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    I only got to IBM via the PC. More DEC. But before that uPs. 8008, 8086, cp1600. They all had assemblers of course. But some of the embedded stuff at Plessey was homegrown. I had to tweak binary when there was no disassembler. Well, it was hex usually.
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2015 edited
    Whatever fridge sized box it came in, it would trounced even by today's low end microcontrollers. The kind typically found lurking in toys and home appliances.

    Atmel ATTINY45-20MU
    execution speed: up to 20 MIPS at 20 MHz.
    memory: 4K flash
    dimensions: 4 mm x 4 mm x 0.6 mm
    weight: approx 8 mg (in uQFN package)
    cost: <70 cents each in manufacturing quantity.

    Datasheet (Summary):
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2015 edited
    My first "real" computer job went as follows: "Hi, I'm Don--grab one of the dumps with a PSR stapled to it piled against that wall, and figure out what the problem is. You'll find the OS listings in that rack over there. Have fun."

    MCUs are great, but try driving a bank of 24 300 ips 9-track tape drives with that little AVR. One things that mainframes were very good at was I/O.

    PIC10 MCUs come in 6-pin flavors, so even the ATTiny stuff is overblown. I recall a discussion in EDN about whether it made sense to substitute a small MCU for an NE555. (I don't recall the final verdict--I think it was "it depends").

    Low end MCUs tend not to have lots of RAM and rather crippled architectures. You really don't get into real architectures until you get into ARM or PIC32-type MCUs--or better, MPUs.
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2015 edited
    My first "real" computer job involved installing 16K ram chips into Apple II's and early IBM pc XT's. Also servicing those pesky 5.25 Shugart floppy drives, and video monitors. I also remember the big tape decks and reels of tape. Ten Megabytes per reel, as I recall. Only a few places in my town used them. A sawmill, hospital, and community college. "Personal" computers were rare back then, and I remember being the only person on my street who had his very own. There was a doctor and his large family, who had an Apple II, but they all had to take turns.
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2015
    If Microchip or Atmel made basic devices with upgraded performance such as increased speed and RAM but with dedicated pins or maybe only a couple pin options etc and a manual less than 100 pages long they would sell the crap out of them. There is no fucking way I'm reading these 1500 page monstrosities they have now because each new chip design must have 1000 complex options.
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2015
    Atmel does, and yes, they do sell "the crap" out of them. Some examples:

    Atmega 32U4
    ATXMega 256A3
    Atmel SAM3 series (ARM Cortex-M3 core)

    And no, you won't have to read 1500 page manuals, because they form the heart of Arduino. Plenty of pre written libraries and apps. Best of all, you can write your code in a subset of Processing, which is itself is a variant of the C programming language. Apps are simply uploaded to the chip via USB or serial interfaces. Most code (but not all) will be portable between chips, depending on chip features.
    I built my first radio in 1959. "Hit The Road Jack" was a big hit at the time, and the garage was freezing cold. I used a soldering iron I'd made in metalworking class, which involved trips across the garden into the kitchen to heat up the copper block on the gas stove. Mr. Mason, the only Communist in our street (that I knew about) gave me all the raw materials and helped me out with details of the construction. I was nine years old.
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2015 edited
    Posted By: DerrickABest of all, you can write your code in a subset of Processing, which is itself is a variant of the C programming language.

    Err ... Java, surely.
    • CommentTimeFeb 28th 2016
    A potential replacement for Steorn, but I think it is too extreme to go the distance and it doesn't have an Orbo-babe.
    I am attracted to its flagrant disregard for anything remotely resembling real physics
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2016
    Posted By: Andrew Palfreyman

    To misquote Ev Dirksenn, "A femtowatt here, a femtowatt there, and pretty soon you're taking about real picowatts."

    That nutty Brazilian (RAR Energia) soybean-funded apparatus was supposed to work the same way, but they forgot about friction. Otherwise, it could have generated several nanowatts...
    I don't believe they ever had recourse to Machian mass fluctuations as an explanation, did they?
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2016
    Does anybody?
    yes angus
    Nor did they have recourse to the Cottingley Fairies as an explanation, either. However, there exists more evidence for the Fairies than for Machian mass fluctuations.

    video or it didn't happen.
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2016