[vcf-midatlantic] Homebrew Computer Systems from Bob the donor

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Thu Jun 24 16:58:37 UTC 2021

Thanks for the back story about "Bernie S paid a visit" and the computer 
brought to the repair workshop "for Dmitry".

So now that Dmitry has the back story, what's his/her plan for the 
remains? It would be nice from my view, if the computer remains could at 
least be physically reassembled to preserve some kind of history of that 
kind of construction. I don't think they can be made to work again, nor 
need they be in my opinion. (The Apple II clone is in another, later 
category but of the same kind.)

But if Dmitry plans to just use the parts - which is of course up to 
them -  then it's good to have preserved  the narrative and technical 
history at least. I have a Web site for the stories and tech I preserve.

For those who think this looks awful, well, this is how we built 
microprocessor computers at home. In the earliest days, there just 
weren't' any "computers" to build, just micro processors or at best 
$1000 development systems or $300 development boards. In the mid-1970's, 
you could buy a *new car* for a few thousand dollars; $300 was an 
apartment's monthly rent.

And, there weren't many single-chip functions - like "a floppy 
controller chip". So one board equaled one function. And floppy drives 
were expensive too. Most early computers used either paper-tape, or 
cassettes. And that worked fine for the small programs in use.

These weren't built for looks, they were built for function. Many of the 
builders were learning as they went. Some were designing as they went, 
and as new chips became available. Getting them to work was an achievement.

So, in my experience from the era: the 6502 computer when built, was an 
example of the time, early and certainly not common. The Apple II 
add-ons, was a thing that some people did, building on an available 
computer board. Using an 8-track drive for data is kinda scary, but it's 
a plausible extension of cassette data drives.

But, once microcomputers got relatively affordable or were "cloned" 
cheaply, these hand-wired computers got shelved. When the technology 
advanced, these became less and less "functionally useful". So most were 
parted out or dumped. Since they were all unique, and didn't have that 
mass-produced designer look; they became cryptic, unfamiliar.

That's why you don't see them much today, 40 years later. And time 
passed, is why work like this needs an explanation.

Regards, Herb

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT comcast DOT net

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