3DO Station v. 4.0 - What is this thing?

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StephenT
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3DO Station v. 4.0 - What is this thing?

Post by StephenT » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:34 pm

Greetings! I volunteer at the Goodwill Computer Museum here in Austin, Texas. We frequently get odd systems in here as a result of being adjacent to the Goodwill computer recycling stream, and this little gem came through yesterday on its way to getting torn down. We intercepted it, cleaned it out, and powered it on (see the video). But we have no discs or controllers to test with it so we can't tell just how functional it is.

3DO Station Startup - Vimeo

I'm very curious about what the heck this thing is, and I hope y'all can help. It has no branding other than the 3DO logo and the text "3DO(tm) Station v. 4.0" on the front. Inside is what appears to be a large development board with a lot of custom wiring and a few different PROM chips. The back has standard 3DO I/O plus an FDDI interface and a couple of connectors I don't recognize.

We would really appreciate any information y'all can provide about this development system. Thanks! :)
The Goodwill Computer Museum: Preserving the Experience of Computing
http://www.goodwillcomputermuseum.org

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Lemmi
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Post by Lemmi » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:01 pm

i just want to say thanks for saving it from the recycling stream

others will be along sometime today to tell you exactly what it is :)
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Vance
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Post by Vance » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:54 pm

I'll take a look when I'm at a console that can handle video, but that sounds way outside my experience.

If you've stumped these forums, you ain't finding out without tracking down old school 3DO code monkeys.

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Vance
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Post by Vance » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:56 pm

Er, also: You guys get a lot of working Tandy computers? Daddy wanna roll with some REAL nostalgia.

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Mobius
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Post by Mobius » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:51 am

How bizarre, I love it! I suspect it's prototype hardware sent out to early developers. Game companies will often provide their developers (and early-adopter third parties) systems like this so that they can begin development before the hardware is finalized. Once the hardware is finalized (or very nearly finalized), they tend to provide systems with a similar form factor as the actual hardware. (See the 3DO Testing Stations.)

FWIW, it is running the BIOS from the FZ-1, the first hardware revision.

Edit: I found more about this in the SDK. There's even a picture! It may be fairly common development hardware, rather than just an early prototype.

This is absolutely official development hardware. The FDDI interface (referred to as NuBus in the official documentation) is how developers would hook the machine up to their Macintosh development hardware for debugging.

Here's the info:
3DO Debugger overview

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The 3DO Debugger environment has three components: the 3DO Debugger, the 3DO driver and the target monitor (see Figure 1).

The 3DO Debugger runs on the Macintosh. It presents the user interface and controls the 3DO hardware through the 3DO driver running on the Macintosh, and the target monitor running on the 3DO hardware.

The 3DO driver also runs on the Macintosh. It performs the low-level control through the NuBus card. The Macintosh automatically launches the 3DO driver each time you boot the system.

The target monitor resides on the 3DO hardware. It performs low-level hardware control in response to the 3DO driver. The 3DO driver communicates with the target monitor through the NuBus communication board and launches the target monitor each time you reset the 3DO hardware.

Image

Figure 1: Components of the 3DO Debugger.

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T2KFreeker
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Post by T2KFreeker » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:14 am

Okay, now that is absolutely awesome. I'd be all over that just to have it. Nice. Also, I agree, thank you for saving it from being ripped to shreds!
This is a stick up! Put all of your 3DO games in the bag and nobody gets hurt!

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Mobius
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Post by Mobius » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:24 am

Stephen, I'm interested in the Goodwill Computer Museum, but the link in your sig says your domain expired last week! You should see to it that gets fixed!

I have family in Austin and I might want to check the place out next time I visit. :)

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bitrate
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Post by bitrate » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:29 am

Yep, that's a development station for coding and executing on 3DO hardware.
The setup is supposed to have a CD drive that connects to the tower via optical.
I have one of these units and Pitsunami has one as well. There may be another one of us around here who has one as well.

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StephenT
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Post by StephenT » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:00 am

Thanks everybody! That is some excellent information. I will put our team on the lookout for a Quadra or Power Macintosh with that NuBus card. Usually stuff comes in together like that. Would be great to have the set!
Mobius wrote:Stephen, I'm interested in the Goodwill Computer Museum, but the link in your sig says your domain expired last week! You should see to it that gets fixed!

I have family in Austin and I might want to check the place out next time I visit. :)
Thanks for the heads-up. We'll get the Goodwill IT folks on top of it. We're located at the Norwood Park Blvd complex at the intersection of I-35 and 183. Come by anytime during the week and ask for our curator, Russ Corley. I'm in there on Mondays and Tuesdays usually. We'd love to show you around!
The Goodwill Computer Museum: Preserving the Experience of Computing
http://www.goodwillcomputermuseum.org

jakelight
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Post by jakelight » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:36 am

The museum is great! I am a fellow Austinite and saw it when the Goodwill was at the old location (~7 years back). Also be sure to check out Game Over Videogames on Anderson Lane near Llamar which has a nice gaming console museum.

-jake

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