Computer Museum news about computers, microcomputers, hobbyist, robotics, computing, museums, Bugbooks, Computers at Bugbook Historical Computer Museum, Floyd VA - the history makers present and historical.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Soviet home built computer arrives at the Bugbook Computer Museum

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Bugbook computer Museum
Ukraine flag
I received an offer June 25th from  Oleg (Amateur Radio Operator UR8LV in Kharkiv,Ukraine) to send me a home built Soviet Computer from the 80's. I have several Soviet microcomputers in our collection but was intrigued by Oleg's offer and severel emails later the computer was on the way.
The computer arrived just 8 days later here in Floyd, Virginia. Oleg did an amazing job of shipping and getting the package here in such short time.

I have posted some of the emails at the end of this blog and you may find them interesting to read.

Click on photo's to enlarge
Bugbook compute musem
Soviet Microcomputer Package
Here are some photograph's  of the Soviet microcomputer.

The package was in good condition upon arriving in Floyd, VA.

 I don't know much about this computer but hope some of the readers will help identify the computer. It is most likely a Sinclair clone.
Video of this computer "CLICK"

Bugbook computer museum
Soviet Microcomputer

Nice packaging for this computer - made in late 80's.

bugbook Computer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer

The one board Soviet microcomputer.

Bugbook Computer Museum
Soviet 8080 clone microprocessor

CPU is Soviet 8080 clone microprocessor.

Click on photo's to enlarge
Bugbook Computer Museum
Soviet EPROM

Soviet EPROM or POROM ( Program once ROM).

Bugbook Computer Museum
RAM Memory chips.

RAM Memory chips.

Bugbook Computer Museum
Soviet military parts in computer

Soviet military parts in computer.

Bugbook Computer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer Keyboard

Soviet Microcomputer Keyboard.

I had some interesting times visiting and teaching in the Soviet Union. See blog "CLICK"


Raspberry pi 2 computer 

Here is the computer we are sending to Oleg.

Raspberry Pi 2 , Touch display,Wifi USB, power supply.

My wife sent the Raspberry out today 7-21-15. I hope it gets to Oleg as fast as the computer he sent to me. 

Email June 2015 - David's is Red and Oleg's is Blue.
Hello, David.

My name is Oleg (UR8LV, ex EM1LV).  I"m from Ukraine, Kharkiv.

Do you have interest to home made computers of 1988-1989 as component of history? :)
One of my client want to sale interesting model called "Leningrad-2" for chipest money. 

Comps not working for corrosion of board, but looks well around. 
Not so good inside home made case, but all interesting moment are ready to enjoing: Soviet military chips with gold, capacitors with tantalum, military wires with PTFT. And home made board. 
I remember that time as well: a lot of radioenthusiast had made personal Sinklair...

Well, tell me know about your interest, please.

Hi Oleg - Thank you - what price and how would we get the computer here to the states?  Dave KK4WW

If disassembled into parts and sold for gold and tantalum, then give about 25 usd.
And, shipping in USA by airmail (via Ukrainian post) should be 17 usd.
Totally: 42 usd.
It seems, not so high price. :)

But, i'm not looking for money. This is not my business :)
Ready make a radioamateurs change to Raspberry Pi 2 with TFT screen (of course, not so modern for high price- something like 4").

How about that?

Hi Oleg - the price is fine - My concern is will the computer really show up at my address?? the Ukraine post does not seem to reliable?? 73 dave

Good morning/good evening, David :)

Give me your address, i am ready to send parcell today or tomorrow with track-code. 
Our post is working well for reliable price, i work as manager of Kharkiv regional amateur radio society and sent QSL"s all around world without lossless.

73 Oleg

Hi Oleg - Thank you - I will get some funds to you when the computer arrives - I will be looking for the "Sinclair in Russia " story and hope you will allow me to post it on my blog 

Welcome, Dave.

I'm not very good at English. I hope that you understand the basic idea.

