Vol. 1, #4, June 7, 1975
“IT’S A HOBBY”
Yes, a hobby for fun. Interest in home computing is spreading fast. I feel our club is doing a good job in supporting the individual experimenter get his or her system up and flying. There are a lot of obstacles, bugs, and technical tricky problems which can frustrate and discourage a person alone. By sharing our experience and sharing tips we advance the state of the art and make low cost home computing possible for more folks.
Bring your beast in for a demo! Can it sing or play games? What tricks does it know? Let’s have a look at it.
Thanks to Ray and Karen for demonstrating his 008A Microcomputer with audio cassette adapter at the May 14th meeting. Using an 8008 microprocessor, the 008A is available as a kit ($375) from RGS Electronics 3650 Charles St. Suite K, Santa Clara, Ca. Recently Ray got Jerry’s TVTypewriter I working nicely.
Thanks to Gordon for bringing and explaining his text editing system May 28th. The system’s beauty is the ease with which one can look into 16K of storage and find what’s there to be re-arranged as you please. The only thing I missed in playing REVERSE on it were the bells congratulating me when I’d won. A computer game without bells is like a steam engine without a whistle!
A special thanks to Wayne for bringing the club a paper tape version of a Fortran IV cross assembler for the 8008 and PL/M on mag tape, and two listings of the resident 8080 and 8008 assemblers. The club now has a responsibility to use this software in a non-profit manner, which means no private or commercial deals. If you have a system large enough to house a copy of the mag tape and can make access available to the rest of the members, contact Gordon French.
Wayne also brought a TV terminal Intel developed two years ago as a demonstration unit. The unit uses a 4004 microprocessor and has both a character and a plot mode (5 x 7 dot square you can move around). Wayne hooked it up to a TV and tuned it on the edge of channel 6. The current ROM gave us our choice of tic-tac-toe or tennis. We played both.
At the previous gathering Wayne had suggested using a shadow ROM for bootstrapping when you first turn on your computer. This time on request he drew a schematic on the greenboard, but I don’t think many of the less technically oriented among us followed his explanation completely. Which brings me to a general observation. The club is quite a mixed group. We are composed of outright novices to top flight professionals and leaders in the industry. Many are somewhere in between. Only a few of us are strong in both hardware and software.
It seems to me, we need classes or some more patient and detailed means of conveying information across and ignorance gap, and at the same time not bore the more experienced among us. I think our size is large enough now that after meeting as a whole from say 7 to 9 pm, we then break into three or four small groups for more educationally oriented discussions for an hour. Anyone have comments on this? Perhaps there is enough learning taking place as it is and any attempt to organize it further will upset the relaxed informality of the gatherings. Comments?
Thanks to John Draper for setting up a group library account for the club at Call Computer. Those who have accounts, have your number changed to a K-2?? number. If we have enough join, the club won’t be charged the $5.00 monthly base rate. (We also pay 63 cents per thousand characters on file per month.) The intention is to have useful programs stored in the K-200 library file.
Thanks to Dan for testing the 2102’s the group purchased from Solid State Music. Thanks to Lenny and Frank for setting up the auditorium for our use. Much thanks and appreciation to everyone for your time, energy, and spirit in making the club what it is.
The MITS Mobile came to Rickey’s Hyatt House in Palo Alto June 5th and 6th. The room was packed (150+) with amateurs and experimenters eager to find our about this new electronic toy. The evidence is overwhelming the people want computers, probably for self-entertainment and educational usage. Why did the Big Companies miss this market? They were busy selling overpriced machines to each other (and the government and military). They don’t want to sell directly to the public. I’m all in favor of the splash MITS is having with the Altair because it will do three things: (1) force the awakening of other companies to the demand for low-cost computers for use in the home, which will mean competition, resulting in lower prices just as happened with the hand held calculator. (2) cause local computer clubs and hobby groups to form to fill the technical knowledge vacuum. (3) help demystify computers. Computers are not magic. And it is important for the general public to begin to understand the limits of these machines and that humans are responsible for the programming.