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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vintage Computer MARK 8 - 40 year Anniversary July 2014 - Start of something Big

David Larsen KK4WW
MARK8 Microcomputer is 40 years old this month.

The MARK 8 microcomputer designed by Jon Titus and published as a construction article in RadioElectronics magazine July 1974.  The MARK 8 was the first construction article about how to build your own microcomputer and was an important part of the home / personal computer revolution.

  A big Congratulations to Jon for this 40 year anniversary.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
MARK 8 Computer by Jon Titus 
Dr. John Titus designed and published a construction article about the MARK 8 Computer in the July 1974 'Radio Electronics Magazine'. Dr. Titus  was a graduate student at Virginia Tech and is given credit for being the first to make it possible for an electronic hobbyist to build their very own microcomputer.   Several were even made into rather complex control computers.  We have one in our Microcomputer Museum with lots of extra complex circuits and software to make it into a process control computer. Hobbyist had to obtain all the parts on his own.  A company did make the bare printed circuit cards available and the additional parts were a challenge acquire. This limited the number of computers constructed to several hundred or less. To help a 48 page construction guide was made available by the publishers of ’Radio Electronics' for about $5.00.  Only a few MARK 8 microcomputers were ever built into working computers and less the 50 original are in collections / Museums today.

The publication of the MARK 8 computer in the July issue of 'Radio Electronics' was the  first time a construction article was available on how to build your own microcomputer. This was noticed by the competing publication 'Popular Electronics' and followed in January 1975 with an article about the "MITS Altair 8800" microcomputer.  John was first with the MARK 8 and as a result many computer clubs and newsletters were started to help computer hobbyist build and use the MARK 8.

Here is a the whole article in 'Radio Electronics' from  Rich Cini Collector of Classic Computers web site.

Here is a look at five very different variations of how folks constructed their MARK 8 computer. 

David Larsen KK4WW

It is my pleasure to be a colleague of Jon and have worked together in the "Blackburg Group" for about 12 years.

 "by David Larsen" KK4WW Microcomputer Collector/Historian.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vintage Apple 1 Computer display at "Bugbook Computer Museum"

Bugbook Computer museum
Apple 1 Clone
We have several original Apple 1 Microcomputer in our Historical collection however at this time we do not feel our security is appropriate to have them on display in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" 24/7.  Most of our patrons really want to see the real THING. I feel the same way --- So we have a clone Apple 1 built by Brandon Cholodenko on display until we feel confident about displaying the originals.

Click on Photo's to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 computer display 

The Apple 1 computer is displayed  beautifully on top  this six sided glass pedestal with some photos and other documents inside the pedestal.

Here is a video of one our original Apple 1 computers I purchased from Adam Schoolsky in 1994 

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 computer display

Documents  inside the pedestal.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 computer display

Copy of letter sent out by Steve Jobs offering to take an Apple 1 + $400 in trade for an Apple 11. The trade in offer reduced the number of original Apple 1 computers down from the 200 to a much lower number within a year of the introduction of the Apple 1.

Click Photo's to enlarge
Bugbook Computer Museum
Brandon Cholodenko
We contacted Brandon Cholodenko about building the Apple 1 clone computer for the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" in Floyd Virginia.  We are extremely pleased with the computer and other items Brandon put together for our display. This is an operational computer and a replica as close as possible to an original Apple 1 computer. Brandon started with the Apple 1 PC board from Mike Willegal. Even some of the components are date coded in the at the time the original computers - 1976 or earlier. 200 Apple 1 computers were made by the Apple Company  in 1976 and about 50 still are in collections and museum.

Brandon Cholodenko tells about building this clone Apple 1 computer

A very Big Thank you to Brandon for helping build this Apple 1 display.

Here is Brandon's Twitter Account - send him a note about nice work he did on this Apple 1 project.