Sinclair history in the Soviet Union is very well described here on this page.

In short, the first clone of Sinclair made in Lviv (Ukraine) in 1984 in one of the secret research institutes.
There are the names of these men: Edward A. Marchenko, Yuri D. Dobush, Evgeny Natopta, Oleg Starostenko.

Then, the scheme improved in Leningrad (Russia), Rostov (Russia), Moscow (Russia), Kharkov (Ukraine).

It was a real boooom. I think that in the USSR, Sinclair have made several millions since 84 till 90
The main problem has been in detail. They can not be bought, and they just stole those who worked in military factories. There was a lot of plants.
In one city-my Kharkiv- it was located 15 electronics factories.

In early 2015, I thought of Sinclair. Just was nostalgia. And I tried to buy a sample. When a person is brought to me, I'm just stunned: chip gold, palladium and capacitors tantalum wire with Teflon. This is the whole history of the Soviet military radio in one product! A case has been made lovingly homemade. This, too, reflects the desire of our people to science.

I do not need this machine, and I was ready to disassemble parts and to return the money, but the thought of your museum and thought it was a fine specimen for you.
And it's a beautiful monument to the Soviet idiocy, when, instead of the right people pans, pots, microwave ovens, washing machines, computers, all the forces rushed to war production. In the late 80's just started the hunger ...

That's the story.

Hi Oleg - Thank you for the story -it is most interesting.   What do you mean by this part at the end??

By the way, parcell now on custom in Kiev ----  who or what is parcell ??
I need to find out how to translated the web page from Russian to English.
I visited Lviv many times from 1990 to 2005.  Have many friends there - Helen Goncharsky just spent 4 weeks with us from Lviv. Helen and her husband, Victor hosted all our meetings in Lviv for the past 25 years.
73 dave

Good morning, Dave.
In 90-s in the Soviet Union was a real hunger, but the industry continued to produce military products.
Were coupons for food and essentials things. You may see form of coupons on sugar, vodka, salt, meat e.t.c. in 1986-1993 
The people looked a new and designed the first computers even in such terrible conditions.

I know Victor and Helen very well: US5WE and UR5WA. :) 
It seems, they know English much better me and may help translate article. 
Another way is Google translator on-line. 

Parcel is parcel post with track code RC610549694UA. 
You have to get package a week or two.

Hi  Oleg - The computer arrived in fine condition.  That was really fast.  How do I send you the funds ? I have your address from the package if I send the funds there.  I will be doing a blog about this good experience with you and the computer soon.
It was very generous of you to go to this effort to send the computer to me and I really thank you for sending it to me.
73 Dave

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
Roger Cain KI6FYF
L-R Roger Cain KI6FYF
Carol Milazzo  KP
Obtaining the Soviet microcomputer has been a very pleasant surprise.  I have been writing this blog for several years and this work has many interesting offers. I have sure made a lot of new retro computer friends and many museum curators. I have also had many out of town visitors and a number from other countries that have made the trip just to visit me and the museum. Just this past week Carol Milazzo KP4MD and Roger Cain KI6FYF from California made a special trip to the museum.

Radio Contact N4USA Dave made with KP4MD - Carol was in Puerto Rico operating 17 meters SSB , 3 foot magnetic loop antenna and 12 watts of power. KP4MD 55 and N4USA 57 signal reports.

           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Discrete component electronics to Integrated Circuits - 50 years of change

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A very short summary of the 50 years -  From individual transistors used to make electronic circuits in 1965 to one integrated circuit (smaller than your thumbnail)  microprocessor chip containing 5.5 billion transistors in 2015.

The Integrated Circuit (IC) changed electronics in a very big way.  Jack Kilby demonstrated a working example for the IC made of germanium  in 1958 and six months  later  Robert Noyce demonstrated his own idea of the IC made of silicon that  solved many practical problems of producing an IC. The invention of the IC was a new way of building electronic circuits and Jack Kilby received the Nobel Prize in physics  in December 2000. These notes from Wikipedia.

