Calling any one computer the first hobby computer is fraught with peril. Most people think the MITS Altair 8800, first featured in Popular Electronics back in January 1975, was the first. Some might argue that others were first, but there is no doubt that the Altair started the hobby computer revolution from a practical standpoint. However, there was another computer that almost took the crown. It, too, appeared in a magazine — Radio and Electronics. But it was in the July 1974 issue. That computer was the Mark 8, and [Artem Kalinchuk] is building a replica that you can see started in the video below. This isn’t some Arduino work-alike. He has a pile of parts and some almost authentic-looking PCBs.
The Mark 8 used the 8008, not the 8080, so it was less powerful. [Artem] has been building a replica Altair, too. Check out his YouTube channel if you are interested in those.
Continue reading “Forget The Altair! Remember The Mark-8!”
The last time we covered [Dr. Scott M. Baker], he made his Heathkit H8 run on a considerably older processor than it was made for. This time, apparently still not satisfied with the number of 8008 computers, he made an Intel 8008-based single-board computer.
The Mini-08, as [Scott] calls it, is based on his previous endeavour of downgrading the Heathkit H8. Its “CPU board” has even more memory than its predecessor at 128KiB RAM and ROM and an 8251 UART connected to a DB25 serial port. The entirely optional “display board” adds to that 10 digits of 7-segment displays, a backlit Cherry MX Blue hexadecimal keypad, a real-time clock and even a 4-voice sound generator!
[Scott] has also done an impressive job with the software, porting BASIC, FORTH, a clone of Star Trek and some utilities to his Mini-08. He demonstrates both BASIC and FORTH by printing “SCOTT WAS HERE” in a for loop and finishes off by showing how to use some of the display board with FORTH.
Like last time, he published design files and resources for you to enjoy. Overall, an interesting spin on the retro single-board computer concept.
Video after the break.
Continue reading “An Intel 8008 On A Single-Board Computer”
[Ken Shirriff] is no stranger to Hackaday. His latest blog post is just the kind of thing we expect from him: a tear down of the venerable 8008 CPU. We suspect [Ken’s] earlier post on early CPUs pointed out the lack of a good 8008 die photo. Of course, he wasn’t satisfied to just snap the picture. He also does an analysis of the different constructs on the die.
Ever wonder why the 8008 ALU is laid out in a triangle shape? In all fairness, you probably haven’t, but you might after you look at the photomicrograph of the die. [Ken] explains why.
Continue reading “8008 Exposed”
In the mid-1970’s there were several U.S.-based hobby electronics magazines, including Popular Electronics and Radio Electronics. Most people know that in 1975, Popular Electronics ran articles about the Altair 8800 and launched the personal computer industry. But they weren’t the first. That honor goes to Radio Electronics, that ran articles about the Mark 8 — based on the Intel 8008 — in 1974. There are a few reasons, the Altair did better in the marketplace. The Mark 8 wasn’t actually a kit. You could buy the PC boards, but you had to get the rest of the parts yourself. You also had to buy the plans. There wasn’t enough information in the articles to duplicate the build and — according to people who tried, maybe not enough information even in the plans.
[Henk Verbeek] wanted his own Mark 8 so he set about building one. Of course, coming up with an 8008 and some of the other chips these days is quite a challenge (and not cheap). He developed his own PCBs (and has some extra if anyone is looking to duplicate his accomplishment). There’s also a video, you can watch below.
Continue reading “Mark 8 2016 Style”
If you maintain an interest in vintage computers, you may well know something of the early history of the microprocessor, how Intel’s 4-bit 4004, intended for a desktop calculator, was the first to be developed, and the follow-up 8008 was the first 8-bit device. We tend to like simple stories when it comes to history, and inventions like this are always conveniently packaged for posterity as one-off events.
In fact the story of the development of the first microprocessors is a much more convoluted one than it might appear, with several different companies concurrently at the forefront of developments. A fascinating recent IEEE Spectrum piece from [Ken Shirriff] investigates this period in microprocessor design, and presents the surprising conclusion that Texas Instruments may deserve the crown of having created the first 8-bit device, dislodging the 8008 from its pedestal. Continue reading “The Surprising Story Of The First Microprocessors”
Judging from the consignment area of the Vintage Computer Festival this weekend, there is still a booming market for vintage computers and other ephemera from the dawn of the era of the home computer. Even more interesting are reimaginings of vintage computers using modern parts, as shown by [Vince Briel] and his amazing retrocomputer kits.
[Vince] was at VCF East this weekend showing off a few of his wares. By far the most impressive (read: the most blinkey lights) is his Altair 8800 kit that emulates the genesis of the microcomputer revolution, the Altair. There’s no vintage hardware inside, everything is emulated on an ATmega microcontroller. Still, it’s accurate enough for the discerning retrocomputer aficionado, and has VGA output, a keyboard port, and an SD card slot.
The Replica I is an extremely cut down version of the original Apple, using the original 6502 CPU and 6821 PIA. Everything else on the board is decidedly modern, with a serial to USB controller for input and a Parallax Propeller doing the video. Even with these modern chips, an expansion slot is still there, allowing a serial card or compact flash drive to be connected to the computer.
Video below, with [Vince] showing off all his wares, including his very cool Kim-1 replica.
Continue reading “VCF East: [Vince Briel] Of Briel Computers”
Every year [Len Bales] designs and builds a new clock. His 2006 clock runs on the classic Intel 8008 microprocessor. The design is definitely not for the faint of heart, but he includes all code, diagrams and a good description on his site. The project is an interesting look into the not-so-distant past of computing. While the function of the project is a clock, it is actually a fully programmable 8008 computer running at 500khz with 16k of memory space and 4io ports. [Len] also links a lot of useful 8008 resources for anyone wanting to tackle a project of their own.