The Multitech MPF-1 Micro-Professor - AN EYE TO THE FUTURE

The MPF-1, or "Micro-Professor" was introduced in 1981 for educational purposes by MultiTech Industrial Corp. This later became Acer. The current owner is Flite Electronics International, which moved to more modern educational tools. They contacted me and gracefully allowed making the materials available here, so I have no problem with replicating their statement here:
"Published by the kind permission of the intellectual property right owners Flite Electronics International".

There are several computers having "MPF-1" in the name:

MPF-1 (later called MPF-1A)
The original Z-80 machine with a 2 kByte monitor ROM and a six digit 7-segment display. There are sockets for more ROM/RAM, Z80-PIO and Z80-CTC chips. The original board allowed for 2 * 4 Kbyte ROMs.
MPF-1B
Identical to the MPF-1A, but with the Tiny-Basic included. The original 2k Byte ROM was replaced by a 4k Byte ROM, which contained both the monitor and Basic. A later version of the board had room for 2 * 8 Kbyte ROMs (larger 28 pin sockets).
MPF-1P
A reissue of the 1B, but with a better keyboard and a 20 character 14-segment display. The PIO and CTC sockets are gone as more PCB space is needed for keyboard and display comntrol.
MPF-1/65
A 6502 computer using an external video. More related to the MPF-II than the other 1s.
MPF-1/88
A 8088 computer using a 2 lines by 20 character LCD display. This one had a real case and a real size keyboard.
From the box

MPF-1
 box, showing the MPF-1 in a posh, pseudo study setting showing old-style shaded 
 lamp, glass of cognac, roses, technical books, I.C.s, pens

The MPF-1 in its package. It was intended to provide a cheap and compact way of learning Z80 assembly language. Several extensions were available, like more RAM, Tiny Basic (any small computer should have a Basic), extra I.C.s for interfacing. An Experiment Manual was available as was the listing of the Monitor program for advanced study.

Multitech also provided extra boards which fitted nicely in the left side of the box, being connected with the 40-pin header at the top left of the main board, this being essentially the Z80 processor pinout, minus the +5V, as each board came with its own mains adapter. Most boards were half the height of the MPF-1, so in theory two board could be placed in the box. Most boards had an extra header, allowing daisy chaining. From the box:

Here in one attractive package is a Z80* based microcomputer to lead you step by step to a thourough knowledge of the world of microprocessors.
The Micro-Professor is a complete hardware and software system whose extensive teaching manual gives you detailed schematics and examples of program code. A superb learning tool for students, hobbyists
and microprocessor enthusiasts, as well as an excellent teaching aid for instructors of electrical engineering and computer science courses.
But the Micro-Professor is much more than a teaching device. With it you can do bread-boarding and prototyping, design your own custom hardware and software applications with Z80, 8080 and 8085 compatible code.
The standard 2K bytes of RAM is expandable to 4K, and the standard 2K bytes of ROM can be increased to 8K.
All this plus a build-in speaker, a cassette interface, and sockets to accept optional CTC/PIO. Bus is extendable.
As wel as being an exciting learning tool , the Micro-Professor is a great low-cost board for OEM's.
Z80 is a trademark of Zilog Inc.

ACC_MPF MPF-1 smallest extension set: experiment board, flatcable
  Z80-PIO, Z80-CTC, 2 Kbyte RAM, 4 kByte EPROM), solderless breadboard

This was the smallest expansion set, consisting of an empty experiment board, a flatcable to connect it to the MPF-1, the Z80-PIO and Z80-CTC and two chips for the U7 socket; a 2 kByte RAM and a 4 kByte EPROM (blank). You needed the EPB-MPF to program the latter.

The JUMPER1 on the MPF-1(B) could be configured for either EPROM or RAM. The default is for a 2516, 2716 or 2532 EPROM. Changes are required for a 2732 EPROM of 6116 RAM. See Page 35 of the manual.

