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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bugbook Computer Museum curator looks at old times

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When writing one of my blog post or working in the computer museum I always think about events in my past various careers. This may be of interest only to me however here are few milestones that came to mind tonight. My wife and I also get to talking about old times now and then and it is fun to look back over my 76+ years.

Bugbook Computer Museum
David Larsen W7VZW
My growing up years were in Oregon during the 40's & 50's.

This photo is my amateur radio station in 1954. My interest in electronics and amateur radio would determine my career for the next 51 years.

Graduated from Oregon State University in 1963 after a 2 years of duty in the Navy.

To enlarge "CLICK" on photo,s
Bugbook Computer Museum
David Larsen 1957 computer school
Started Navy duty in September 1957 and was sent to school at Remington Rand Univac in St. Paul, Mn. This was so long ago that the famous Dr. Grace Hopper was there at the same time working as senior scientist developing computer programming. She wrote the very first compiler program. Dr. Hopper was 51 years old at the time I was at Remington Rand Univac. She retired from the Navy in 1986 at 80 years old as  rear admiral and lived until 1992.

Bugbook Computer Museum
David did complete the training 

While in training for the Navy at Remington Rand Univac I did manager to complete several courses of study.

This was my first experience with computers and it created a curiosity about computers that has lasted to this very day.

Bugbook Computer Museum
David's First design project at VT
After graduating from Oregon State University in 1963 I worked as an engineer for several companies before my 31 years as a faculty member at Virginia Tech (VT).  The companies were Raytheon, Konel, Fairchild, and Varian Associates then on to VT in 1967 as a faculty member.

This photo taken in 1968 was one of my first projects at VT. I designed some circuits that would take the output of a digital multimeter and print & punch out the information on  paper tape using the ASR33 teletype. It may not seem like much now but data was read off a strip chart recorder and then manually digitized for computer entry before I designed this automated digital data logger.  A few years later I did some consulting for IBM and Analog Devices and they both built and sold commercial products using my ideas.

Bugbook Computer Museum
David teaching PDP-8
Interfacing workshop 1970
During my 31 years at Virginia Tech I taught many short courses in "Data Automation and Computer Instrumentation.  These workshops were just great and also provided travel to dozens of countries. Tonight just received an email from Nick Cloyes who attended one of our workshops in 1976 - a lot of reminiscing with this.

This photo is one of the early workshops using a PDP-8L Minicomputer about 1970. I did not do this work alone and was joined by various faculty during the 31 years at VT. Some of my colleagues were professors Dessy, Rony and Field, Jon Titus & Chris Titus at the Blacksburg Group and others on various occasions.

Bugbook Computer Museum
Outboards - digital teaching aids

About 1974 I designed some very simple digital teaching modules and called them "Outboards". They were marketed by E & L Instruments of Derby, CT along with the Bugbooks and other products developed my colleagues at the Blacksburg Group.

Bugbook Computer Museum

A catalog page from E & L Instruments showing a few of the "Outboards" in 1975. E & L also sold most of the digital products developed by our "Blacksburg Group" - some of the products were Jon Titus's MMD-1 computer, Bugbooks, Outboards, and other digital teaching equipment. See more here "CLICK"

Bugbook Computer Museum
teaching a digital electronics workshop 
Digital electronics were new to everyone in the late 60's and we taught many short courses to Virginia Tech faculty and researchers in digital electronics - learning all about Gates and Flip-Flops.

These folks are using the Outboards and powering the experiments with a 6 volt lanter battery.

That is me leaning over at the back of the room near the screen in 1974.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Their are many more milestones and stories along the way for me however; I have ended up at this time with a wonderful collection of microcomputer memorabilia and writing this blog. A small part of the collection is displayed in the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  Floyd,Va.  I sure have lots of fond memories working with these old computers.

David G Larsen
David G Larsen

 "by David Larsen" KK4WW Computer Collector / Historian 
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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Websites & blogs for computer collectors & historians

Bugbooks bugbook
Bugbooks "CLICK"

David Larsen KK4WW dec
Old Digital Equipment Corporation Computer 
I have been a collector of historical computer memorabilia for more than 40 years.   To help with the search for information I  have also collected a list of websites of computer museum's,  computer  history blogs and other sites useful for information about old computers.

