the extra memory and use it as a super-fast RAM disk. This will be very convenient when I’m working with Turbo Pascal for example because the compile times fly since any include files can be pulled from RAM instead of disk or tape.
For EOS (Adam’s built-in OS) there are a wealth of RAM disk utilities available (like Adam’s Desktop, SmartDSK, MegaDisk, and many more) and I’m still exploring them to see which will suit my needs best. Most of these tools give the user the option of using the entire expander as a RAM disk or reserving one 64K bank of memory for expanded RAM and allocating the rest as a RAM disk. Which option you choose just depends on what you want to do with Adam at that time. The coolest thing about using a RAM disk with EOS is that the contents persist even when you reset the computer! Only a complete power-down destroys the contents. This allows me to treat the RAM disk as a sort of temporary hard disk since I can reset the computer to load other programs without disrupting my files. I can see this being very useful for jumping between SmartBASIC and a sprite editor for example. Speaking of SmartBASIC, loading code from the RAM disk is obviously incredibly fast and the expanded RAM gives me a lot of room for larger and more complex programs to be written.
I’m still wrapping my head around all the benefits of having this extra RAM but one thing I know for sure is that this 256K expander is an excellent addition to my Adam!