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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vintage Computer Univac 8008 Microcomputer - Craig Solomonson collection

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Univac 8008 microcomputer
Craig Solomonson and I had our first correspondence 20 years ago when he offered me one of his Apple-1 computers. I did not purchase that one and it sold recently to Marco Boglione for  $216,000. Craig bought that one from the original owner in Great Falls, Montana and later sold it to a collector in California for $25,000. He in turn sold it on eBay for $50,000 and then it went to Italy.

The Univac 8008 computer Craig has is rare and is most likely the only one in any collection. 

Here are some of Craig's comments about the Univac 8008. Craig's video about this computer. 

David, we corresponded a bit a few years ago about an early Intel SIM8-01 micro system that I had. It seemed to be a relative to your MCB8-10 system. Well, I finally found out the story behind my system….

Update 1-7-16 Craig did a very nice write up last year about this computer system for "The VIP Club" view "CLICK"

 "Click" on photo to enlarge 

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Univac 8008 microcomputer
It was built by the Univac R&D Division in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1972. They were carefully monitoring the developments at Intel with regard to their 4004 and 8008 microprocessors being developed. Part of their research was to construct actual computer systems to research and then build an application using the 8008. They started by building a 4-bit system similar to the one I have using the SIM4-01 and MP7-01 boards. That unit was completed and being demonstrated by March of 1972. They ordered the 8-bit system (SIM8-01 and MP7-02) when it was announced in April of 1972 and construction took place during the summer of 1972. Univac designed and built their own interfaces for these systems and used a Teletype for I/O. The Univac 8008 "8-Bit Micro Computer System" in my collection was complete and being demonstrated to various Univac divisions and military organizations by early fall of 1972.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
I visited with one of the Univac engineers that did some of the programming and he said that only very simple programs were used in demonstrations--like doing simple math operations or it asked for your name, you typed it in on the teletype and it printed some phrase using your name.

Univac spared no expense in developing this system as seen in the construction and fabrication of the cases which are thick, deep red translucent plastic. Not only is it a very aesthetically designed, but it has to be one of the very first 8-bit computers fully assembled and operational. 

Univac 8008 microcomputer
That system has always fascinated me and I figured it had to be one of the earliest 8-bit systems ever assembled. I have gone through several boxes of Univac Engineer log books in the Charles Babbage Institute archives, but so far have not found a log book for the development of this computer. I know that Univac ordered the boards as soon as they were announced and the SIM8-01 board in the computer is a very early one. I also know that it was done and being programmed in the fall of 1972. However, that engineer could not remember when it was actually completed. I think that the engineer who did the actual design and circuitry for the interface is still alive and living in Minnesota, but he will not respond to phone calls or emails. Hopefully I will find another engineer on the project that might remember more details and hopefully dates.

More interesting information:
A video Craig made this month about his collection and the 

1972 Univac 8008 Micro Computer System - One of the First 8-Bit Computers!

 Craig comments "I have a modest collection of early micros and they are shown on my website."

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
 I was very glad to hear from Craig about his Univac 8008 computer. I saw a photo of his 8008 computer several years ago and asked him about it at that time. Now he has a good idea about the origin and the very interesting history about the computer. These very first microcomputer systems are important to preserve and make known to the interested public. 

Thank you - Craig for sharing this information and I hope the blog will help inform people about your unique vintage Univac.
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian