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Re: why i like assembly
To: CRTech <crtech@crtech.org>
Subject: Re: why i like assembly
From: Lamar Owen <lowen@pari.edu>
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2018 11:37:12 -0500
Content-language: en-US
In-reply-to: <a8633f1e-62e3-4c94-6b57-cf27a116de17@reyware.us>
References: <2d7c66e8-840d-579e-5547-1a8b5d86ab12@reyware.us> <6e34922b-b5ee-75b2-6ff5-c6cfe8403d02@pari.edu> <a8633f1e-62e3-4c94-6b57-cf27a116de17@reyware.us>
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On 02/02/2018 08:38 PM, dave allen wrote:
what's a floppy?

...sorry couldn't resist. i've used more than my share of 8" floppies back when everything was on them. OS, data, tools, everything.
... :-)  There's an 8-inch floppy with the LS-DOS 6.3 operating system for the TRS-80 Model II hanging on my corkboard in my office right now.....

These days, most retro computing hobbyists are skipping the floppy disk systems and using either CF cards (parallel ATA-based and easy to work with) or SD cards (SPI isn't too hard to bit-bang on even slower boards like the Arduino).  I draw a distinction between 'vintage' computing and 'retro' (or 'retrobrew') computing there.  A 'retrobrew' project might use an older processor and older tech but it is a completely new design (such as Bill Shen's Tiny68K board: https://www.retrobrewcomputers.org/doku.php?id=boards:sbc:tiny68k ) as opposed to a reproduction of an older (vintage) design (such as my reproduction of the Reh CPU280: https://www.retrobrewcomputers.org/doku.php?id=boards:sbc:cpu280:start ).

The retrobrew scene is a great place for learning modern logic principles (doing something like the socZ80, a complete Z80 CP/M system on an FPGA, or hacking together a Grant Searle multicomp) and can be a great gateway to learning logic design on FPGAs using Verilog, VHDL, or other hardware description language; doing your own retrobrew 6502 could be the gateway to designing a complete PCB from schematic to gerbers for work using those same tools (Eagle for $$$, KiCAD for opensource).  Retro designs and reproduction vintage systems are also great for honing digital system troubleshooting skills with inexpensive equipment, since the clock rates are typically pretty low.  And it is getting easier and easier to get into this hobby.

It is an awesome feeling getting a Fedex package from a PCB manufacturer with professional-quality, silkscreened, ENIG-plated, and solder-masked 2, 4, or even 6-layer plated-through-hole or surface mount printed circuit boards inside that were fabricated from the gerbers that you uploaded to them a week before!  And then when someone else builds your design or reproduction and gets it working....and, in the case of the CPU280, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning a computer running a particular chip, it is a great feeling (not as great as preaching the gospel, but nothing at all in this world compares to preaching the gospel!)

Sorry for rambling, but getting involved in the retrobrew and vintage communities has been a help to my work skills, and a worthwhile investment of a relatively small amount of time.

References: why i like assembly
(dave allen <crtech-mail@reyware.us>, 27 Jan 2018 06:22:53 -0000)
Re: why i like assembly
(Lamar Owen <lowen@pari.edu>, 2 Feb 2018 22:12:43 -0000)
Re: why i like assembly
(dave allen <crtech-mail@reyware.us>, 3 Feb 2018 01:38:40 -0000)
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