[time-nuts] Help - Hope?

Mike Feher mfeher at eozinc.com
Tue Jan 3 12:29:24 EST 2006

I remember as a teenager in the early '60s getting DEC catalogs. They were
really comprehensive. Regardless, I was never able to build a computer from
their literature. I think the basic concept for the computer I described
previously was inspired by an article in Popular Electronics. - Mike

Mike B. Feher, N4FS
89 Arnold Blvd.
Howell, NJ, 07731

-----Original Message-----
From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
Behalf Of Chuck Harris
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2006 11:18 AM
To: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Help - Hope?

Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:
> In message <43BA78B7.8070000 at erols.com>, Chuck Harris writes:
>> If a kid wants to work in this arena, he will.  You ought to see the mass
>> equipment my son access to (that he ignores completely).
> I don't think the question if there is a barrier as much as to what
> the height of it is.

Well, I was a teen when TTL logic started to make its debut.  I wanted
to make a computer, so I had a barrier I had to scale first.  I needed
to know what TTL chips were available, and what they could do.  Texas
Instruments helped me with that by sending me a complimentary data book.
Then I had to know how a computer worked.  That was tougher, because
the books I could find in the library only gave a brief hand wave to
how a computer functioned.  DEC sent me their fine series on the PDP8,
and even still, it took the better part of a year before I figured out
what must be going on, and designed my own micro programmed CPU.  I couldn't
build it though, because it would have cost me more than $1000 in parts,
and I had no way, other than a front panel, to get data into or out of
the CPU.  And I had nothing other than a simple logic probe to test
out my design...

So tell me, with the advent of the internet, how are today's hurdles
higher than what I had to conquer?

I can find full information on how to assemble circuitry using surface
mount technology.  I can find full datasheets on virtually any chip that
exists, or ever existed.  I can find full programming information on
every microprocessor out there, and I can get free software to program
the chips, make the PCB's, and even simulate the result.  And to top
it all off, I can get a prototype run of boards made for less than $50!

All of the information I needed to make my first CPU exists on the net
as program files for PLA's that can be programmed using the parallel port
on a PC... Oh yeah, and everyone has a PC...

 From my perspective, things are much easier for the electronics hobbyist
today than they have ever been before.


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