Printer PRT-MPF Microprofessor MPF-1B printer
printer output disassembly lines
The printer is a Daini Seikosha MTP201A thermal printer, capable of 20 characters per line or 138 dots. The driver uses characters of 5x7 dots. Paper width is 58 mm, of which 46 mm is used for printing.
There were al least two ROM versions of the printer, one for the MPF-IB and one for the MPF-IP.
The MPF-IB ROM contains:
  • a printer driver utility (65ACh),
  • a Z80-disassembler listing utility (6000h), (see listing)
  • a Memory dump utility (6300h),
  • a BASIC program listing utility (6400h) and
  • a Printer line feed (6500h).

The MPF-IP ROM contains four routines:
  • SHIFT (6A00) Drive the thermal head shift right
  • PLINEFD (6A10) Line Feed
  • PLINE (6A30) Drive the paper vertically by two lines
  • MTPPRT (6A40) Print out the contents of line buffer
Speech Module SSB-MPF Microprofessor MPF-1B speech processor The speech synthesis module is based on the Texas Instruments TMS5200NL chip. The ROM contains both routines and a speech vocabulary. Two ROM sockets are reserved for an extended vocabulary (U3 and U4, TMS2532) and one socket for the "advanced Voice Synthesys Memory (VSM), (U7, TMS6125). The extended vocabulary ROMS contain data the processor has to feed to the TMS5220, the VSM is connected directly to the TMS5220.
Texas Instruments used related chips in the "Speech & Spell" modules for children.
These are the words provided in the standard ROM, just enough for the talking clock demo: ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, TEN, ELEVEN, TWELVE, THIRTEEN, FOURTEEN, FIFTEEN, SIXTEEN, SEVENTEEN, EIGHTEEN, NINETEEN, TWENTY, THIRTY, FORTY, FIFTY, IT, IS, AM, PM, OCLOCK, OH, GOOD, MORNING, AFTERNOON
Programmer EPB-MPF (and EPB-MPF-1BP) Eprom programmer board

Note there are two EPROM programming boards, one for the 1B and one for the 1B and 1P.

The EPB-MPF-1BP User's Manual lists these EPROMS the board and firmware is cabable of programming:

1K x 82K x 84K x 88K x 8
TMS2708,TMS2516,TMS27322564
I2758,I2716I27322764

There are three sockets for 2K x 8 bytes RAM, so programming the 8 K byte EPROMs, had to be done in two parts.

The two boards differ on the memory and I/O-port range.

The EPB-MPF EPROM Programmer Board Operating Manual says:
ROM: 9000h-97FFh, RAM: 8000h-8FFFh, 8255 I/O: CCh-CFh

The EPB-MPF-1BP User's Manual mentions:
ROM: 9000h-9FFFh, RAM: D800h - EFFFh, 8255 I/O: 70h-7Fh.

The EPB-MPF-1BP might not work with an unmodified 1(B) as long as the CTC is present.

Experiment board IOM-MPF-P Double size MPF-IOM board

It is actually an extension for the MPF-IP, as it duplicates the PIO and CTC present on the MPF-I(B). The 8251 USART is isn't present on the MPF-I(B). This board will not work on an unmodified MPF-1(B) as all I/O-ports below C0h are occupied. A fix for this.

These are the IOM-PRT-P ports:

URTDA:		EQU	60h	;IOM 8251 Data Port
URTCNT:		EQU	61h	;IOM 8251 Control Port

CTC0:		EQU	64h	;IOM CTC Channel 0
CTC1:		EQU	65h	;IOM CTC Channel 1
CTC2:		EQU	66h	;IOM CTC Channel 2
CTC3:		EQU	67h	;IOM CTC Channel 3

PIODA:		EQU	68h	;IOM PIO Port A Data
PIOCA:		EQU	6Ah	;IOM PIO Port A Control
PIODB:		EQU	69h	;IOM PIO Port B Data
PIOCB:		EQU	6Bh	;IOM PIO Port B Control

DIPSW:		EQU	6Ch	;IOM Dip SW

Third-party board: Video-MPF-1 from Bardehle Microprofessor MPF-1B video card
character set of the VID-MPF-1B
There are at least two versions of this board; the original with the EPROM at 0800h-0FFFh and RAM at 3000h-37FFh, and a newer version with EPROM at A000h-A7FFh and RAM at 4000h-47FFh. For the original version the monitor ROM on the MPF-1 was exchanged by a combined monitor (0000-07FFh) / VIDMON ROM (0800-0FFFh). But the later MPF-1B had a monitor / Tiny-Basic ROM. So the VIDMON ROM was relocated to A000h-A7FFh.