Here is a video of the museum and Apple 1 display "CLICK"

It has been a joy to work with Brandon Cholodenko and to set up this display in our Museum. We are located in Floyd Virginia - just 6 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Come visit the museum - we also have a lot of mountain music and artisans in our community.
"by David Larsen"

Friday, July 11, 2014

David Larsen -Computer Historian -Virginia Tech - University Public Service Excellence Award - 1995

David Larsen KK4WW
David Larsen
I am pleased with this award for my teaching courses about Electronics and Computers at Virginia Tech (VT) & outreach in many other countries. This award was listed on the VT web site for 25 years however when the VT web site was rebuilt these older awards were not include -- So I have posted it here.
WOW just found that after several months the VT post is back up.

The text of the award gives a good description of my 31 years of teaching "Electronics for Scientist" courses at VT.

             Click on document to enlarge.

A little congratulation by the big guys on VT campus.
Photo L-R Me David Larsen : Dr. Richard Gandor, my department head : Dr. Ted Torgenson, President of Virginia Tech. 1995.

The award had some nice cash with it and I donated the cash to our "Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service" .

             "By David Larsen"

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vintage computing - Who started the Personal Computer Revolution ??

"The Lost Story of the Texans Who Invented the Personal Computer Revolution"  a 327 page book by Lamont Wood & published in 2010.
Click on photo to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint book by Lamont Wood 
This book is a fresh look at the early history of the microprocessor .  Specifically who had the idea for the first Intel 8 bit microprocessor chip. I just finished reading the book a found it to be fascinating and a new look at not only the Datapoint 2200 but also the start of the Intel microprocessor chips.

 July 10,1971 - The first desk top mass produced 8 bit computer with internal memory, keyboard, screen, mass storage, operating system, and communication ability. The Datapoint 2200 designed and marketed by "Computer Terminal Corporation" was really a personal computer that was priced way below the minicomputers that were the small computer market at that time. The idea for the Datapoint 2200 was based on plans as far back as 1968 - years before Bill Gate and Paul Allen started Microsoft or Steve Wozniak designed the Apple 1 microcomputer. The logic of the 2200 was the basis of the Intel 8008 chip.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint 2200 View Video "CLICK"
Lamont Wood tells a lot about the whole process of the Intel start up for the 4 bit and 8 bit microprocessors.  The developers at Computer Terminal Corporation took there design of the Datapoint 2200 to Intel. They contracted with Intel to develop a  single chip (Microprocessor ) version of the 8 bit computer in the 2200.   The  computer circuitry of the 2200 was made with about 100 small scale digital integrated circuits. A lot of Intel and other microprocessor history included in Lamont's book.

The founders of Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC)- Gus Roche, Phil Ray and Jack Frassanito  - had a great head start and could have been the current big boys in the personal computer business. However not being able to see the future of computing they gave up the rights to the microprocessor to Intel.  CTC did not redesign the Datapoint Terminal ( Computer ) to use the microprocessor chip and sold it for a many years with the original design using just small scale integrated circuits. Later models did use microprocessor chips but the company fell apart when some of the sales folks start to cook the books on sales. This underhanded operation by a few of the sales people caused the investors of Wall Street to pull the  plug on investment funds and this ended the great start of the Personal Computer business by CTC. February 1982 was the last good day for share prices of CTC.  CTC had over 9000 employees and was not a small company however it is only history at this time.

I recommend this book for people who are interested in the personal computer and microprocessor history before - Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and IBM.  This is really an amazing story that most of us missed  that were working in the computer field during the early years - 1970 + .

The CTC 2200 story in really fascinating and not well known - you will like the book.

Here is an original Datapoint promotional movie - about 1980 "CLICK" 

To take a close look at the inside of the Datapoint 2200 view this video "CLICK"

Here is a link to Amazon for the book.

I want to thank Gordon Peterson who suggested this book and worked for CTC for about 9 years as a major software developer. Gordon wrote  "Local Area Network"  (LAN) software for the 2200. This was way before LAN's were available for the Apple and IBM personal computers. See some of his information here "CLICK". Gordon corrected information I had about the Datapoint 1100 - I was in error about some assumptions and also miss named the 1100 in some of my text as a 2100.

