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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vintage Computer - Micro 68 a 1976 microcomputer made by "Electronic Product Associates"

Bugbook
Bugbooks
I am still busy gathering new items for the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" and selected  a Micro 68 computer from our warehouse.  This microcomputer was not a very popular machine however it did find some following for those wanting to learn  machine language programming on the 6800 microprocessor. It is more of an art piece than a useful computer. You can see from the photos with the wooden sides and nice smoked Plexiglas cover it is very nice looking .  I purchased 6 of these computers in 1995 at the Dayton Hamvention in Dayton Ohio.  The early 90's were a real hayday for finding the early microcomputers from the 70's and early 80's.  I would always come home from Dayton with the car packed with good collectible computer items. It slowed down very fast in the late 90's and after 2000 it was very slim picking. Gosh I was just fortunate have started serious collecting November 1970 when the first  microprocessor chip (4004) was introduced .

To enlarge CLICK on photo
6800 microprocessor
Micro 68 microcomputer

The Micro 68 is a nice art looking computer with the smoke colored -see through - cover and beautiful finished Walnut wood sides. You can see the components though the cover making it a nice display piece.

The computer was manufactured by Electronic Product Assocates in San Diego , California - starting in 1976. This is the same year as the Apple 1 was introduced.


You can take a video tour of the computer here "CLICK"

6800 microprocessor
Micro 68 microcomputer

This computer could have made a big impact if the designers had worked with Bill Gates and Paul Allen to have a version of Basic running.  The computer was very limited in capabilities and expanding the computer was inconvenient.






6800 microprocessor
Micro 68 microcomputer

The keyboard has several dual function keys allowing you to load, examine, and execute programs.
The best use of the computer was to learn to program the 6800 microprocessor in machine code.
A serial interface card was available for $40 and the software to use with an ASR Teletype was available for about $30.                    




6800 microprocessor

The ROM chip is 512 bytes and contains the monitor program allowing you to program and run the computer with the 16 keys on the keyboard.
An addition 6 memory sockets are on the PC board for expansion with your own software in EPROM's.





6800 microprocessor
Micro 68 microcomputer


The power transformer is plugged directly into a wall outlet and the balance of the power supply components are on the circuit board.







Micro 68 microcomputer
Micro 68 microcomputer
The RAM memory with the basic unit is only 128 bytes and with all the chips loaded it had 768 bytes of RAM. This is very  limiting allowing only very short programs.
You could purchase an external 8K bytes RAM card for $270  and would have been able to run Tiny Basic with this card. The card attached to the external bus shown in this photo.
The computer was expandable to 64K bytes of RAM. You would have to build your own expansion card for the 64K of memory.



Micro 68 microcomputer
Micro 68 microcomputer
This photo was taken with the cover down a a bright flash to see the components on the PC board.
This computer was available the same year as Steve Wozniak's Apple 1. The Apple 1 required power supply transformers,keyboard and display to operate -- this computer would operate out of the box. They did miss the boat - by not offering more-- but no one could see that in 1976. The Apple 1 was a very clever design and the Micro 68 computer was just a standard 6800 with no vision of the future.


Steve Wozniak realized the limitations of the Apple 1 and quickly designed the Apple ll microcomputer - a great Plug-&-Play out of the box computer that took the world by storm in 1977 and was the start of today's largest company in the world. Great work Woz and Jobs.

bugbook historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen KK4WW
I have 6 of these Micro 68 computers and if you are interested in one contact me.
A lot more to do in the new museum area so more items to get from the warehouse.

I started to go the Dayton Hamvention in 1976 with John and Chris Titus - we sold our Bugbooks at the show and they were real popular.  John and I are both amateur radio operators and Chis never had interest in Ham Radio.  My wife and I are still going to the Hamvention and represent our "Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service" (FAIRS) .
 "by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian     Send Message    Like us on Facebook  My Blog about hometown Floyd VA




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Vintage Computers - Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum Warehouse a peek inside !


