Tim Olmstead (1950 - 2001)

The Unofficial CP/M Web site owes it existance to the tireless and devoted work of Tim Olmstead. After months of negotiating, Tim obtained permission from the owners of CP/M, collected together the files, spent hundreds of hours with scanning and OCR'ing most of the documentation, and continually found some place that the Web page could be hosted.
Tim died in the age of 51, after a long struggle against cancer. Beside computer design, he was interested in Amateur Radio, and aviation.

Tim, we will miss you.

Some more legacies

FCOPY.ZIP, 68K: This program was written by Tim and Allison Parent in 1997. It's a simple work-around to produce
disk images. This is the third beta release, v0.02, which has probably been the latest version. Source code is included.

DRAM.PDF, 124K: Design and PCB Layout Considerations for Dynamic Memories interfaced to the Z80 CPU.
Written by Tim in 1996.
You may also want to have a look at the DRAM paper and schematics, 195K: The complete package including the related schematics as PS files.

In this place you can add your own thoughts and reminiscences to the page.
To avoid junk entries, I'd ask you to send me your entry by mail. Please include your name, place, and the message itself.

Jason Sosinski wrote:

A great legacy that Tim Olmstead has given you. Although I am not a CP/M user (yet), I do know about it and have always admired the things that the initial pioneers into the computer industry have done. Tim is among those that I have tried to be like in my life time.

Chris Barnes from Norfolk, England wrote:

He helped a lot of people, especially me, even though my interest was limited to Things GEM, DOS and x86. He responded one day to a request from anybody with a GEM programmers Toolkit for sale by pointing out I could get it free from his site. We had a rolling sort of dialogue over the next few years and I added a few bits to his collection, tidied the odd document or two, he was always enthusiastic even though most days he could only do a couple of hours, when I finally set up a site, only small and not big enough for a complete mirror, some of the DRI stuff found a home there to relieve the pressure on his.
His last email was as upbeat as ever ending

     "   ...I'm looking for a new host now. You got one in your hip pocket? HaHa!
     Good to hear from ya.
     Tim Olmstead WB5PFJ  "

We shall miss him.

Tim Olmstead wrote:

Hi, I'm Tim Olmstead's son, also named Tim. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their interest in my Father's work and in his legacy. And thank you very much for everyone for your kind words, it means a lot to my sister and I. It makes me very happy to see that something he started as a hobby has turned into a large community such as this. Thank you for continuing his work. If anyone has any questions or anything they would like to know about him, please feel free to email me!

Thank you!

Tim Olmstead

Shane Martin Coughlan from Birmingham, UK wrote:

I'm a student in the UK working on GEM, which - as you know - is around for me to play with because of Tim. I make the OpenGEM distribution of FreeGEM (http://gem.shaneland.co.uk) which is the only new FreeGEM distro in the last few years. Rather than seeing this old software die, we're seeing a bit of a return for it. It's been used to give street kids access to computers in Brazil, and now we're going to be seeing it in action in Turin, Italy, teaching kids about GUIs. Tim left a legacy that counts for an awful lot.

Scott D. Johnson from Midland, Texas, USA wrote:

I bumped into Tim's library earlier this year (2003) because of my work with embedded processors for the oil industry nearly 20 years ago and, ironically, today.
After more than 15 years, the company I worked for back then contacted me to work on code for the new generation unit, using advanced Zilog family processors. I dusted off my books, dug out my old simulator software from the last century and got back to work. However, my manuals were lost during a tornado while I was working in Oklahoma about 1990. Operating from my memory was barely letting me make progress. Searching the web only got me a tidbit of info here and there. Then I literally fell over Tim's project.

I was saved. Thanks to Tim's work, I got the information I needed to work much more efficiently and effectively. The Zilog programming and testing went so well (now that my memory was revived by Tim's manuals) that after that project was completed, I was then asked to do retro-programming for the ancient units still in operation in the field. This also went well because I had manuals for ASM, Link and DDT, from Tim's work.

In the last 6 months I have begun teaching 7 more people about assembly programming and they are doing great. I honestly feel that this would not be possible without the documentation available on this site. We've been talking about tackling a manual, in Tim's honor.
My thanks to those who keep his dreams alive. Those that benefit from the site should seriously try to teach at least one other person, change their life forever. Once you use ASM and DDT, you'll never be the same again... The rewards of being a teacher and seeing a student blossom are fantastic.

Best wishes,

Kristian Sander Hemdrup from Rødding, Denmark wrote:

Back in 1975 I started my career as a computer programmer. Although I started on an Univac and was programming Basic I really fell in love with the new exciting operating system called CP/M 2.2 in 1978. My first real computer was an IMSAI 8080 with the huge amount of 4 K memory. At that time I had a Flexorwriter as output unit (modified for my use - printers at time were really expensive) and an imported keyboard from South Africa (at the time with the Apartheid politics). It all worked fine.

Later I got a Teletype - it sure was an improvement to the Flexorwriter - although slower, but the i/o was improved - not the speed. At that time I had got a boot-rom (freeing me the burden to manually program the IMSAI - it was only funny the first 15 times), had got the Macro-assembler/ Linker and the programming was in assembler (turning each bit to improve code and speed).

As technology made if affordable the IMSAI was upgraded with a Z-80A (4 MHz processor) and 64 KB RAM and an 800 KB floppy system, but still running the well known CP/M 2.2.

Thanks to the good documentation I had got on C/PM I was able to write the necessary drivers to support the floppies. Programming had improved. Basic was exchanged to PASCAL but special routines were still written in assembler.

When I have the time (and the mood) I still work on my older Regnecentralen RC-702 (which - as you may guess - runs CP/M 2.2)!

But those were the days!

Paolo Beretta from Italy wrote:

Back in 1983 I begun my journey in the computer universe on a CP/M 2.2 system. I learned how to tamper and hack this simple and yet powerful OS. I always hoped that someone, somehow, could maintain alive the memory of all this knowledge, an heritage that should not be forgotten.
Tim Olmstead, a man I never met, did this quite well, and I thank him for it. The only consolation in death is that, in some way, someone did something worth to be remembered. Tim did this, and that's why, in the end, he achieved some sort of immortality. Personally, I'll miss his commitment in this project, people who knew him will probably miss much more. Even if mine is smaller, we all share a loss, but his work is surviving as a legacy. Our commitment will be to keep it alive, and that will be a way to keep Tim alive as well.
Six years have passed, but even if he's gone is not forgotten. Even if this late, I wish to give my deepest condolences to the family.

Douglas Goodall wrote:

Of all the sites on the Internet, this one means more than any other. There was something really special happening at Digital Research. I had the privilege to work there during the early eighties. It was totally humbling to work in the presence of hundreds of brilliant people. In the blink of an eye, ideas turned into code, one surprise after another.

The microprocessor industry was in the birth pangs of eight to sixteen bit processors, and what all these processors had in common was a need for operating system software and programming languages.

This web site brings all that excitement back when you see that each major processor had CP/M versions and language tools to go with. The code reflects the talent and experience that the DRI engineers brought together.

In these days when we ask ourselves, "Is there anything other than Microsoft that remains of the microprocessor revolution?" we can see that with a staff of several hundred employees, history was made. New machines came in one door, and targeted operating systems and language tools went out the other.

I can never thank Tim enough for founding this living monument to the work and excellence of the Digital Research experience. There is a vibrant and growing interest in vintage computing, and this site remains the prime source of code and documents that provide endless fun and wonder as we look back at the legacy of Gary Kildall.

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