David G Larsen
 During the late 80's I was able to acquire a fine example of the model 2200 and a model 1100. The CTC 2200 and 1100 now are part of the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vintage Computers - The Datapoint 2200 & "Computer Terminal Corporation" THE REST OF THE STORY!!

Click on photo's to enlarge

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint 2200 computer
The Personal Computer Revolution started in San Antonio, Texas.

I received a very informative response from Gordon Peterson to my video about the "Computer Terminal Corporation"  (CTC) 2200 Terminal.  The famous radio personality Paul Harvey would say - here is the Rest of the story.  You can read Gordon's fascinating  reply below.  I purchased the book he recommend about the CTC story. WOW it is an exciting read. The CTC story and the people involved is really an important story about the creative effort & computer that started the Personal Computer Revolution and the first  8 bit microprocessor for Intel  ---- the 8008.  Here is my first blog about the Datapoint 2200 "CLICK"

Gordon worked for Datapoint for 9 years and had a inside view of the of personalities, creation of products and the rise & fall of the company.
Here is Gordon's response. 

The Datapoint 2200 was a revolutionary machine for a whole lot of reasons.  It was the first general-purpose computer designed for single-user, desktop use, and that looked more like a piece of office equipment than like a piece of exotic electronics.  I worked in Software Development / Advanced Product Development / R&D at Datapoint for more than 9 years, and it was a very rewarding time.   I designed and wrote the world's first commercially available LAN software there... the company sold over a billion dollars' worth of that product.  I also was the lead developer of the disk operating system there for several years.  A lot of us Datapoint folks are on the DatapointComputers Yahoogroup.  Also, there's a wonderful book about Datapoint's key role in the creation of personal computing... highly recommended.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint 2100
I was aware of "Computer Terminal Corporation" during my career teaching about instrumentation and computers at Virginia Tech however I seems to have missed a lot of the story. I am delighted to have one of the Datapoint 2200 on display in my museum. I also have a Datapoint 2100 in the computer warehouse that is in nice condition.  I have not been able to find out much about the 2100 and would like to  hear from you if you know about this CTC Terminal.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Book about Datapoint
"Datapoint - The lost story of the Texans Who Invented the Personal Computer Revolution" by Lamont Wood - ISBN 978-1-936449-36-1
(2010) 325 pages

If you are interested in the start of the microcomputer revolution and the history of the pioneers - this is a must read book.

More resource information:

 Datapoint Wikipedia

Datapoint Group on Yahoo 

David G Larsen
I  remember for many years I did not think I would find a CTC2200 and wanted to have one as it is one of the first 8 bit computers. During the late 80's I was able to find not only this fine example and the source also had a  CTC 2100. The CTC 2200 and 2100 now are part of the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Collection"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vintage computers - The Hunt for Apple 1 computers

Apple 1 Computer
I am ask many times how did you build your computer collection.  A real help for the microcomputer memorabilia collection was - I was teaching  digital electronics and computer automation & instrumentation before the first Intel microprocessor was introduced in 1971.  My period of teaching at Virginia Tech was 1967 to 1998.  A good part of the answer is "I was at the right place at the right time".  The majority of my collection was acquired  from 1975 to 1995. During that time the computers were generally of little or no value and the owners just dumped them in the trash. Many were happy to find a crazy guy like me that actually wanted to keep and old computer.

I advertised in various publications for most of the 45 years . The one that brought in the most calls was a small classified ad in "Computer Shopper". The ad was very simple and looked like this - Wanted pre1980 microcomputers for historical collection". Over the years I recieved 1000's of calls or offers for microcomputers. I continue to run an ad in the Ham Radio magazine "QST"


Here are a few of the responses with offers for Apple 1 computers.

Craig Solomonson offered me this Apple 1 computer July 1996 for his price of less then $40,000.

