A very old post that I bet you thought was long forgotten!
Thanks for bringing a smile
I was one of the original developers of this unit. The Byte Drive 500 was conceived by myself and Peter Halford and we formed Tyrell Computers in 1983 to develop it.
The idea was to use a standard disk drive and build the entire interface into the cable to the computer. Each computer model simply had a different cable with the neccessary circuitry and a ROM with the DOS on it.
The directory table then had a set of flags which allowed each file to be seen, or not, on each type of computer.
At the time, software developers were writing for all the various micros and the retailers had to gamble on which versions to stock. Our idea was that they would only need to stock one version, the BD500 formatted version, which could then be loaded on anything from an Oric to a Spectrum, to a BBC to an Apple ][ and so on. Each micro only seeing the relevant executable and any data files could be shared.
Neat idea (imagine now being able to release a games disk that would run on a PS3, x-Box or Wii??) but sadly as I recall, the beancounters screwed up and ordered too many drives before the system was fully developed and it all went down the tubes.
I found your post because I was searching for Peter (I went to school with him, but the last I heard from him was in the mid-80's!) and Google is being surprisingly unhelpful. Anyway, I followed a few links and ended up here - a real trip down memory lane for me
The drive itself used a standard 5 1/4 inch interface and molex power supply. I think Amstrad used the same drives at one point. The clever bit was the cable ;D