A lesson in electronic circuit manufacturing prior to the IC.
click on photo to enlarge
7 transistor Radio 
Transistors were invented in 1947 and became a practical amplifier design element in about 1957.

Here is a look at the inside of a 1965 transistor radio made with 7 transistors.

 In 2007 one large memory IC contained a sufficient number of transistors to make more than one billion of these radios.

7 transistor Radio
Looking closer at the inside of the transistor radio you see the 2 black transistors with 3 legs and a few resistors, capacitors and inductors.  These are all discrete components.

These discrete components can be replaced by circuitry in a single IC - and by the billions in the one IC. An IC can have manufactured into the chip - diodes, resistors, capacitors, and transistors. However the chip count is always just the number of transistors. As of 2015, the highest transistor count in a commercially available CPU (in one IC chip) is over 5.5 billion transistors - Intel's 18-core Xeon Haswell-EP.


click on photo to enlarge
Computer museum
Vacuum tube amplifier
          Vacuum tubes were invented in 1904 by  John Ambrose Fleming and later individual transistors in 1947 invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley are the amplifying element in all electronic circuits.
         This photo is an amplifier from an electronic instrument (Oscilloscope 1960) with about 36 tubes. The whole instrument had about 100 tubes. The amplifier is about 12 inchs by 12 inchs.
Transistors replaced vacuum tubes as amplifying devices in the 60's. Transistors are much smaller than vacuum tubes, use less power, generate less heat and in theory never wear out making circuits much smaller & use much less power.

computer museum
discrete components

The bottom of the amplifier containing all the needed resistors and capacitors needed to make the circuit operational.

This is called discrete component design because each part is a single  separate part - (resistor or capacitor in the design).

click on photo to enlarge
Bugbook Computer Museum
Components by Khrulev Alexey E.

Examples of discrete components.

Computer museum
resistors & capacitor - discrete components
Several discrete components in a circuit - resistors and capacitor wired together. The red device is the capacitor and is about 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch in size.

An IC smaller than the capacitor in 2005 contained more than a billion-transistors  on a single chip and in 2007  tens of billions of memory transistors on a single chip. I don't know what is available today, these numbers are just hard to imagine on a single chip.

Click on photo to enlarge 
Computer Museum
IC chip containing millions of transistors
ICs have two main advantages over discrete circuits: cost and performance. Cost is low because the chips, with all their components, are printed as a unit by photolithography rather than being constructed one transistor at a time. Furthermore, packaged ICs use much less material than discrete 2, with up to 9 million transistors per mm2. Performance is high because the IC's components switch quickly and consume little power (compared to their discrete counterparts) as a result of the small size and close proximity of the components. As of 2012, typical chip areas range from a few square millimeters to around 450 mm.
Bugbook computer museum
Carol Milazzio

Some nice photos taken in our museum by Carol Milazzio KP4MD during a recent visit - "Take a look Click"

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
This blog post has been fun for me as a way to reminisce. I began to use vacuum tubes in 1952 as an amateur radio operator at 14 years old.  Later my teaching for 31 years at Virginia Tech started in 1967 with vacuum tubes and ended in 1998 using microcomputers. I experienced the whole range from tubes to large scale Integrated Circuits.
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

EPROM - Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory - computer memory

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Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
The first (1971) EPROM ( Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory ) 1702A changed computing forever. The 1702A is  Nonvolatile memory chip and does not lose its contents (program) when power is turned off.  RAM (Random Access Memory)  used at the time was volatile - the contents is lost every time power was turned off.  Being able to program the microcomputer and have the program or data stay resident when power is turned off was essential. The EPROM was invented by Dov Frohman of Intel in 1971, who was awarded US patent 3660819 in 1972.

