Development on a CRT

The biggest leap forward in software development for me was the shift to a development station consisting of a keyboard and a CRT (it was a custom unit produced by Intel in the days before the PC was in existance). It seems to me they cost several thousand dollars. As best I recall the first ones I used were large dark blue boxes that included a slot for a 8″ floppy disk. The marvel was that one could make changes to the assembly (mnemonic) code and reassemble without having to repeat all the steps. If the assembler detected errors you could see them at once and it was a much simpler matter to make a fix or two and immediately re-assemble to see if everything was OK. On top of that the magnetic storage was so much easier and quicker than punched tape. Continue reading


Those of us old folks who got in on the start of embedded controllers can remember when small-room-sized computers started to have competition from Minicomputers. They were built of multiple circuit boards in an enclosure about the size of a large microwave oven and were the first computers to be uksed for more control-related applications.The computing was done with core chipsets that were 4-bits wide (extremely low level of integration by today’s standards, but the available technology drove the applications). If you wanted a 12-bit processor you laid out 3 sets of processor chips (or 4 sets for 16-bit processing) on circuit boards.

About that time Intel and Motorola (and was it Fairchild and RCA?) began to develop more highly integrated ICs that held more of the processor on a single chip, called microprocessors. Continue reading

Revising a very old web site

Cleaning Up!

I have finally gotten a way to access my old web information and will shortly include the original information as well as a blog/comment thread. I have fixed the ancient links that no longer lead to the right supplier pages. I may even some day get to finishing the answers to the book questions!

Talk to me

I have no feedback about my book–who is buying it, what they think of it, and what is most useful. I encourage you…if you have an interest in 8051-family development…to comment here. I have plans to regularly blog about the history of embedded micro development (you wouldn’t believe how ancient I am) as well as posting comments that were not suitable to the book itself. The only feedback I get these days is the sales numbers from the printer (a few tens of copies each month), so I “covet” your comments. Continue reading