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Informer 213

Informer 213
This little nice thing was found in the big barn. It is a small, portable IBM 3178 compatible terminal with a 512 x 256 EL display and a detachable keyboard. It has an integrated MODEM, serial port and a serial printer port.

From the markings on the chips inside we conclude it is manufactured around 1986. 

The first power-up was not very successful. Just after a few seconds there were a big smoke cloud coming out right at the power inlet. When investigating this further I recognized that the EMI-filter on the inlet had their capacitors to pass away leaving a fair amount of tar inside the unit. Luckily, still after 30 years it is possible to purchase exactly the same input filter so after a few days we could power up this for real.

This was now it was recognized that this terminal was not at all like the one described in the manual. Instead this was an IBM terminal of some sort. Hence the name of the firmware, 374/SNA. 

Google helped us to understand more by giving this old 1989 ad form the Informer 213.

Informer 213 Ad

According to the ad is is a an IBM 3178 compatible terminal emulating the 3274 control unit. Exactly what this is about remains to be investigated. However it seems to be quite clear that unless we are able to find a new firmware (which hopefully is the only thing that is needed) we have very little use for this since we have no compatible IBM equipment.

The inside is a little bit interesting. The main logic is located in the display unit. The base unit has the power supply and the interface board. It also in the base unit where the smoking EMI filter unit was located.

The logic module itself had a 68B09 CPU, 64 kbyte of DRAM, a 27256 EPROM and some static RAM (presumably battery backed by a 3V Lithium cell). Then there was a NEC manufactured ASIC marked Informer, which seems to be the CRTC controller. Close to the other end is two more SRAMs and a 2764 EPROM which probably is the character generator ROM.

Logic board

There is also a Zilog SCC to do all sorts of serial communication.

Rockwell modem
On the euro connector is a piggybacked modem board located. Exactly which kind of protocols this module handles is not completely clear. The manual indicates V.32 but since that is mostly for async lines, a guess it that this is a some kind of synchronous modem. The three Rockwell chips are labeled R5325-12, R5310-20 and 10464-12.
EL driver back

The display unit is a electro luminescent display made by Finnish Lohja Corp / (Finlux brand). It has 512 x 256 pixels resolution. To the right is a the drive electronics for the display unit.

Does anyone have more information on the Informer 213 AE? How does it attaches to an IBM system? Does anyone have firmware images that would make this a VT100 terminal?

If this is not the case I put this little thing up for trade for something interesting.