Click to enlarge 

Bugbook
Bugbooks
I seem to be spending lots of  time in our museum warehouse inspecting items for the expanded museum display --so I though it is a good idea to give you a peek at what I am dealing with. This is 45  years of collecting and it has been fun. I remember many of the items but sure can't remember them all. We do have the inventory on an excellent software data base 'Past Perfect'.  I can locate many of the items with a database search.   Their are about 10,000 entries however this does not tell the whole story of the collection. Most boxes have every piece in the box on the inventory however some entries are only of the box  general description and not all the contents.  This could easily double the number of items. Of course I would like every item to be on the inventory but this was not always practical. A good example was 16 years ago when I retired from teaching at Virginia Tech I packed up 44 file boxes of papers and other goodies. For example I had a small museum display in my office of 100 or so small items - like old core memory - special IC chips, and bits of pieces of this and that.  Only one entry in the database for each of the 44 boxes and the box contents is not inventoried.

Here is a peek at our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  ware house.

             Click photo's to enlarge 
Bugook bugbooks
Bugbook Museum Warehouse 


This represents 45 years of collecting.  The collecting is only a part -- setting up the warehouse- cleaning, checking & packing for storage has been in progress for the past 25 years.







bugbook bugbooks
Bugbook Museum Warehouse 
Time line of 45 years of collecting vintage computer memorabilia. 
-1969/74 I was able to store the collection in the house.
-1974/82 years it filled up the basement of house.
-1982/94 purchased a warehouse to store collection.
-1994 built new warehouse & moved inventory- the one in photo
-1994/present - clean,check,pack items and make a  paper inventory.
-2000/today, enter inventory into museum database "Past Perfect"
-2010 set up small museum in Floyd, Virginia.
-2014 moved museum to larger space - in progress now.



bugbook bugbooks
44 boxes from Dave's VT Office 

My office material,books,letter's & historical documents packed in 44 file-folder boxes  and stored in the museum  warehouse. Represents 1967 to 1998 - 31 years as faculty member at Virginia Tech - teaching "Electronics, Instrumentation, Computer Interfacing & Data Acquisition". The post just before this blog has 3 documents I retrieved  from these boxes of info. It is very difficult for me to think that this office material has been stored for 16 years. Golly !!!




bugbook Bugbooks
Commodore Computers Bugbook Museum 


This is end view of part of Commodore collection - inventoried and packed for the long haul. Must be 100 or more items here.








bugbook bugbooks
Apple computers Bugbook Computer Museum


View of part of Apple computer collection.  Here we see several Lisa computers and a Lisa in the original packing box. That is an ASR33  Teletype in the front wrapped in packing material. Without looking at our museum database I have no real idea how many the Apple items in the collection. The Apple 1 computers are stored in a commercial Bank Vault.



Bugbook bugbooks
Old Radio's Bugbook Museum Warehouse



I am not really a historical radio collector however it seems I have several hundred old radios.






bugbooks bugbook
Bugbook Computer Museum Inventory


Here is part of "Digital Group" Computers and if you look at inventory numbers you will see this is one set that goes together of 13 packed parcels.






bugbook bugbooks
Wall of memories Bugbook Museum Warehouse

This is the a part of 100 foot wall of memories in the warehouse. No computers here just lots of personal family things, old radio items and other fun stuff collected over the years.  Much of the items are from our foreign travels.  Just fun things - one of my family members calls this "Dave's Toy Box"  That is correct for sure.






You can see I have a few items to work with in my collection of vintage computers. My goal is to have the
warehouse empty and all the material on display and in the hands of interested folks.  Maybe I will have a museum here in Floyd that can do this - of course that is my fondest dream.  Other museums are just fine also .  Any ideas or suggestions please pass them on to me. Have a great day -- it was beautiful here in Floyd today.
  










Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vintage Computer - 8008 Intel microprocessor

Intel Corporation Logo
Intel Corporation Logo
Bugbook
Bugbooks
It seems like I am always locating an interesting find in our museum warehouse. I have been spending a lot of time choosing  equipment to display in our expanded viewing area at the museum. A bag of (34) Intel 8008 chips  just said HI FRIEND to me.

                    A very short story about the 8008
The 8008 was the first 8 bit microprocessor by Intel Corporation and  introduced in April of 1972 for $120. This chip was commissioned by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) and was originally  labeled 1201. CTC designed the 'Datapoint 2200 Programmable Terminal' with TTL logic that  contained the logic of a tiny computer. The idea was to have the computer logic put on a single chip as a microprocessor. The engineers at CTC
Intel 8008 Microprocessor
8008 microprocessor
approached Intel and Robert Noyce agreed to produce a design for $50,000 in 1970. CTC also went to Texas Instruments as a second source.  Interestingly it is reported that Robert Noyce thought it was a dumb idea to do a single chip design for this purpose--- saying a single chip would hurt chip sales--- of course the reality was microprocessors took of like a rocket in just a few years and became the major source of income for Intel.