Here is my collection of these websites I hope you fine this useful. Save this URL for getting the newest updates "CLICK"

Computer History - Websites & Blog's

David makes a few comments about this page. 
                               Send Message CLICK   Like us Click

Click Name to go to blog or web page.  
These are not in order - New sites are added at the bottom of the list.

Great History Resource - Computer History MuseumCollector of Classic Computers Rich Cini
Mark 8 Microcomputers
History of Computing in Learning and Education Project Wiki!
HCLE Virtual Museum Blog by Liza Loop
S100 Computers  John Monahan 
Bugbook Computer Museum
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
The Calculator Reference - Rick Furr, Blacksburg , VA 
Bob Denton  History - pioneers
Bill Degnan's  Vintage Computer. net        
David Greelish's Classic Computing
David Larsen'sVintage Computer Museum Video's  
Obsolete Technology Old Computers 
Bruce Damer Digibarn
Rick Crandall   a pioneer of computer timesharing services
Erick Klein's Vintage Computer
David Larsen's Apple 1 Computer Video's 
Dan Reganti's Classic Computers
Mike Willegal's Hobby Blog 
Jeffery Jonas Classic Computers
Mid Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyist
Computer History Museum   
Living Computer Museum
Rhode Island Computer Museum
Official IMSAI web site 
Inventors - computers 
SCELBI computer museum - Cameron Cooper 
Herb's S-100 stuff  Herb Johnson's Blog
The Unofficial CP/M Web site 
PC History
SOL 20 
Vintage Calculator Museum Great Information by Nigel Tout
Apple History 
Michel Bardel's list of calculators.
Rhode Island Computer Museum 
Photos of old computer/calculator
Endicott History & Heritage Center is presenting the IBM Endicott Collection 
The Museum of Information Technology at Arlington
The Personal Computer Museum       SYD BOLTON , Brantford, Ontario, Canada 
Fun with Electronics and more - Tronola  by Stephen H. Lafferty 
Historical Computers and Vintage Computer Restoration
 Rich Cini Classic Computer Pages
Eniac a real vintage computer - great stories and photos 
Old Technology Collection     Mike Loewen collection 
Vintage CPU Computer Chips  -  Collectibles, Memorabilia & Jewelry
IBM Archives 
Classic Computer Magazine Archive
Terry Stewart's vintage computers
Early Office Museum
Antique Chip Technology Revisited
Top 40 Vintage Computers Selling on ebay weekly  
Les amis du Bolo's Computer Museum - Lausanne switzerland   More Museum    Blog
Apple Museum in Moscow, Russia 
Hewlett Packard computer museum
Alex's Apple Orchard Bill and son Alex
Carl Friends minicomputer site 
Jason Fitzpatrick - blogger / collector
I T History Society
American Computer & Robotics Museum
Vintage collection of Flat Pack IC's  VINTCHIP site
Future Bots By Dan Mathias
Virtual Display by Santo Nucifora
Computer Museum Collection of Brian L. Stuart a faculty member at Drexel
TRS-80 Revived site by Ira Goldlang
Shrine Of Apple creation of Jonathan Zuf
VintageMicros Inc. specializes in vintage and obsolete memorabilia
RetroMacCast Where old Macs live again
 Vintage Mac Museum working collection of the pre-Intel Apple Macintosh
Computer Museum of America 
Dalby Datormuseum Sweden 
American Radio History - David Gleason's 2 million pages on line includes Byte Magazine
 Computer Asylum  
New Zealand Computer Museum    Techvana      
Museum of Computing UK     history of computing and digital development     
Vintage Mac Museum   private, working collection of Adam Rosen
6502 Microprocessor resource  by Mike Naberezny Computer Preservation  Mary E. Hopper website
The National Museum of Computing
The Turing Digital Archive
Center for Computer History UK
Vintage Computer Festival
DECconnection dedicated to the memory of our founder and hero, Kenneth H. Olsen (20 Feb 1926 - 6 Feb 2011).
SInclair ZX 81 Museum 
Freeman PC Museum  Jim Cox Lab Manager at Microsoft
Glenn’s Computer Museum - CenTaur Technology
Retro Computing News  Stuart Williams, Walsall, England
.history of personal computing in Audio & Pictures by Jeff and David   Stefan's Personal Collection
Computer communities

David G Larsen
David G Larsen

A computer web site you like and not here - send it to me for adding.. 

 "by David Larsen" KK4WW Computer Collector / Historian 
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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