Click on photo to enlarge
Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks

It is interesting to look though the quartz window of the EPROM integrated circuit (IC) at  the die inside. You can see the little gold wires that connect the die to the pins on the holder.  The quartz window allows the memory to be erased by exposing it to UV light and then it could be reprogrammed. More information about EPROM's "Wikipedia CLICK"

This is a revisit to EPROM's - see my earlier post "Vintage EPROM Memory 1702A -Made microcomputers, robotics and micro-controllers practical 1971 CLICK"

Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
1987 reciept for 359 EPROM's

In 1987 I purchased a nice collection of 359 EPROM's from Computer Surplus Store for $229.85.  This looks like a good deal today at 50 cents each.

Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
1987 receipt for 359 EPROM's

Date & Price

Click on photo to enlarge
Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
1702A 2708 EPROM

Here  are the 359 contained in 30 storage tubes. Almost all the EPROM's are the beautiful ones in a white ceramic package and gold pins.

This shows hoarding as I indicated in my last Blog.

Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
1702A 2708 EPROM close view
A closer look at some of the 359 EPROM's.

I purchased these 28 years ago with the idea of using them to make a display plaque to put on a desk or hang on the wall. The white ceramic EPROM's with the clear quartz window a very interesting to view and with some additional photographs and history with the EPROM it would be an eye catcher for sure.

You can get a good look by CLICKING on the photo.

As you can see I have not made the displays using the 359 EPROM's and would like some help or suggestion about how to put them good use . Of course I could sell them on Ebay but that would not be much fun. Contact me here with your idea's "Contact David CLICK"

Some of the EPROM'S  in our inventory are in applications like the board below.
Click on photo to enlarge
Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
menory card 2716 EPROM
I have hundred's or perhaps 1000's more of the EPROM'S in the museum warehouse. Many are in the nice white package.

Here is a typical use of EPROM's - this board contains (16) 2716 EPROM's . The operational program for this computer is contained in these 16 nonvolatile memory chips. The 2716 contains 16K Byte of memory.

Can someone help me identify this early microcomputer board??

Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
2716 EPROM

Better view of the 2716 chips on the computer board shown above.

A small collection of EPROM'S
Click on photo to enlarge
Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
Intel 1702A EPROM

A small batch of 1702A chips unused in the original Intel Package. The package is also interesting and a collectible item.

Computer Museum Bugbook Bugbooks
Intel 1702A EPROM 

 New unused Intel 1702A EPROM chips.

Here is a video I made in 2009 about the 1702A EPROM "CLICK"
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
I have hundreds of EPROM's in the museum warehouse and many of them are still on computer boards like S100 memory cards. Please help with some innovative and interesting uses for all these beautiful IC's. Still having fun at 76 yrs. 
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Computer Museum Curator is a hoarder of good Memorabilia

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These Gerber bottles are from 1963 when my son was born and I was working at Konel Electronics.  Konel made marine radio transmitters and used a lot of stainless steel hardware.  The hardware nuts and bolts that fell on the floor were just swept up and tossed in the trash. It was not worth the time to sort the little hardware pieces & I saved some useful items. Sidney Koningsberg  owner of Konel was a great fellow. He gave me my first job out of college in 1963 and loaned me $3000 for a down payment on my first house.

Click on photo to enlarge 
David Larsen, Computer Musem
Konel Marine Radio Transmitter  1963

This 52 year old Gerber bottles may be collectible items however  for me they just contain useful hardware from 50 years ago. I find uses for this hardware often.

A  video of hoard of Gerber Baby Bottles "CLICK"

Gerber Baby food bottles
Gerber Baby food bottles

Some have red tops and some blue - I don't know just what that indicated. A bottle collector would know.

Computer museum, david Larsen
Konel Marine Radio Transmitter 

I saved some of the discarded stainless hardware nuts and bolts for my own use. I used these Gerber jars to store the little nuts and bolts and here we are more then 52 years latter with the remaining hardware. It has been useful all these years to be able to use the hardware as needed and it is often I do need a few of these parts for repair.

Click on photo to enlarge 
Konel Marine Radio Transmitter 

More hardware -  I have about 10 of this bottles with various hardware items stored.

