Hercules to VGA

Last Updated or created 2022-11-16

While playing with MuseScore….
(Typesetting some scores for Pipes and Flute)

This came in: WOOOT

Trident 8900C (1024 x768 max 512Kb)

This is a Trident VGA card. While having a 16bit ISA connector, it can work in a 8bits ISA slot.

A while ago i bought a Laser XT/3, that’s the one my parents had.
This is where i did a lot of assembly programming on.
It’s a 8086 cpu, 640K and has a Hercules/CGA graphics card.

I found loads of assembly files and i want to see if i can get it running again.
While some code was written for hercules, ( That’s the monochrome image you see in the example above ) and a few for EGA (4 colors).

Most of it was written for VGA. Probably on a later machine like a 80386?

But i know there are vga cards for 8 bit msdos computers, and i found one. ( This one is even autodetect, so no jumpers to figure out)

So i’ve put this card in the machine, turned it on, and it works!
I’ve got only 2 examples living on the harddisk of the machine, both black and white … 🙂
I have to search for interesting code in hundreds of files.

Some friends of mine, picture was taken from an amiga genlock digitizer
The intro pages of a “amiga emulator” WHERE is the rest??? (end is a cga starfield demo)

Hercules Card

There is not much info available about this card:

  • Max resolution (Hercules) : 720×348
  • 15 pin analog monitor port (CN1)
  • BIOS enabled JP1 Pins 1 & 2 closed
  • BIOS disabled JP1 Pins 2 & 3 closed
  • CGA selected SW1 On
  • MDA (Hercules) selected SW1 Off

Floppy drive boot

My friend EDK and I made some demo’s like

And a boot demo, which was able to start from a bootsector, went into a graphic mode and ran a demo with sound. Edk wrote a sector loader for this.
I have some 5.25 inch floppy disks, labelled boot demo. So i wanted to try this today …
I needed to change the boot order, so i went online to search for jumper settings.

I see a led when it tries to boot, but my disks are probably formatted 720Kb instead of 360Kb, which this drive is.

So …. TODO!

Find a 720Kb floppy drive (5.25 inch), and sort through my code!
There is a 8bit soundblaster compatible soundcard that i bidding on online, hopefully i’ll get it

Assembly and modes

I wasn’t sure how to sort the assembly code into Hercules and VGA compatible, but i used this table (There are also extended modes for higher resolutions)

mode 0x00text 40×25 gray
mode 0x01text 40×25 16 colors
mode 0x02text 80×25
mode 0x03text 80×25 16 color
mode 0x04graphics mode (CGA) 320×200
mode 0x05graphics mode (CGA) 320×200
mode 0x06graphics mode (CGA) 640×200 (B/W)
mode 0x07text 80×25 Hercules
mode 0x0Fgraphics mode 640×350? gray
mode 0x10graphics mode 640×350?
mode 0x11graphics vga 2 colors
mode 0x12graphics vga 16 colors
mode 0x13graphics 320×200 256 colors
# Set VGA mode
    mov ax,13h
    int 10h         ;screen 320x200 256 colours

# Exit VGA mode
    mov ax,3
    int 10h         ;screen  80x25 text
    mov ax,4c00h
    int 21h         ;back to DOS