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4.09Mhz Built from the ground up Mini-brew MicroComputer


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I *really* don't know where to put this, but since this seems TOTALLY retro, you GOTTA see this. This guy built his own machine without ANY Prefabbed CPU. Just TTL and LOTSA wire-wrap. This just screams GEEK. But it's the coolest thing I have seen.

 

check it out:

Magic-1 Minix Computer using nothing but Wire-Wrap and TTL at 4.09Mhz and 4MB RAM

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yeah, that is along the lines of the Replica-1, but not quite. the guy designed the WHOLE system by himself and DIDN'T make a clone. That's the kind of spirit I like to see today among computer engineers. They may understand some of the concepts, but I think most people that work in the field don't understand that when they work on their little part (putting a Logic Board together vs designing the WHOLE Thing + the CPU) they are only doing a little part of what the pioneers did back in the 60's/70's/80's. It was remarkable, because it was the small people that brought our major machines to us today

 

Sadly, today it's just a knock-off of cheap clones. While it makes it easier for us to get parts and put the final pieces together, the magic is kinda lost when it comes to not knowing the ins and the outs of a computer. Systems have become so complex, that they dumb it down for the rest of us.

 

I will admit, my knowledge of Logic gates and electricity and binary is limited, but All I know how to do is put tab-A into Slot-B. I would LOVE to do something like that guy did, but he had an advantage during that time, and will probably not pass that knowledge down to the people of our generation.

 

But still, a VERY cool project on not only showing the spirit of homebrew is alive today, but it also shows up how bloated systems have become and how much we have to invest to run the latest and greatest. Since most of what I do on the net is IRC and browsing forums, i could probably use an older Pentium with DSL (Damn Small Linux) and run with a CLI-only interface. I can do almost all of my online browsing with that. Heck! I have a small Browser for my Palm m515 that I can use to access the net!!! and it works great!!

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I have wanted to do something like this for years.

 

I started on the ISA a few years ago but never finished. The documents are in my archive but this is what I remember.

 

I called it a RRISC design. Ridiculously Reduced Instruction Set Computing.

 

The processor only had a hand full of instruction and could only work with integers.

 

Only 2 arithmetic operators.

ADD and SUBTRACT. Don't need any others as most math can be done with these 2 operations

 

Only 2 logical instructions

NAND and NOR. As all logical operations can be done with these 2 operations.

 

There was a move, jump, and jump greater than. I think that was all. There might have been a 8th instruction. I don't remember. It also had a fairly small address space. In fact it used a single level storage type addressing. The registers, memory, and I/O all used the same address space.

 

Performance would be crap but it would be a very simple design.

 

Now that I understand computer architecture a lot better I would do it differently. I think I would build the above design first just to get past a few of the technical hurtles.

 

I might then go on to build a RISC design processor, however my ultimate goal would be a very CISC design. The Processor would be object aware and would work on objects directly. That would be a lot of work though, but it would be cool.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think this is awesome.

 

coius - if you want to learn it, learn it. You're right that today's computers are far too complex for one person to know everything about every component, but you can still learn fundamentally how it all works. The information is out there. It's pretty cool, IMO.

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Ahh... I love this stuff. It makes me wish I was around when this stuff was novel. I find myself going through the home brew cpu webring that the MAGIC 1 belongs to sometimes just for kicks, even though there's rarely anything new.

 

For some reason I have a constant urge to build things from the ground-up and from scratch to ridiculous ends. For instance, I was looking up potato plastic instructions a while ago, and I remember that it needed glycerin at some point, so I decided

 

"glycerin? I'll just make some home made soap and get my glycerin from that!"

 

which moved on to

 

"Lye? I'll go make me some charcoal, and I'll find a barrel, and..."

 

anyhow, I think that highlights it pretty well.

 

Point is, though, I would really love to make my own computer, and the finer the resolution of design the better. I think it would be -really- neat to build a CPU using raw TTL... or maybe even DTL... that would be psycho. failing that, though, I would really like to build my own system around an ARM of some sort. I'm in love with RISC, mostly because I've worked on an OS for x86 PCs and that processor is simply ludicrous. simple, fast processors FTW.

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Haha, yessss...

 

Um... I've actually thought about getting some silica sand and following the method that was in pop sci how 2.0 a while ago for extracting the pure silicon out of it and then finding a way to dope it from phosphorous from light bulbs or something and aluminum somehow to make my own semis. It's a sickness, I tell you!

 

DIY relays, all aside, is actually a pretty cool idea. It'd be one nasty mess though. But really you'd just need some solid core copper wire (check) and some nails. hmm... Perhaps this is a feasible cheap project I should look at? I'd need to find a cheap spring-back mechanism, though. maybe the springs out of bic clickeys, but I don't really have a bunch of those right now and it'd be pretty neat to build something functional out of parts I've just got lying around the house.

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