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 [ 5 posts ] 
 Wozniak and Fernandez' Cream Soda machine 
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Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
I found a rare photo of the first computer built by Steve Wozniak, with his friend William Fernandez. It appears in Stan Augartner's rather good illustrated history "Bit by bit" and can be seen in context here (credit to Bill Traynor for finding this link.)
Quote:
In 1971, Wozniak and a close friend, William Fernandez, built a small 8-bit computer made out of logic ICs. Fernandez (above left) holds the computer in his hand.


Wozniak describes the machine here:
Quote:
The cream soda computer was before useful microprocessors so I created the processor itself out of TTL chips. This was an era where shift registers, counters, ALU’s were around in 4-bit flavors. In the end, I added chips to play with this simple 8-bit processor, just like the Altair, although I had no expansion bus that I can remember. The start was to create an instruction set. I used two common 4-bit ALU chips, I think. The minimal processor of this sort needed some arithmetic commands and at least one branch-on-condition. I created instructions that were either arithmetic between the one register and memory, and at least one branch or zero or branch on overflow instruction. Not much more as I recall. I was able to enter a program which took a 4-bit number in the lower 4 switches and multiply it by a 4-bit number in the higher 4 switches and display the result in 8 LED’s. But inputting code bit by bit wasn’t super useful. Still, it did work and was a good prelude to my thinking 5 years later with the Apple I and Apple ][ computers. You always move forward and the world of hobby computing was being born around devices not much more than my cream soda computer. Oh, and my computer had 256 bytes of static RAM in 8 chips I got from Intersil.


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Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:51 pm

Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:03 am
Posts: 285
Location: California
Wow, where's the "Like" button? I always find these quotes humorous (this is from the second link above):
Quote:
Woz demonstrated the board to an enthusiastic Homebrew audience and then tried to interest Hewlett-Packard, his employer, in making personal computers. However, the company doubted there was much of a market for the machine.

It's like the earlier quote where someone estimated there would be a world market for about six computers.

The article ended with the IBM PC's popularity but didn't tell that the most-sold computer in history was the C64. A boss's friend had an Apple II in those early years, and another friend thought it was childish and said he'd wait 'til Big Blue introduced a desktop computer. They did, and it weighed something like 40 pounds and people thought, "Now that is a real compuer!" (never mind what it could or could not do). He bought it. After he got familiar with it, he saw his friend using Apple Works, and never criticized the Apple again.

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Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:04 am WWW

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
I saw the picture in a very good illustrated history of computing from 1984. Publishing being what it is, the C64 had probably not made much of an impact at the time the book was written. Commodore gets a mention as a computer manufacturer, probably with the PET in mind. The whole book, as it turns out, is available in at least two places on the web. Somehow the web pages are less attractive than the book, to me. The page I've linked is the final substantive chapter - there's a wrapup chapter after it. Recommended if you like computer history - it's not comprehensive but is very readable: Bit by Bit, Stan Augartner. As discovered in the bibliography of Code, Charles Petzold, which I haven't yet read - I might yet do.

The nice thing about the Cream Soda Computer is that it's a homebrew CPU, from the last years when that was the only way. And Woz himself was a big part of getting the microprocessor into microcomputers for the home market.


Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:26 am

Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:03 am
Posts: 285
Location: California
I saw a computer history book years ago in a local used book store, and wanted it but thought the price was too high and I didn't buy it. Later I decided it would be worth it and I went back. The store had changed hands though, and the new owner had no understanding of the significance of anything related to computers that was outdated, and got rid of all those books. I couldn't believe it. That's what history is about!!

_________________
http://WilsonMinesCo.com/ lots of 6502 resources


Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:23 am WWW

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
Seize the moment!
We've got a sort of Computer History Book Club going on here.


Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:28 am
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