The 1201 chip was slow to be developed and did not work as intended. CTC gave up the intellectual rights to the 1201 and did not pay the $50,000. Intel went on to use the ideas of the 1201 to develop the 8008 microprocessor.  The 8008 is an 18 pin chip and needed several external chips to use the 14-bit address bus & control signals. It still proved that microprocessors were a real product and Intel quickly developed the 40 pin 8080 microprocessor.  The 8080 proved to be a great product and microprocessors as the heart of a microcomputers were out of the gate. Now they are invading the world as smart devices by the billions.

Some of this information is from  wikipedia Intel_8008

Today I located the 2200 Data point terminal in the Bugbook Computer Museum warehouse and will put it on display at our museum in Floyd Virginia. 4-4-14

Click on photos to enlarge 
8008 Microprocessor
8008 Microprocessor

A close look at one of the 8008 microprocessor chips in the group of 34 in the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Musuem" warehouse.









8008 Microprocessor
8008 Microprocessor


Here is the whole group - in the plastic holders. I have not tested these chips and hope they are all functional.








8008 manual
8008 microprocessor manual


The manual for the 8008 microprocessor development systems made by Intel Corporation.   We have both the systems as shown on the cover in our museum display.









Intel 8008 Development system
Intel 8008 development system in our museum



This is one of the first Intel 8 bit microprocessor development systems as it resides in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"






CTC 2200
CTC 2200 
The 'Datapoint 2200 Programmable Terminal' made by  Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC). We have several of these in the museum warehouse and will put one on display in the new expanded museum. This programmable data terminal was the start of the 8008 microprocessor development.
Today I located the 2200 Data point terminal in the Bugbook Computer Museum warehouse and will put it on display at our museum in Floyd Virginia. 4-4-14




Here is the 2200 Data Point terminal  pulled off the shelf in the warehouse and still in the museum wrap. This is inventory number 92A so it was very early addition to the our warehouse.  I set it on top of an ASR 33 teletype for the photo and will get it out an get better photo when moved to our Computer Museum in Floyd Virginia.




MARK 8 microcomputer
MARK 8 microcomputer 

The Mark 8 by John Titus.  John was not the first to use the 8008 microprocessor in a computer however he was the first to build and publish a construction article on how to build your very own computer. This was published in Radio Electronics in June 1974. The computer in this photo is the one he build for the article and is on display at the Smithsonian. More info here "CLICK"



Way back in the 70/80's I worked with John Titus in a small group of 4 called "The Blacksburg Group". This article which was the last column John wrote for "Direct Design" before he retired. He mentions that early work together in a very complementary way. Sure makes me pleased John was helped by our relationship.


David G Larsen
I am always amazed when I visit our museum what  45 years of collecting and saving microcomputers for historical purposes has become for me. We have the inventory on a professional museum database "Past Perfect" and there are over 10,000 entries -- of course only a small part of this number are computers however it is still a hard for me to wrap my mind around all these items. Some day we will have a really complete microcomputer historical museum - here in the little Blue Ridge mountain community of Floyd Virginia. If you would like to know a bit more about Floyd take a look at this very good video that was just published about Floyd Virginia.







Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vintage Computer -Computer workshops in old Soviet Union

Bugbook
Bugbooks
My wife and I have had many great travel experiences during the past 40 years and perhaps a few first. Our first trip to the Soviet Union in 1990 was justified to the Soviets as a visit to teach about using microcomputers for automated data collection. This workshop was in Lviv Ukraine in October. We had about 20 engineers and scientist participants in the class. They were very enthusiastic & this information was only available to a very restricted group. Most of the participants did not speak English and  I could not lecture in Russian. Victor Goncharsky UR5WE did the translation for me.  We have made 15 or so visits to the Former Soviet Countries and I have learned speak Russian.