Computer museum, curator
Konel Marine Radio Transmitter 
This is where I gathered the hardware stored in the Gerber bottles 53 years ago.
This Konel Marine Radio Transmitter was built by the company I worked for when I graduated from Oregon State University in June 1963. I had a lot of experience with transmitters and receivers - Ham Radio at 15 years old ( and still at it 61 years latter) - 2 years in Navy are Radio technician. I also worked 2 years during my Summers while in college for Mr. Koningsberg .

This Konel transceiver is on display in our museum.

Little video of this Konel transceiver "CLICK"
A good day in the museum - 6-21-15

Computer Museum, David Larsen
Kids day 2015 Amateur Radio
Amateur Radio Station N4USA used to make contacts nation wide on this Kids Days - a special day when Amateur radio operators brings kids into their station for the experience of talking to other children direct by two way long distance short wave radio. At N4USA we made contact with stations and kids in NY, Montana, Illinois,and other states.
 Bugbook Computer

computer Museum David Larsen
Kids day 2015 Amateur Radio

The Kids day ham operators L-R Matt Standberry, Mark Ward, David Larsen, & Tom King.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen

 Still having fun at 76 yrs. 

           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Martin Research Mike 2 Computer - vintage 1975

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An early addition to my computer collection was the Martin Research Mike 2 computer in December of 1979. Their are not many of these in existence & I am delighted to have the computer in our museum. Little information is available on the internet and what I found have links on this post.

Click photo to enlarge 
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer museum
Martin Research Mike 2 Computer 1975

The Mike 2 is a bare-bones system–just the CPU board with a 20-key keypad and a seven-digit displays. The customer supplied his own cabinet and power supply. The system was upgradeable to the faster 8080-based Mike 303A. The Mike series was for hobbyists looking for an inexpensive entry-level system.

Video of this computer "CLICK"

Donald P. Martin wrote the book "Microcomputer Design"  in 1976 (2nd edition) here is the whole  225 page PDF "CLICK"  

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer museum
CPU board 

CPU board uses the Intel  8008 Microprocessor.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer museum
Memory Board 

The memory board uses 2112 RAM chips and 1702A EPROM Chips

Click on photos to enlarge 
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer museum
Interface connections 

The computer boards are connected together with a flat cable and the cable would connect to additional cards or equipment for interfacing.

1975 Purchase information from  Classic Tech
Martin Research Mike 203A (Mike 2)/Mike 303A (Mike 3) (1975, computer trainer)
Original Retail Price: $270 kit (Mike 2)/$395 kit, $495 assembled (Mike 3)
Base Configuration: 8008 (Mike 2)/8080 (Mike 3) CPU, up to 4K RAM, PROM storage, seven-digit LED, hex keypad, monitor software, operation manual
Important Options: I/O interface
Martin Research Mike 8 (1977, computer trainer)
Original Retail Price: $895
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, 4K RAM, 1K ROM, LED readout, integral hex keypad, EROM programmer, power supply

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer museum

The Martin Research Mike 2 microcomputer had a number of  "First"

-- Used the first Intel 8 bit microprocessor 8008
-- Used the first Intel EPROM 1702A
-- Advertised in the first issue of Byte Magazine September 1975
-- Almost had the first single board microcomputer - instead they put the computer on 3 boards. Jon Titus is given credit in Wikipedia for the his MMD1 being the first microcomputer - see info "CLICK"

The Advertisement for Martin Research Mike 2 computer in Byte Magazine issues #1,2,&3 full page "CLICK"

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
My Wife & I  had a wonderful time at the 18th birthday party for our granddaughters (twins) in Maryland and they also graduated on the same day - WOW great day May 6th 2015. Things have slowed some at our Chantilly Farm however still smaller events 13th a Wedding, 16th Virginia Crooked Road Show, and 20th a Prom Dance in the barn. I did have time to do a several video's and a blog this week. Still having fun at 76 yrs. 

           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian