Friday, November 19, 2004
Welcome to 8bitsunplugged.blogspot.com
Why old technology and new ideas? Several reasons... First, many of us who have been in this industry for 25 or 30 years are beginning to look back on all the developments over those years and are realizing that there were several key moments in time, pieces of technology, or products that defined an era in computing.
Many of those pieces of technology or products lie at the bottom of land fills today. Others are just being recognized for their significance and are starting to be dusted off and collected, initially by those of us who have a sentimental connection with some of the first machines we were able to call "our own".
The second reason is the low cost of this old technology. Atari, Commodore, and Apple ][ computers can often be had for less that $10 on eBay and make a great starter for learning machine language programming or for just hardware hacking.
A third reason, and I think one that leads to much of the interest in vintage computers, is because technology advancement is moving so fast, many of the older computers never reached the potential of their full capabilities. Many of us moved on to MS DOS and Windows long before we had exhausted the possibilities of our old favorite Apple ][, Atari, TRS-80 or Sinclair computers.
The final reason I see, and one interesting to me as an electronics hobbyist, is the apparent resurgence in the basic microprocessor. I'm not talking about the 64 bit Itaniums and the like, but rather, the explosion of embedded processors and microcontrollers on the market. The 8-bit CPU is finding a new home in everything from your dishwasher to your vacuum cleaner. These are simple processors usually dedicated to performing a single task.
MicroChip PIC's, Zilog Z8, ARM, Parrallax Basic Stamp, and many others are filling this space. One of the most interesting and powerful of these is the Z8. It is one of my favorites because it still compatible with Z80 source code from the 70's and early 80's. The basic stamp is simple to use and a lot of fun too. Many have equated the power of the Basic Stamp to an "Apple ][ on a chip". What's more, most of these microcontroller chips cost less than $15!
This site is dedicated to fans of old computers, hobbyists, and engineers who appreciate the power and simplicity of yesterday's and today's 8 bit microprocessors/microcontrollers, or who just like tinkering with vintage technology!
Posted by wkr at 3:56 PM