RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling
2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed
formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit
design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at
the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps
while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got
Mail" when a new message arrived...
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I love this quote by UK engineer James Newman:
"I just got suckered into it bit by bit." This story about Mr. Newman's effort to build
a 16-bit computer using discrete components appeared in Popular Science magazine.
Newman wanted to create a functional, programmable computer that would provide a visual
indication of how data flow and computation occurs within a microprocessor; the result
is his "Megaprocessor." To
do that, he constructed this 10-meter-long by 2-meter-tall rack of circuits consisting
of more than 40,000 discrete transistors (for creating the logic gates). An Intel 8086
microprocessor has ~29,000 transistors by comparison. He estimates he has invested about
$50k (US) and about four years in the project. Visual keys as to its operation come from wiring
an LED at the input and output of every gate - about 10,000 in all. The end result is
a machine that looks a lot like the futuristic computers used as props in early science
fiction shows like Star Trek. Until I saw Mr. Newman's discrete component computer running, I used to dismiss
the blinking lights on Mr. Scott's instrument panels as a hokey attempt at representing
computer activity, but now I see it in a different light (pun intended).
To date, the only programs written for the computer are the games of Tetris and
Tic-Tac-Toe. A home-built joy stick provides user input. Mr. Newman hopes that a
museum will want The Megaprocessor for use in a children's discovery exhibit as a
motivation for future computer engineers and programmers.
You can read and see many photos on James' the
James Newman Built This
16-Bit Computer with 40,000 Discrete Transistors
Incredibly, some morons have left nasty comments on the YouTube page criticizing
him for wasting time on such a "useless" endeavor. What a bunch of slugs there are in
Posted December 8, 2017
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