Click on photo to enlarge 
teaching microcomputers 1990
Teaching in Ukraine 1990
Here we are in Lviv, Ukraine October 1990 teaching our first Soviet Instrumentation Workshop. Great experience. I had brought several suitcases full of  hardware to interface the computers with external devices -  The folks that organized the workshop had made arrangements to have 10 IBM compatible PC computers in the class. They worked just fine and the DOS software worked good also.  - the computers were good Soviet pirated IBM clones.  We did about 10 workshops during the early 90's in the Soviet Union and later known as the independent countries of the Former Soviet Union. Here is the full story about this visit "CLICK" A bonus from these visits are some home built Soviet computers in our museum.

This was exciting for us and the Continuing Education group at Virginia Tech (VT)  made available 'Continuing Education Units' (CEU's) . This  may be the first ever (CEU's) issued in the Soviet Union. I was a faculty member at VT from 1967 to 1998 teaching Instrumentation and Automation in the Chemistry Department. Some of the university administrators including the Dr. Jim McCommas the University president were very supportive of our work in the Soviet Union.  I was recognized for this kind of International work just before retiring from VT.  

                    Here is the CEU certificate for our Workshop participants in the Soviet Union.


CEU in Soviet Union
CEU certificate issued in Soviet Union
Click on document to enlarge 

We had been teaching these kind of workshops for many years before the Soviet Union visit in 1990.
Computer automation workshop
Typical Automation Workshop by me and colleagues 


Here is a poster from my regular classes at Virginia Tech.
Electronics for Scientist at Virginia Tech
Electronics for Scientist at Virginia Tech


David & Gaynell Larsen
David & Gaynell Larsen
My wife Gaynell and I have had some really great adventures in foreign travel  teaching and doing amateur radio work.  On many visits we took addition people to assist these adventures. In 1992 I had some funds to take a professional film producer - here is some of his work " FAIRS in the former Soviet Union"   .  We have made dozens - maybe even more than 100 trips- during the past 40 years.  A few years  we did 4 international  workshops and mission visits -- We still do at least one a year. Our last was just one month ago - here is info about this fun mission visit to Dominica. We still have a some travel energy but it does seem we are getting older another 25 years or so will be just right.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vintage Computer - Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum expands in new location

Bugbook
Bugbooks
The "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" has moved to a much larger and better location in Floyd Virginia. This gives David Larsen and the LCF Group a much better opportunity to display the most important computers and memorabilia from the 45 year effort to collect and save this historical equipment and information. David has been working long hours everyday the past two weeks setting up the new displays. Many folks have been helping and making this move happen at lighting speed.  The building owner has been great to work with and are glad to have our museum in the most prominent location in the whole town of Floyd Virginia.

Click on photo to enlarge
museum sign
Museum sign on front of building



Our Sign on the outside of building







Computer Museum display
Computer Museum display



Story board welcome to the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum






David Larsen
David Larsen in Museum




Curator David Larsen KK4WW working on displays






front of museum
front of museum


Front part of museum - The red walls and floor
are very Floyd looking. I like it .








Bugbook Computer Museum
Bugbook Computer Museum




back part of museum







Calculator Display
Calculator Display



Front corner - case with about 100 calculators in the background







Bugbook Museum
Bugbook Museum



Mr. Ed mounting wall displays








Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museu
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum




Our sign outside the entrance











Looking out the front door into parking lot and street.








Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum



Looking at building from the street - we have a nice parking lot just in front of museum.






Ham antenna
N4USA amateur radio antenna



 Antenna for our amateur radio station N4USA in the museum






David Larsen Museum Curator
David Larsen Museum Curator



 David at Amateur radio display info







David Larsen at N4USA
David Larsen at N4USA


 David KK4WW at amateur radio station N4USA








David G Larsen
It has been a lot of fun and brings back memories from 50 years ago moving these computers and displays to the new area.
The museum and blog have given me the opportunity to hear from old friends and people who have used our books and teaching equipment from the 70s & 80s. Tonight I had a call from Maurice Green in Silicon Valley.  I lived in that area 51 years ago - wow that seems like times past. Maurice used our Bugbooks and Outboards in teaching digital electronics in the 80's and is still using them and teaching young folks about the basics of digital logic. He tells me they really enjoy this and he will report in the form of a blog to publish here on our site. I am looking forward to that information,