Laptoppin’ Like 1975

When we first saw the PZ1 laptop — a 6502 laptop-style computer with a small display and 512K of RAM — we couldn’t help but think of the old AIM 65 computer from Rockwell, although that only had 1K of memory. The other thing the AIM didn’t have was an ancillary microcontroller to help out that is way more powerful than the main processor.

There are actually several versions of the PZ1 and you can find some very detailed information over on and GitHub. Recently, [Adam] release version 2.0 and tested some PC boards that are working well.

Of course, you need software. [Adam] has ported Fuzix over which is nice. We wonder what the Rockwell designer would have thought of such an extravagance of memory, an SD Card, and a larger display. They’d probably complain there was no thermal printer.

A lot of the supporting functions use a  Teensy and an Arduino Nano. There is also a Raspberry Pi Pico in the mix. That offers a lot of possibilities for future upgrades for displays. Maybe an ESP32 could even put it on WiFi.

For us, when we want to play with 6502 code, we grab a Kim-UNO, even though it is emulated. We’ve seen a lot of 6502 activity lately. Not bad for a CPU approaching 50 years of age.

22 thoughts on “Laptoppin’ Like 1975

  1. No laptops in 1975. The Aim wasn’t one, and it came in 1978. Yes, quite a bit built in, but no laptop, and pretty crude compared to what’s available now.

    As I mentioned recently, there was a 6502 based pocket computer about 1972, The Panasonic/Quasar HHC.

    1. The 6502 processor was introduced in 1975, so I’m quite certain it wasn’t in any computer in 1972 portable or otherwise. The HHC was announced in 1979, the year I graduated from high school.

    2. The concept was well known in the right circles though Kays full concept falls somewhere between modern laptops and tables and the “Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” of Diamond Age fame.

      The movers, shakers and doers of the era were just too darn busy making computer power “personal” as in affordable desktop use, rather than “personal” as in highly portable at the time.

      I think Felsenstein also had back burner iterations of the format that he was showing around, but he got busy first with video terminals then with Sol and derivatives.

      1. But they couldn’t make a laptop in 1972. So wasn’t the Xerox Alto an impleementation, except not a laptop?

        I don’t remember Lee Felsenstein talking abkut a laptop early. He’s been working in so.ething for Africa in recent times.

        And he designed the Sol-20, which in 1976 was almost a laptop, everything needed except a monitor.

    3. Well, of course the AIM wasn’t a laptop and this hardly qualifies either, but it still reminds me of the AIM. Especially the first gen ones that were pretty much a bare PCB. The HHC did use a 6502 but wasn’t introduced until 1981 and probably wasn’t actually in any real person’s hands until ’82.

      1. I have a couple AIM’s (and a Rockwell Design Center), the Tandy 102 (which until very recently was in use due to its great serial debuging, which has been sidelined mostly by USB and WiFI/Bt) and a Quasar briefcase combo.

        The AIM was 1K RAM and some nice ROMs with good monitor and assembler, BASIC, Forth, and PL/65. IIRC it was 4K when fully populated and expansion cards could give 24 or 28K. I used one for piles of instrumentation interfacing development. The Forth Manual had a floppy interface in 1K of Forth code (1 ‘screen’). You could put it in a PROM along with quite a bit of other code. The AIM-65 was so convenient that I splurged and a Heath terminal, H89? Something like that. The only downside I recall was it came with current loop and I had to fudge an RS232-like from the logic lines. Of course, the built in thermal printer was brilliant.

        I have had automated searches for an AIM-65/40 since such things were possible and never found one for sale.

        The Questar system also had a Forth ROM. Here is some AIM stuff.

  2. Reminds me of the Radio Shack Model 100. ISTR it was very popular with journalists who needed a way to write their pieces while on the road, then upload them to their publication from “any random phone” — it included an internal modem.

    1. yes but very good keyboard
      meybe if autor use mechanic keyboard and better (still black – white) screen good for sunlight (PixelQ?)
      I no need more than 80×40 chars in chinese ;)

  3. ok fuzix (not fusix ;-) ) is ok,
    but still not looking as ELLO 2 in wood ;) and important question
    HOW LONG this device work on one charge? a month? I can use small procesor but i need profit.
    Power will be great idea. a month working time, for example 24h per day making text in vim meybe sometimes using bash

  4. In 2100, an already senile A.I. Will.iams holographic avatar, buried in some deep earth datacenter will continue automatically writing HaD articles like “Flying car like in the 2000s”.

    Except there will be no readers left, the only remnants of humanity will be a blind detritivore, radiation-hardened post-human engineered as last effort to survive the climate change of the Anthropocene.

    1. Nah, that was last epoch. We’re all the post-holocaust virtual avatars of our former selves, encapsulated in this virtual reality in some kind of meaningless gesture.

      I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.

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