A couple of months ago I was introduced to Richard Grafton, who hails from the United Kingdom. Richard currently works as a freelance technology consultant designing and making creative things for his clients. Richard is also the founder of ARITH-MATIC, where he creates and sells some very tasty 4-bit computer subsystem boards based on classic 7400-series integrated circuits.
I have to say that I love the “look-and-feel” of Richard’s work, such as the black boards and the red LEDs and the red tactile switches. Although its unnecessary, functionality-wise, I also appreciate the fact that all the resistors are aligned the same way, which is just the way I’d do it.
Of course, I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “How about doing a Steampunk version of your boards?” To which Richard replied, “Now, there’s an idea!” Sad to relate, I fear he was just humoring me, which means the only way I’m going to lay my sticky fingers on Steampunk boards is if I build them myself.
Earlier this month, Richard emailed me to say that he’d just caught up with my musings on our 4-Bit HRRG Computer project. He noted that he’d found the columns on the Instruction Set and Instruction Tradeoffs to be of particular interest, because he’d just finished building a 4-bit 7400 CPU to take to the Retro Computer Festival, which was to be held the Museum of Computing in Cambridge that coming weekend.
As Richard said, “It’s indeed an interesting challenge cramming everything into 16 instructions, although I’ve seen some quite creative variations on this!”
The reason for my meandering musings here is that Richard just emailed me to say that he’s uploaded this video of his little beauty, which he calls the Cambridge-1, to YouTube.
Richard also tells me that he’s started writing up this project, with details of the CPU now appearing on his Cambridge-1 Github page. Also, he’s posted this blog on his ARITH-MATIC site covering the genesis of the Cambridge-1 and its trip to the Retro Computer Festival.
As you may know, I bounce over to England once or twice a year to visit my dear old mom. On the last Friday before I return home, a bunch of my techno-geek chums travel from around the country to congregate at my brother’s house.
We spend the day showing off our latest creations while my mother provides appropriate ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ sound effects as required, and then we spend the evening quaffing beer furiously (quaffing is like regular drinking, except you tend to spill more down your chest).
Happily, Richard has agreed to join our merry band on my next trip. I’m sure he’ll be bringing the Cambridge-1 with him, and I’m equally sure that we’ll all spend an inordinate amount of time watching it perform its magic. Yes, of course I will take pictures and write it all up in a blog — it will be just as good as being there (unless you are one of the ones who is actually there, of course).
The 10K pull up resistors bring back memories. In the mid 70s there was a shortage of 10K resistors (I have no clue as to why and if it was only in South Africa) so I converted everything to 12K pull-ups, and I seem to have stuck with that to this day, albeit in SMD.
As I remember it happened in Australia as well. 10K was a typical value suggested by the chip makers in their data sheets, so everyone used it. As a pullup resistor on a chip function eg a logic gate, the value was low enough to not produce a voltage drop due to the input leakage current, & was high enough to keep power consumption down if say the gate input was being driven by a switch to 0V.
So when confronted by the long lead times for 10K resistors, the natural move was to 12K, as we all did.
Now we are starting to sound like a bunch of old men sitting round a fire talking about wind, rain, snow, and ice storms in the past… “Ah, the great 10K resistor shortage of ’73” and “I still remember the horror of the 22nF capacitor drought of ’75” and “who could forget the 82 uH inductor dearth of ’82″…
It also reminds me of “The Great Storm” sketch in “The Vicar of Dibley”: https://bit.ly/2mkzyGf
There is also the Four Yorkshiremen sketch
Interesting to see young Marty Feldman, John Cleese and Graham Chapman
Remade by Monty Python
Since I am a Yorkshireman, this sketch is particularly poignant — made more so by the fact that I anticipate the forthcoming duck-feeding extravaganza with my chum Jogn will essentially be our own “Two Yorkshiremen” re-enactment ( https://www.clivemaxfield.com/on-mushrooms-socks-and-ducks/ )
Well there was certainly the great i2716 (Intel’s 2Kx8 5V EPROM) shortage of ‘78
I thought we agreed we were never going to talk about that!
Snoopy is a world-renowned quaffer of root beer.
He is also a world-renowned writer, just like me: https://www.gocomics.com/peanuts/1985/09/20
Those immortal words spawned a contest:
I know — I love that contest — as I wrote on the first page of my book “Bebop to the Boolean Boogie (An Unconventional Guide to Electronics)” (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1856175073):
The phrase “It was a dark and stormy night…” is actually the opening sentence to an 1830 book by the British author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. A legend in his own lunchtime, Bulwer-Lytton became renowned for penning exceptionally bad prose, of which the opening to his book PAUL CLIFFORD set the standard for others to follow.
For your delectation and delight, the complete opening sentence of Bulwer-Lytton’s masterpiece was: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents– except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
Actually, Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) was a very popular writer in his day, coining such phrases as “the great unwashed,” “pursuit of the almighty dollar,” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” However, he may well have fallen into obscurity along with so many of his contemporaries if it were not for the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University.
“It was a dark and stormy night…” is now generally understood to represent an extravagantly florid style with redundancies and run-on sentences, and the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was formed to “celebrate” the worst extremes of this general style of writing. Over the years, the contest has gained international attention and now attracts 10,000 or more entries a year.
I once applied myself, but never won anything (sad face). What? You want to see it? Well, all you had to do was ask. My entry to the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is shown below, but before you peruse my humble offering, let’s remind ourselves that the point of this contest is to write a single sentence representing the worst-possible (although grammatically-correct) opening sentence for a hypothetical fictional book; now read on…
As the hours passed, the expressions on the partygoers’ faces became increasingly bemused and bewildered as my mother —having grabbed the conversational reins with gusto and abandon using one of her classic opening gambits of “I bumped into Mrs. Forteskew-Smythe at the fishmongers the other day…”— proceeded to inundate the gathered throng with a myriad of seemingly innocuous and unrelated details “…you remember, she was the oldest of three sisters; the youngest, Beryl, was a slut, while the middle girl eloped with a transsexual Australian taxidermist and they had two sons who couldn’t bring themselves to touch any form of fruit, and…” and I could see the question forming in everyone’s minds: “Can she possibly tie all of these tidbits of trivia together and somehow bring this tortuous tale to a meaningful close?” … and I cowered against the wall wearing a tight, grim smile because I knew, to my cost, that she could.
Thanks for the link, Max. –Rand (hackaday.io)
I live to serve 🙂