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Friday, August 1, 2014

Vintage Computer - WHAT inspired Titus to design the "MARK 8" Computer ?


A follow up to my blog posting last week about the 40 year anniversary of the "MARK 8" .

Bugbook Historical Micrcomputer Museum
Jon Titus - still experimenting with electronics 
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Museum Bugs
Hi, Dave.

Here's something for your next email newsletter, which I always
look forward to.


In July 1974--40 years ago this July--Radio-Electronics magazine published the "Mark-8 Minicomputer" article written by Jonathan Titus as a construction project for people who might want their own computer. The Radio-Electronics cover showed the Mark-8 as Jon built it while a graduate student at Virginia Tech.

"I just wanted my own computer," said Titus. "As a teenager I built a lot of circuits with 24-volt relays and created a brute-force design for a 4-bit binary adder. I didn't know anything about logic or gates, so I just stuck it out until I had a circuit that worked. It took a lot of relays and 6-pole switches! Later I took some classes on digital-logic integrated circuits and created some projects of my own. Don Lancaster's articles in Popular Electronics provided a lot of inspiration and good ideas. Later in grad school I got to use PDP-8/L minicomputers and realized how cool they were and decided to build my own computer. About then, Intel announced its 4004 microprocessor, which could have worked, but I waited for the 8-bit 8008 and jumped in. Intel provided a complicated design for a computer board, so I took it and adapted that design so my computer had a front panel of LEDs and switches. The home-computer era had arrived."

"People have asked how I chose the name 'Mark-8,'" continued Titus. "Larry Steckler, the editor at Radio-Electronics wanted a name for the computer project, so on the spur of the moment I decided on Mark-8. I used the word 'minicomputer' because many people knew small computers such as the PDP-8, Nova, and others. I didn't think 'microcomputer' would appeal to people and no one thought about a 'personal computer.'"
Jon donated the original Mark-8 Minicomputer to the Smithsonian Institution in the 1980s and it became part
of the long-running "Information Age" exhibit.


All the best.


David Larsen KK4WW
This is a wonderful story about the thoughts and ideas that inspired the MARK 8 Computer.

Thank you Jon for sharing this with our readers. Always good to reminisce about the old times and how "If you believe it you can conceive it"  - great work Jon.

. "by David Larsen" KK4WW Microcomputer Collector/Historian.