[vcf-midatlantic] VCF's HOPE exhibit

william degnan billdegnan at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 13:41:24 EDT 2016


...a semi-OT reply, a little page I wrote in Nov 2006 before I changed my
web site format.....about finding an old Science and Mechanics magazine
with Robots! on the cover on my way to VCF 9.0 (West, before there was a

I scanned photos (not the best scans) and re-typed the article.


On Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 12:55 PM, Dan Roganti via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> 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
> author,
> David Heiserman, Build your own Work Robot [1978]
> http://www.amazon.com/How-build-computer-controlled-robot-Loofbourrow/dp/0810456818
> And then there was this robot project with a built-in KIM-1
> How to build a computer controlled robot by Tod Loofbourrow[1978]
> http://www.amazon.com/How-build-computer-controlled-robot-Loofbourrow/dp/0810456818
>> 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
> Dan

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