Gnat Computers (San Diego, Calif.)

Gnat merged with Data Technology Industries in 1983. The floppy-drive version of the Gnat Pac was called the Extended System 8. The System 8 was followed by the System 9, which ran CP/M. The System 10 information below is from a brochure generously donated by a former Gnat employee.

Former employee Robert Carter, Jr., adds this:

“March 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm: We were CP/M from the beginning with the System 8, System 9 and System 10. Our license for CP/M was #10. 

I’m just glad to see some reference to GNAT, somewhere. I remember meeting Jobs in Seattle at a convention, when he was displaying his early computer and we were displaying the System 8 and System 9, which were in the process of doing process control in the U&I Sugar plant in Moses Lake, WA. I didn’t really expect a reply, and, certainly, not this quickly.

For your amusement, the first GNAT was for the military, called the General Numeric Analysis Trainer. It was a 1-off, using (if I remember correctly) an 8000 chip.

Shortly after we introduced the System 10, a neighboring company introduced their fold-up portable computer. We grabbed one and had a look inside. The video board had the “GNAT” on the circuit board, but it was mirror image. When I brought this to that company’s attention, their response was, ‘Sue us.'”

Gary Oliver adds this:

“February 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm: I was also involved in that U&I project, though as a software developer. Spent many hours working with GNAT computers – still have the last System 10 (still works!) we used safely stored in my ‘museum’ (garage). They were truly remarkable machines for the time.”

Reader Jaye adds this:

“December 5, 2013 at 11:30 pm: At a trade show in 1980 or 1981 I recall seeing a GNAT which at that time had core memory woven onto the PCB in the upper left and that was the boot PROM. Early UV-erase Proms were still considered unreliable where core had a proven record. I was employed at Sperry MCO in Irvine CA. at the time and thought the small size of the board was amazing and would soon change the Computer industry.”
Gnat cofounder Tom Lafluer adds this:
“January 4, 2014 at 8:16 pm: I was the first designer and co-founder of this firm. Our first products were Intel 8008 boards (CPU, Ram, Prom, I/O) that were on special board used by US Navel Labs for projects. At that time we were one of the largest user of 8008. Our Intel contact, Dane Elliot gave us a very early engineer sample (I still have it) of the 8080 with a multi page errata sheet. This was the start of the 8080 cards we designed. Early system used Intel 2102 static ram (1kx1) and 1702 e-proms (256 bytes x 8), and we moved up the memory tree from there.

Gnat also had the first commercial license for CP/M, we had serial number 4. I spent three days at Gary Kildall’s house (his work shed in the back yard) in Pacific Grove working with him to do the port of our hardware to his software. We then shared a booth with him and Gordon Eubanks at the First West Coast Computer Fair in 1977.

I also visited two high school kids in Albuquerque New Mexico, working with them and the DEC 10 computer that has access, too, we did a port of their 4K Basic interpreter to the Gnat 8080 system. I left there with a roll of punched paper tape. They later moved to start a company in Bellevue, WA.

The General Numeric Analysis Trainer was developed about the same time as the 8080 system, and was sold to a number of school and training facility’s to teach people about computers. It was a RISC-base system with about 30 commands. It was built with an early, and what we now call an PGA (Program Gate Array). It had a lots of switches and LEDs.

Gnat also built for Lowell North at North Sails, there first sail cutting machine. It was 4 ft wide and 16 ft long using our 8080 boards. The windmills use by Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant in a number of location were controlled by Gnat 8080 systems.”

 

Gnat Computers Gnat-Pac System 8 (1977, early micro)
Original Retail Price: $3,690
Base Configuration: 16K RAM, 2K ROM (16K max), front panel switches, serial and parallel ports
Important Options: dual 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, PL/M, BASIC, FORTRAN

Gnat System 10

Gnat Computers Gnat-Pac System 10 (1979?, micro)
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80 CPU, 65K RAM, 2K ROM, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, 2 serial and 1 parallel ports, integrated 12-inch monochrome monitor, integrated keyboard, CP/M 2.0
Video: 25 lines x 80 columns
Size and Weight: 21 x 21 x 13 inches, 42 lbs.
Important Options: AM9511 FPU, PL/1, BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, Pascal, C, IEEE 488 interface, real-time clock

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2 comments

  1. Bob Bell · · Reply

    Memories. I started ASI, a contract manufacturing shop in 1979, a few buildings from Gnat. Bob Carter walked in one day and they became one of my early customers. We assembled their PC boards. Great people, great machines, far better than the original IBM PCs that came later.

  2. Lisa Becker · · Reply

    I still have my Gnat System Serial No 0101.
    I bought the PC in 1979 through a dealer in London. Now in Germany. Top technology back then!

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