The Videonics VCU-1 is an interesting home video editing solution from 1989 that worked by controlling multiple VCRs and mixing them together.
It's an interesting system for two main reasons
- It's x86 based. The main CPU used is an NEC V40, which is a sort of 8088 clone enhanced with some 80186/80286 instructions.
- It loads the editing software (DirectED/DirectED Plus) off a VHS tape
CPU: NEC V40 at 8MHz
RAM: 256 kilobytes
NVRAM: 8 kilobytes
Output graphics: 768x480, with overlays using 64 colors
PSU: 21 watts, with 7 watts used by the base unit.
Initial program load (pre-VHS)
An open question about this system is where the initial BIOS is stored. There's two primary possibilities:
- The Motorola S38FC004PG02 chip. This is a custom ASIC which could be doing any number of things, including acting as a mask ROM.
- The Dallas DS1216-enabled SRAM chip. This chip is built into a socket which contains a rechargable battery, and turns an SRAM chip into a NVRAM. It can only store 8 kilobytes, but it's possible some code is stored there.
The Videonics VCU is designed as a modular unit which can have multiple add-ons stacked under it to add additional functionality.
The manual says the expansion modules are connected through a bus providing 4 video & 4 audio channels, and a 38 kilobit/second serial bus.
- Source Add-on. This add-on adds support for a serial mouse, 5-pin-din keyboard (AT or XT protocol?), printer, and aux & main edit controls (mini-din-8).
- S-Video Add-on (official name unknown). This adds a mini-din-8 aux edit control, as well as s-video ports for: aux in, monitor out, main vcr in & main vcr out
Archived copies of the VHS-based Software:
- Videonics DirectED Plus 3.65 (uploaded by diognesthefox)
- Videonics Graphics 6-Pack (uploaded by diognesthefox)
- Videonics Graphics Library 1.03 (uploaded by diognesthefox)
Twitter threads about the Videonics
- My pickup & teardown of the initial unit (October 17th, 2020)
- The remote, with teardown (and repurposing into a keyboard) (October 23rd, 2020)
- Second unit pickup (October 29th, 2020)
- Failed attempt at loading the archived DirectED Plus 3.65 software off the internet archive onto the second unit (November 3rd, 2020)
- Third unit pickup, with VHS tape and manual (November 9th, 2020)
- Videonics Tape testing (November 15th, 2020)