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DigiBarn Systems:
Intel IDS Blue Box (drives)
Intel Intellec MDS 80 dual disk drive unit
Shows a ship date of June 1978
could be a series II?

Know anything about this? Contact us!

This mystery system is now solved!
Many people have written us about the "Blue Box"
we are including a sampling of folk's blogs below

On June 11th, 1006 I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Garrow who managed the development of the Intel Intellec MDS-80. Click here to see the images of Bob at our open house.

Bob finally gave us the full story of this no longer mysterious blue box:

MDS stood for Microcomputer Development System.  There were four principle components to the system a part of which is shown in the picture. 1) The MDS 800 which as a general purpose microcomputer system based on the Multibus IEEE standard that I co-invented.  2) The ICE Emulators.  ICE stood for In Circuit Emulator and was the brain child of Bill Davidow.  It was implemented by a colleague at Intel (can't remember his name) and used the MDS 800 as a platform.  It used one micro, like an 8080 to emulate another via the other's empty socket in a target system under test.  It was very clever.  The genesis was ROM Simulator that Davidow had been involved in prior to coming to Intel. 3) The Disk Storage box...which you have sans 8 1/2 disks.  4) A monitor done up in the same color scheme.

Now we just need to get the other pieces to make up a complete Intel Intellec MDS-80!

From Colin Hinz (April 2005)

The mysterious big blue Intel beast is one of their MDS (Microprocessor Development System) boxes. I worked with one a bit, in my first job out of University. I don't remember much about it now, but I did find this which serves as a good memory refresh:

"Whilst most modern microprocessor development is on the ubiquitous PC with a smattering of workstation and VAX hosts, in the early eighties when many of these systems were developed, the dedicated Microprocessor Development System (MDS) was the dominant development platform; on some very large projects, they would be used as an adjunct to VAX or PDP11 hosts. In simple terms, the MDS was an 8080-based computers whose purpose was to host the assemblers, compilers and emulators that were used to create new applications. The Intel Series II and III, a.k.a. the “blue box” were by far the most common, with the 8088-based Series IV being something of a latecomer."

Yeah. Expensive, and a bit of a pain in the ass. That's what I remember about those old Intel tools.

From Jonathan Snively (July 2005)


Saw your blue mystery intel drive. I suspect it is part of a mysterious intel computer ("intellec") that I know little about. Where I used to work we had one high up on a warehouse shelf, shrink-wrapped, palletized, etc., and I do remember that drive unit (with 8" floppy drives). I wanted the thing badly but never got the balls to ask for it! I tend to think it disappeared, probably to some engineer's basement. Anyways, found this link with picture:

Curator's note: the complete Intel Intellec MDS 80, note bottom unit below CPU and monitor is our disk drive!
(click for larger view) found at the following address:


Googling "intellec" may yield more info.


From Evan McNulty (July 2005)

The mystery blue Intel box is an Intel MDS-2DS dual diskette drive. There is next to no reference to this unit anywhere that I can find. It might be a bit too involved but this equipment is mentioned at being used in US Patent 4199816 (search at uspto.gov)

From Michael Superczynski (Aug 2005)

Regarding the Intel Blue Box located on this page.

A quick Google search using "Intel MDS 2DS" returned this link:

From the patent:

"It will be evident to one skilled in the art that there exists broad latitude in choosing an interrogating and calibrating computer system. As a concrete example, the particular components of the presently used system are as follows: Microcomputer 30 is an Intel MDS-800 "Intellec" microcomputer manufactured by Intel Corporation, Santa Clara, California. Disc drive 32 is an Intel MDS-2DS dual diskette drive unit.  Memory mapper 35 is an Intel UPP-101 universal PROM programmer with a UPP-878 personality card (for a 2708 ROM). Printer 37 is an Intel MSD-PRN matrix printer. Display console 40 is a Lear-Siegler ADM-3A interactive display terminal manufactured by Lear-Siegler, Anaheim, California. Signal buffer 75 is an Intel MDS-80-ICE signal buffer.".

So it appears to be a 2-diskette drive peripheral.


See Also:

Old-Computers page on the Intel Intellec series including the MDS

Digibarn's Intel iPDS personal development system (successor to the Intellec)

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