[vcf-midatlantic] VCF's HOPE exhibit

Dan Roganti ragooman at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 12:55:31 EDT 2016

On Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 12:31 PM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> Evan wrote:
>> For the [HOPE] exhibit, I would like to show vintage computer robotics....
>> fix up our HERO....a Minimover arm  can beg/borrow/steal ...We
>> also have a robot kit for the Commodore 64.. Are
>> there any other products we should consider for this exhibit? It should
>> be limited to 70s/80s (assuming there's nothing for the PDP-8!)
>> PS - I found a lot of * computerized * robots -- those with CPUs inside
>> -- but for this exhibit I'd like to focus on robots * connected * to
>> computers, so we can show the computation side of things.
>> end quote.
> Well, a quick comment is: show a PDP-8 with a Calcomp plotter. It's
> robotic, and computational, and "has the additional advantage of being
> true". Minicomputers ran robots in the 70's - that's all they had! for some
> time at least. But you're not gonna haul a minicomputer to HOPE.
> And certainly the HERO and Minimover and items are fine. But I object to
> your notion linking 1970's micros & "robots connected to computers..
> for computation". I'm lecturing deliberately, so you have something to say
> to Hope attendees who would mock what seems like an Arduino on wheels.
> I'll remind you - I mean them - there were many more computers in private
> and small-company hands in the 80's than in the 70's - in the 70's there
> wasn't so much to connect a robot TO. And a micro board kit that ran motors
> STILL cost a few hundred dollars in the 1970's (when that would buy a
> decent used car). But buying a micro board that actually DID something
> physical, not just "blink lights", was a good excuse (to your boss, your
> spouse) to buy a microcomputer board, to learn the technology.
> Also, people in the 70's used such micros to run stuff - I don't know if
> you'd call a sprinkler system a "robot", but it's the same sort of
> "computations" and hardware as to move an arm or drive a motor. And many
> small manufacturers (most WERE small, then) bought single-board
> microcomputers, to run production equipment - a KIM could run a printing
> press for instance.
> here's such a card, from the late 1970's, a small-company product by Lee
> Hart.
> http://www.retrotechnology.com/memship/mem_basys.html
> this could run on solar power! Lee Hart attached motors and switches to
> it, put it in a box, and called it "ITSABOT". I don't have a photo of that
> product. Lee sells the 21st century equivalent board today, as a $89 kit.
> In other words: the 70's was a different world of microprocessors, as the
> 1980's would be a world where microcomputers became accepted. If someone at
> Hope  is disappointed that a cigar-box robot on wheels "just" follows a
> white line and can avoid obstacles; explain that microprocessors  were new
> technology, not cheap, and these devices taught the people who made the
> smarter/cheaper/faster stuff a decade or two later. "People don't mock
> babies for being toddlers", if you want a quicker reply.
> But if Hope is not a venue for such things and such lectures, that's your
> decision, show the Hero, it's pretty impressive for the era.

​Back in the 1970s,
robot projects were already getting popular
And microcomputer revolution is what paved the wave.
I build several of these popular projects while in school in the 70s
But only kept the books,
alas, those robots met their timely demise in the scrap bin[parts donated
to another project]

Beginning with a robot using a discrete TTL computer brain from a popular
David Heiserman, Build your own Work Robot [1978]
And then there was this robot project with a built-in KIM-1
How to build a computer controlled robot by Tod Loofbourrow[1978]
And this continued on in the 80s while taking some robotics courses
Along some of the popular robot kits, we even made our own robot projects.
Simply because it was cheaper buying your own parts
I made one using the traditional R2D2'esc chassis, with an internal 22/44
pin card cage for the various interfaces​.
And one included a brain using only a Timex Sinclair 1000,
and another included a brain using only a RS MC-10
Because the were much smaller than a KIM-1

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