Videonics VCU-1

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Overview:

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

  1. 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.
  2. It loads the editing software (DirectED/DirectED Plus) off a VHS tape

Specifications

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:

  1. The Motorola S38FC004PG02 chip. This is a custom ASIC which could be doing any number of things, including acting as a mask ROM.
  2. 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.

Modules:

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.

Known modules:

  • 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:

Twitter threads about the Videonics

Other info