Useful routines for version 2.0:

  • A001h - ?
  • A004h - init 6845, clear screen, return from call
  • A007h - init 6845, clear screen, jump to 0000h
  • A00Ah - (JCRTCO) print character in C, interpret control codes
  • A00Dh - (JCRTOU) print character in C, print codes 00h-31h too
  • A010h - (JTEXCO) print 00h terminated string (start in IY)
  • A013h - (JTEX??) print 00h terminated string (start in IY) CR = LF
  • A016h - writes character set to screen
  • A019h - configure 6845 with register/data table in HL (FFh terminated)

The character set image is the result of the key sequence: [ADDR], A, 0, 0, 7, [GO], [ADDR], A, 0, 1, 6, [GO].

The 2.0 ROM has a deliberate routine to replace every printed [`afg by afhi^. Why is a mystery to me.

The manual for version 1.0 is at the Virtual library. A modified ROM is also available here fixing the character mangling.

Other planned extensions (MPF-1P): Back of the printerbox, listing other extension options. At the back of the printer box I found a list of all other planned/available extensions for the MPF-I Plus, which could or could not work with the I-A and I-B. The IOM-MPF-IP board device ports conflict with an unmodified I-A or I-B.
  • SGB-MPF-IP - (Sound Generator Board)
    • Manual play: One easy-to-play programmable electronic organ. Twenty-one-keys covering a range of three octaves, enabling you to play any tune.
    • Useful functions include Auto replay, Auto rhythm, Sound synthesizer, Melody and sound demonstration.
    • Use high reliability GENERAL INSTRUMENTS programmable sound generator chip.
    • 4kB EPROM for storing sound generation programs and sound data.
    • Share the Z80 CPU as host controller and 4k RAM of MPF-IP as memory for sound data.
    • Build-in amplifier circuit and high quality speaker is provided.
  • IOM-MPF-IP: (I/O and Memory Board).
    • Compact and low cost I/O and memory board.
    • Z80-CTC (counter and timer) and Z80-PIO (parallel I/O) and PPI 8251 (USART) are provided.
    • Memory Expansion area: 6k Static RAM and 4k ROM.
  • UWB-MPF-IP: Universal Wire-Wrapping Board
  • BBD-MPF-IP: 1.42" x 3.15" Bread Board.
Even more from Sciento Black and white image of a MPF-1P, Fischertechnik interface 
 and a construction with Fischertechnik modules
Black and white image of the Sciento HWEX-OC populated with MPF-1P and 
 extensions. The HWEX2 is the middle upper position.

Sciento was the importer of the MicroProfessor in the Netherlands (and Belgium?). They sold teaching materials to technical schools and technical high-schools. They also sold other third-party extensions like the interface for Fischertechnik motor modules and a so called Logic Analyzer (HWEX2), which made some internal CPU data visible. A kind of Blinkenlights for the MPF-1-line! The HWEX2 did this by monitoring the Z80-CPU bus.

There was also an "Microelectronics appications board" with inputs: 8 digital switch inputs, temperature sensor, optical encoder, light sensor, potentiometer and external analog input. Outputs: DC motor, 8 LEDs, heater, bargraph, analog output. An 'logic probe' was also included.

Another extension was a base (HWEX-OC) with wiring and power supply with room for a MPF-1B or Plus and four half height extensions.

The Fischertechnik interfaces (one for the MPF-1B and one for the MPF-1P) were 8255 based, could control four (stepper?) motors, have eight digital input lines and two analog inputs.

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Last update: 2020-12-15