Thursday, December 31, 2015

James (Nick) Cloyes – N4CL visit's computer museum

James Cloyes N4CL attend one of my workshops 40 years ago and visited the museum Dec 23.
Workshop, Virginia Tech
David Larsen Teaching Digital Workshop 1975
A few days ago I received a reply to our inquiry form at the Bugbookcomputermuseum web site from  James Cloyes N4CL.  The Blacksburg Group taught many microcomputer workshops in the 70's,80's and early 90's and it is alway good to hear from participants of these courses. The letter was interesting for  me and perhaps you will find it a good read.

Nick's letter
Hi David:  I attended a one week Bugbook course at VPI, Blacksburg, VA in either 1975 or 1976 (not too sure of the date). The course was a wonderful beginning in digital electronics for me. At that time, I had several years of experience in analog electronics and was in a good position for learning. I remember receiving the coursework package in the mail about one week before the class started I was impressed that the coursework was sent early, showing good planning.
David larsen ,KK4WW
Bugbooks & Outboards
I was very excited to receive a breadboard with little circuit boards such as a clock, switch, seven segment readout, and others. The package included Bugbook I, and Bugbook II. I believe Bugbook III was not finished at that time. Also included were several 7400 series TTL ICs.
I can remember clearing airport security with the package which included a lantern battery. Airport security showed some curiosity, but after an explanation, let me pass. It is humorous to think what today’s security reaction would be if they saw all those things today.
I stayed at the Donaldson Center while attending the course. I believe that was prearranged and it seemed unusual to me to stay on campus. This again showed good planning by the instructors.
The course was fast paced and required lots of homework at night. I remember discussing ham radio with you. Since you and Jon Titus had chemistry backgrounds, I found it very easy to talk with both of you. There were lots of handouts such as uart programming and serial transmission.
After class on one of the days, Chris Titus gave a lecture on the 4004 microprocessor instruction set. After seeing that, along with the TTL logic of the course, I was set on fire. Digital electronics was much more exciting than analog, because you could build circuits with little knowledge of the IC internal circuity. Analog electronics required a person to understand a lot of theory.
After finishing the course, I built many small projects using TTL circuits. Some were related to Ham Radio, and others were related to computers. I intended to build a Z80 microprocessor from scratch and obtained all the necessary chips. After building an electronic keyer on a circuit board, I gave up on building the computer, because of the difficulty I had with printed circuits.
As soon as my finances allowed, I purchased a TRS80 Model I Level II computer with an editor/assembler and built several interfaces and projects. At the same time, a HP1000 was purchased for the lab at my employment. I was the lab supervisor, and I became system manager of that computer system.
After being in the lab for about 18 years, I took a systems engineer position with the same company and worked in computers the rest of my career.
I have enjoyed my career and found it to be very interesting. The Blacksburg Bugbook course gave me a wonderful start in electronics and computers. I am retired now, and I still and always will have a great interest in computers and electronics.
I am privileged to have had full training in DEC PDP/VAX and Microsoft. Without a doubt, the most interesting course I had, was the Blacksburg Bugbook course. It served as a foundation to all future learning.
You and all the people associated with that course are to be commended for producing such an impressive course.

James (Nick) Cloyes – N4CL

kk4ww n4cl n4usa
David Larsen - Nick Cloyes

David Larsen (L) curator and KK4WW
on the Right - Nick Cloyes N4Cl

kk4ww n4cl
David Larsen - Nick Cloyes

David Larsen - Nick Cloyes in the Bugbook Computer Museum, Floyd Virginia


David Larsen
I always love to hear from people in the past that benefited from our work in STE education. James sent another note that he would like to visit over the Christmas holiday. I hope he is able to made the trip to Floyd for a visit to the museum. James is now scheduled to visit the 23nd of Dec. 
."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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