FBE Research Company, Inc.

Location: Seattle, WA

Products: Spooldisk 89, H89RAM 16K Memory Expansion, Parallel Printer Interfaces.

Current Status: Company was dissolved. Look at ztac.net for more information on FBE Research Company


Owner: Dave Brockman

Dave passed away from cancer on  February 27, 2012.

Information from ztac.net

FBE Research Company was officially founded July 21, 1975 as a sole proprietorship. The letters F B E have no particular meaning. The first sale, Invoice #118, occurred on December 1, 1975. The "I" became the corporate "we" on July 19, 1977.

In the beginning, FBE developed and sold software development programs for the DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) PDP-8 series minicomputer which allowed programs for the Intel 8080 microprocessor to be developed and tested on the PDP-8.

In 1980, FBE became involved with the H-89 all-in-one microcomputer manufactured by the Heath Company and sold in kit form. Zenith Data Systems, Heath's owner, sold the same computer (assembled) as the the Z-89. FBE developed a series of products for the H/Z-89 and for several subsequent computers produced by Heath and Zenith.

FBE ceased Heath/Zenith activity in 1995 after the untimely death of Henry Fale, the owner of Quikdata, Inc. In business since 1976, Quikdata was our only remaining commercial customer. Henry was the mainstay of support for the thousands of computer owners left stranded as Heath/Zenith rushed into the future. Henry also published the H-SCOOP newsletter, an invaluable resource to the Heath/Zenith user's community.

Our last sale, Invoice #8839, occurred on 8/15/95 to Quikdata. The merchandise was later returned.

On December 18, 1998, ownership of FBE Research Company, Inc., was donated to the Brockman/Smedley Charitable Remainder Unitrust. Early in 1999, the corporation was dissolved and the proceeds were invested by the trustee, the Washington State University Foundation. Upon the death of the surviving donor, the balance of the trust will go to the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU.

The Heath/Zenith Era

Starting in about 1980, FBE's principal businessbecame manufacturing enhancements and modifications for Heath/Zenith computers.

Cast your memory back to those early days of computing, when the machines were simple and crude and lacked almost every refinement we take for granted today. The H-89 came with only 16k of RAM! You could plug in 32k more but to max out at 64k but you had to have a modification and a card. In the beginning there were only serial interfaced printers. When "cheap" parallel-interface dot matrix printers came along you had no way to hook them up. Computers didn't even have built-in calendar/clocks! Later, there were funny little computers that came and went so fast that, by the time you realized what extras you needed, they weren't available anymore. All product opportunities for FBE.

FBE produced and sold a surprising number products. Many of them included a printed circuit card. Others were simply a programmable array logic (PAL) chip programmed in a certain way.

FBE Products List

This list is roughly in reverse order by date, most recent items first. The date in the brackets is when the product's printed circuit card was designed.

For the Zenith EaZy PC computer

  1. EZM-128 Memory Expansion Module [4/90]
    Mounts on the rear of computer; Expands built-in memory to 640k.
  2. EZCOM1 Serial Port Module [10/90]
    Mounts on the rear of computer. Adds a COM1 serial port.
  3. EZCOMBO Memory Expansion/Serial Port Combo
    Items 1 and 2 piggybacked together to form one module.
  4. EZCLOCK Calendar/Clock Module [6/90]
    Piggybacks on any of the above items.

For the Heath or Zenith Model 151 or 161 computers

  1. VCE-150 Video Card Eliminator [8/88]
    Allows removal of video card so that new video card may be installed.
  2. COM3 Serial Port Modification
    Remaps COM2 to COM3; Add Modem at COM2 and still have two ports.
  3. ZP640+ Memory Decoder PAL (640k/704k) et. al.
    Expand RAM on existing card with 256k RAM chips.
  4. MegaRAM-150 640k/704k & 512k RAM Disk et. al.
    Fill RAM card with 256k chips; Get 512k RAM disk + 640k/704k RAM.
  5. LIM150 Memory Modification Package
    Fill RAM card with 256k chips; Get 512k emulated EMS memory.

For the Heath or Zenith Model 148 computer

  1. ZEX148 Daughterboard [4/88]
    Adds 1 full size and 1 half size PC-style expansion slots to main board.
  2. ZP148 Memory Decoder PAL for 704k memory
    Reconfigures main memory to 704k.
  3. ZC148 Calendar/Clock Card [3/86]
    Installs piggyback on the daughterboard expansion connector.

For the Zenith Z-171 (Morrow Pivot) portable computer

  1. MegaRAM-171 Memory Expansion Modification [4/87]
    Fill memory card with 256k RAM chips; Get 640k + 384k RAM disk.

For the Heath or Zenith Model 100 Series computers

  1. ZCLK No-slot Calendar/Clock Module [?/84]
    Replaces existing chip so uses no expansion card slot.
  2. ZMF100 768k Memory Expansion Modification [?/85]
    Alters motherboard to accept 256k RAM chips for 768k total RAM.
  3. ZMF100A 768k Memory Expansion Modification [4/86]
    Improved ZMF100. Easier to install. No soldering required.
  4. ZRAM-205 Z-205 Memory Card Modification [5/86]
    Put 1 Mb on Z-205 RAM card; Use excess 768k as RAM disk.

For the Heath H-89 or Zenith Z-89 computer

  1. SPOOLDISK-89 128k RAM Disk and Print Spooler Card [5/83]
    Microprocessor-based card includes spooled printer interface.
  2. H89UTI Utility Card [1/82]
    Calendar/Clock; 2 Serial Ports; 1 Parallel Port; Math coprocessor socket.
  3. H89RAM 16k Memory Expansion [?/81]
    Piggybacks over existing last bank of memory to bring total up to 64k.
  4. H89PIP Parallel Interface Port Card [11/83]
    Simple, 2 port card. Printer driver software included for CP/M and HDOS.
  5. CABLE Printer Cable
    A ribbon cable with Centronics-style connector. Use with 18, 19, and 21.
  6. SLOT4 Right Side Bus Extender Card [3/84]
    Adds one extra slot to right side bus. Install another card in "full" machine.
  7. H89CTI Parallel Printer Interface Card [?/80]
    Very simple interface card with integral cable. Replaced by item 21.
  8. EPLOT Graphing Software for Epson Graftrax Printers
    CP/M and HDOS programs to make "strip chart" plots.
  9. HDOS Screen Dump Drivers Software
    Prints the screen on Epson Graftrax printer when invoked.

For the Heath H-8 computer

  1. H8CTI Printer Interface Card [?/82]
    Simple printer interface with integral cable. With software. Never sold.

FBE Product Sales Table

Quantity Product
5226 ZMF100 and ZMF100A
4673 ZP640+ PAL Chip Family
2360 SmartWatch Family
2359 ZCLK Package
2035 ZEX-148 Board
1035 MegaRAM/LIM-150 Family
861 VCE-150
585 EZM-128 Module
376 H89PIP Card
377 EZCOM1 Module

Last Modified: Sunday, 25-Feb-2024 22:30:42 PST

Contact Details

Mark Garlanger

Email: heathkit [at] garlanger [dot] com

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Website: www.garlanger.com



This site is dedicated to preserving the history of the original Heathkit computers. They were initially release in 1977 and included the 8-bit H-8 and 16-bit H-11 systems. The H89 was released in 1979.