By Zbigniew Stachniak
In may perhaps 1973, Micro machine Machines, a Toronto-based electronics corporation, gave a public demonstration of a small desktop known as the MCM/70. Powered through a microprocessor and operated with APL, a worldly programming language, the MCM/70 used to be located to be a pragmatic, reasonable, and easy-to-use laptop - the first actual of its sort. Inventing the computer info the discovery and layout of the MCM/70 laptop and the lengthy fight to deliver it to industry. Zbigniew Stachniak deals an insider's view of occasions at the entrance traces of pioneering paintings on own desktops. He indicates what info and concepts computing device pioneers had, how good they understood what they have been doing, and the way that figuring out - or lack thereof - formed either their engineering ingenuity and the indecisiveness and over-reaching ambition that will finally flip a truly promising enterprise right into a ignored chance. delivering entire ancient history and wealthy photographic documentation, Inventing the computer tells the tale of a Canadian corporation at the state of the art of the data age.
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Additional resources for Inventing the PC: The MCM/70 Story
4 Soon afterward, the software group started to port a subset of APL into the prototype’s EPROM s. Laraya vividly remembered some of the first computations done on the prototype. The first time we did a calculation [on the prototype] … it took forever to crunch out the number. You could see it [a long computation] happening on the workspace too, because, at one point, we were using the display area [allocated in R AM] as a temporary workspace … because we were so tight on R AM . You could see the numbers rolling up and down on the screen.
In 1971, at a cost of, say, $12 a chip, that would add up to $3,000 – or the equivalent of a new Ford Grande Mustang with a vinyl top and a Grande logo beside the rear window! One of the early Intel bestsellers – the 2102 R AM chip, which would be eventually employed in the MCM /70 – had a memory capacity of four 1101 chips. 8 There were other problems: external storage, display, and APL software. Of course, the biggest gamble of the enterprise was the assumption that the 8008 microprocessor, or one of its successors, if ever developed, would be able to reliably support all the functions of Kutt’s computer.
In one of his 1972 memos he writes: “FRED is an exciting new consumer product possibility. For the first time, a full power electronic computer could be available at the price of a hi-fi system or colour T V. ”6 The low cost of FRED was to be achieved by designing its hardware around the single-chip FRED microprocessor, using an ordinary T V set as the display monitor and an audio cassette player to store and retrieve data and programs. 5, and FRED 2 existed only as prototypes, and, outside of RCA , only Weisbecker’s daughters had the opportunity to use some of them in their home.