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About Microfusion - cfbsoftware - 07-04-2023

ChickenMan stated the following in the Repository Additions section of this forum: 
Quote:This unit was shown to Owen Hill late last year for comment and he had never seen it or heard of Microfusion.  A google search found nothing except Computer Interface Australia P/L had received some research grants from the government....

I have located a couple of documents on the Internet which show that Microfusion was a major supplier of School Library Automation software and was based in WA.

1. Computer education: new perspectives, Martyn Wild and Denise Kirkpatrick:


Quote:During this period a contract was also let for the supply of library automation systems for schools (i.e. Microfusion) under the auspices of the School Library Automation project...

Although there are several references to the Microbee in this document I couldn't find any indication of how they were used by Microfusion.

2. Much more information about Microfusion, but no mention of Microbees is in:



RE: About Microfusion - ChickenMan - 08-04-2023

Thanks for those Chris, it appears Microfusion had some software for School libraries in the mid to late 90's and I doubt Microbees would have been involved with them at that time.

RE: About Microfusion - someone - 11-04-2023

From the limited information published it seems that the ROM is just another butchered DGOS ROM with the FDC drivers replaced with Microfusion Network drivers which interface to two types of network interfaces.
There's a bidirectional serial interface using 2 free pins of the microbee's serial port & provision for an auxilliary parallel port connected device.
The microbee bit bashed serial & tape I/O remains intact.

The keyboard reset & POJ circuit is a bit different with the BOOT ROM being located at %0000. When it boots, it copies the butchered boot ROM image to %E000 and then jumps to it.
Like other microbee boot ROMS the keyboard is scanned during the reset key released but with a few variations:
  'B' forces a boot from CIFNet interfaces.
  'M' goes to the butchered DGOS monitor
  'BRK' execs the program at %8000 (presumably a priorly downloaded MWBASIC image).

If no key is pressed, it then checks its sysinit bytes and if these are not initialised the ROM image (now in RAM) checks the parallel port and if an interface is detected the unit is assigned unit numbers 0-9.
If the unit is not detected, the bottom 5 bits of the onboard DIP switch are read to assign unit numbers '@' through 'X' or '?'.
Be aware that some of the boot ROM variables have been relocated and thus are not 100% compatible with the original microbee Boot ROMs and may cause issues with some programs.

The network boot code is enough to connect to a server, load its network BIOS/drivers and continue executing from %D600.

RE: About Microfusion - ChickenMan - 15-05-2024

There is currently another MicroFusion Microbee on eBay at the moment ( https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/226145701357 ) so decided to contact the seller to see if he was were able to shed further light on the unit.  He replied with -

This came from a computer room clearout in a NSW public school on the lower north shore. May have been Artarmon or somewhere nearby. It had obviously been networked as there was a server in a PC style case. I sold a pair last year and this one is probably the same. Eventually I will find the server which is currently inaccessible and I'm pretty sure it had a hard drive.

So there is a good possibility that it was used in a school Library.

RE: About Microfusion - ChickenMan - 01-06-2024

The seller eventually acquired the server and 2 more Microfusion Microbee's, and now up on eBay - https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/226170712497
The Server was an IBM XT with 20mb HD and 2 5.25" floppies fitted with a number of cards.

RE: About Microfusion - cfbsoftware - 02-06-2024

A guy named "Ian Gribble" might be able to provide more information about these systems. On his CV he writes:

MicroFusion Library Systems - 1979 to 1991- Systems Design, development

I formed a partnership with a mathematics professor and an expert PICK programmer to develop a full delivery library system suitable for schools and local councils. The MicroFusion Library System subsequently gained preferred software status in State Education Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales; selling 45 systems at a sale price range of $25,000 to $120,000 per system. It also sold to seven local council libraries. This business was merged into MFS.


His email address is on the webpage.

RE: About Microfusion - ChickenMan - 02-06-2024

Fantastic, thanks Chris, I have emailed him asking for more information. Thanks.

RE: About Microfusion - ChickenMan - 03-06-2024

I got an answer back from Ian Gribble -

I was part of the original Microfusion development team and the library system was originally developed in PICK under an Australian maths professor; programmed by John Smith and myself.
It was primarily developed on the BBC micro; however we had some customers who already had Microbee hardware, so we adapted the system to support the hardware. The Microfusion Library was very powerful as we adapted some of the PICK phonemes to be able to better handle indefinite speech patterns to allow better, easier searching by voice. The system was aimed primarily at school and local councils and was successful; however, the DYNIX Library System (also PICK based) was backed by the SA govt at the time and eventually took this market.

We used the BBC Microcomputer or the TORCH (twin 6502 processor version of the BBC) as a server primarily, and the Microbee where required.
I have included an old (1990)paper by Laurel A. Clyde for interest - heavy reading but mention Microfusion on Page 6 and give a general history of basin information development in relation to libraries.