Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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

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 .

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.

 I purchased 6 of the Micro 68 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 .

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

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