WOW I sure missed a computer that made the big time - Auction at Breker Nov 28, 2010 - Yes, Italian collector Marco Boglione paid $212,000 for a 34-year-old Apple-1

Click on photos to enlarge
Craig Solomonson  Apple 1
Craig Solomonson  Apple 1
The information below is from the Apple 1 Registry 

Solomonson Apple 1 
NTI logo. This computer was first Frank Anderson. 
Next it was  purchased from Frank Anderson, an electronic dealer in Great Falls, Montana by Craig Solomonson for MECC.  Craig reports that this computer was sold by Jobs and shipped from his parents address. Woz seemed a bit confused when Craig showed him the invoice and asked about it. He said "Not sold by us, although Job's may have sold it without telling me." 
  • Sold by Craig to Jesse Sackman in California
  • $50,000 unit sold in Ebay auction 320447681957, late in 2009
  • This is the unit auctioned by Christies in London for 133,250 pounds in November of 2010 to Italian businessman and private collector Marco Boglione


During the 80/90's I was offered about 10 Apple 1 computers and managed to purchase 4 of them. One offer was for me trade a new automobile van for his computer. This was a reasonable offer but I declined the purchase at the time as too complex. I heard later that some other collector made this trade.


Adam Schoolsky letter
Schoolsky Apple 1
Schoolsky Apple1 Computer
Schoolsky Apple1 Computer
I did purchase this Apple 1 Microcomputer from Adam Schoolsky & you can see in the letter many other nice items as well. Here is a video about this computer in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" 'CLICK'


Click on photos to enlarge
Forest Duston Computer letter
Forest Duston phone log

 Apple 1 computer
Forest Duston Apple 1 computer 
I  keep a  phone log of all the calls about computers that are available. The photo to the left is copy of call from Forest and he told me he had 2 Apple 1 computers. I was skeptical about that however over the next year I found it was true and purchased both of them. It was fortunate for me and he got his price. 


Click image to enlarge
Snyder Apple 1 computer
Snyder Apple 1 computer 

This Apple 1 computer offered to me by the law firm for $15,000 was a great offer. Unfortunately at that time I was not able to make  a deal.  I don't know who  ended up with Apple 1. The computer had an interesting history and original letter from Steve Jobs with it.  Even lawyers seemed find my little classified advertising.  


apple 1 computer
Apple 1 purchase from John Burch
Here is a video of  Apple 1 I purchased  from John Burch in the mid 90's. It was a simple deal - he told me most of the collectors wanted him to just give the computer to them. He gave me a price and we had a deal.

Video of this computer has had nearly 250,000 views during the past 5 years "CLICK here to see video"

Click on photos to enlarge
Apple 1 computer
David Larsen working on Apple 1

Here I am working on the "John Burch"  Apple 1 computer.

Apple 1 computer
Apple 1 computer documentaion

I received lots of great original documentation with this computer.

Here is a little tidbit about Steve Jobs house and where and who designed the Apple 1 & 2 .
(Steve Wozniak designed them independent on his own)


David G Larsen
David Larsen
The hunt for computers during the past 45 years has been fun. Now my family and friends ask - What are you going to do with them. We have inventored more then 10,000 items in our collection and still have more to add to the data base - lots of computers and memorabilia. I have set up a small museum and hope to have an endowed museum here in Floyd Va - place  the computers with the other museums or with serious collectors before I move to Heaven. I am 75 now and only have 25 more years to go - Any ideas for my collection - give me a call.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

QR codes in the "Computer Museum"

Click Photo to enlarge
OR code on Museum Door 
We are using the QR code to implement an audio tour in the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" in Floyd Virginia.  This is working very nicely in the museum and is an on line web display. Each display or display case has the a QR code attached and just a click on the QR code with your smart phone brings up a photo and audio description of the item.

click photo to enlarge 
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
QR code on case with books

This what the QR code looks like on the display of our books in the museum.

Click here and this is what you would get in the museum when using your smart phone and scanning this QR code.

Take a look here to see whole on line audio tour of museum "CLICK"


This is a peek at our a new display and will be described in future blog.


David G Larsen
Using the QR codes in our museum has been a real nice addition for visitors when the curator is not present to give tour or the folks just want to browse the displays on there own.