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Saturday, April 25, 2015

8008 &8080 - microprocessor -comments about the origin of Intel's first 8 bit micro chips

I have had some interesting emails from Jack Frassanito. Jack was brought into Computer Terminal Corporation (later called Datapoint) along with Vic Poor, Jonathan Schmidt, Harry Pyle and a team of designers, engineers and programmers to create the Datapoint 2200. Footnote 1

All the photos below were sent to me by Jack Frassanito and are part of his intellectual property.

"CLICK" on photo's to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint 2200
CTC's TTL-based desktop personal 8 bit computer, called the Datapoint 2200, was unveiled in 1970, with cassette tapes for 130KB of mass storage and 8K of internal memory.

The first end user sale was to a chicken farmer in the South who programmed the Datapoint 2200 to write payroll checks. You could say a chicken farmer was the first  user of a programmable personal computer.

The Datapoint 2200 in our Museum is a Datapoint 2200 version II and Jack just furnished more information about the version II - Here are his comments.

"Also the instruction set for the 8080 was also a Datapoint II (less two instructions). So not only was the 8008 a Datapoint computer so was the 8080. The story is in the chapter about Datapoint and Intel. The Datapoint II was an order of magnitude faster than the Datapoint I.

Gus and I argued for owning the rights to the microprocessor but at the time it was easer to upgrade the TTL version and by the time the 8080 was available we were working on a much faster processor.

Chapter 12 (Lamont Wood's book) is a good first person account of how the 8080 came about based on the Datapoint II processor design. (Less two instructions). Dave (Dave Monroe at Datapoint) wrote a translator that would run Datapoint software on the 8080 but it never gained any traction with management. Another dumb mistake.

The 8080 was approximately 100 times faster than the 8008. 

This is significant step in function and solidified the microprocessors place in the history computing."
Footnote 4

Video by Datapoint about the 2200 "CLICK"

The 8 bit computer - Datapoint 1100 "CLICK"

"CLICK" on photo's to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint 2200 Patent
"As a named inventor (Jack Frassanito) of the 2200 I also negotiated the original agreement with Bob Noyce of Intel to develop the 8008. It was a fulsome debate at the time and we lost the argument within Datapoint." Footnote 2

Jack is referring to giving up the intellectual rights to the first microprocessor based on the 8 bit computer logic in the 2200. Datapoint  contracted with Intel to design the logic of the 2200 into one chip for $50,000.  However in the end Datapoint agreed to give the rights to Intel and did not pay the $50,000. This became the 8008 microprocessor and launched Intel into the very successful microprocessor business.  

Datapoint gives up right to the 8008 microprocessor - see part of story here "CLICK"

"CLICK" on photo's to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Datapoint 2200 Patent 

Datapoint 2200.
Patent 224,515 dated July 25,1972 - filed November 27th,1970.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Jack Frassanito, J.Phillip Ray  and Gus Roche
Jack Frassanito, J.Phillip Ray  and Gus Roche at Dr.McClure meeting. They produced the Datapoint 2200 computer and their names are on the U. S. Design patent 223,415 filed November 27,1970. Footnote 1

Gordon Peterson Datapoint
Gordon Peterson 
Gordon Peterson 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.

"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." Footnote 3

More info from Gordon Peterson 10-29-15

 I found out about the Datapoint 2200 back about '71-'72, and among other things wrote (in assembler!) a 2200 emulator (which ran Datapoint's Cassette Tape Operating System, CTOS!) that ran on the University's IBM 360/75 mainframe.  ;-)   I showed some of my programs to Datapoint at their booth at the National Computer Conference in Chicago in spring 1974, and by they talked me into moving to San Antonio to work for the company in Software Development.

My first program I wrote there was the REFORMAT utility, and then took over the job of modifying their Disk Operating System to work on the new 25-Mb 2314-type disk drives, and the new 8" floppy diskette drives (and then reworked it for the new 5500 and 6600 series processors).  Wrote several other utilities (and heavily modified many more) and combined the DOS itself and many utilities (and their documentation) into a more cohesive product, which became DOS.B (2200/25Mb), DOS.A (2200/2.5Mb), DOS.C (2200/floppy), DOS.D (5500/25Mb), and DOS.E (5500/2.5Mb).  There was also a DOS.F (5500/floppy), which was never released as a product.

Worked on many other products and internal stuff, including the Partition Supervisor (which could run multiple copies of the DOS on one computer) and then proposed and wrote The ARC System, the world's first commercially available local area network.  That product changed the world of computing forever from monolithic mainframes to modular architectures and incremental expandability.
Footnote 5.

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Story by Lamont Wood

Easy to read text of this article "CLICK"

Story by Lamont Wood. Lamont later wrote the book "Datapoint- The lost Story of the Texans who invented the personal Computer Revolution"

Lamont's book is very interesting and I recommend you read it if you are interested in the first days of the microprocessor and microcomputer revolution.  More information here "CLICK" (Ed S thank you for this link.)

Lamont Wood
Amazon Best  Seller 

Lamont Wood's book "Datapoint- The lost Story of the Texans who invented the personal Computer Revolution" available on Amazon.

My comments about Lamont Woods book.

Information about the Datapoint 1100 "CLICK"

Works cited.
Footnote 1 - Lamont Wood's book "Datapoint- The lost Story of the Texans who invented the personal Computer Revolution" back cover & page 318.
Footnote 2 -This is from email to me from Jack Frassanito Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 3:23 PM.
Footnote 3- This is from email to me from Gordon Peterson.
Footnote 4- Email sent to me Sat, Apr 25, 2015 at 3:19 AM.
Footnote 5- From Comment By Gordon Peterson on this blog a posted October 19,2015.

David G Larsen
David Larsen
The email's from Jack Frassanito and Gordon Peterson gave me some great inside information about the Datapoint 8 bit computer story. I recommend reading Lamont Wood's book - lots of info about the development of the first microprocessor at Intel as well as the Datapoint story.