Let me try this again

From: Doug Coward <mranalog_at_attbi.com>
Date: Sun Jan 6 11:18:37 2002

  Hi All,
  Last week I was looking for someone to host
some Data I/O manuals. Sorry about that, I had no
idea that they were already on the web. I thought
they were created by the person that gave them to

  So now I have some scanned pages that someone
might want to host. I believe that these are pretty
rare and kind of historic. And again I want to get
them out there to be a part of the Great Record and
not be misplaced here in the Great Pile.
  And as before, let me know if these are already
available somewhere else.

  Now the story.
  Well about 8 years ago I was in my favorite Bay
Area electronic surplus store - Mike Quinn Electronics.
At the time, they were still in the Quonset hut at
Oakland Airport. I bought a pile of books and
manuals. And when I got home I discovered among
the books 3 handwritten and xeroxed, double-sided
sheets stapled together entitled "MINI-MINI COMPUTER".
The six pages described the design of a computer
built using four core planes from an IBM 1401.
At the time it was written, these core planes were
available from Mike Quinn's for less than $9 each.
  The pages had no date on them, just the author's
name and address. In 1999 I decided to track down
this Hal A. Chamberlin Jr.
  Hal (I learned) is the author of the well regarded
book "Musical Applications of Microprocessors". And
I DON'T KNOW, but maybe the same Hal that started
"The Computer Hobbyist".

I contacted Hal in 1999 (at the time he was in
Korea) and this is some of what he said:
---------- Start Quote --------------------------
> I'm searching for a Hal Chamberlin that at one time
> lived at 123 Ashe Ave. Raleigh, N.C.
> I'm trying to track down information about the
> Thank you for your time,

Hi, you've reached me. Where in the world did you
find that address? That's where I lived when going
to North Carolina State University junior and senior
years! Right now I'm living in Korea but will be
back in the 'States in a bit less than a year.

The "MINI-MINI COMPUTER" is a paper design I did
shortly after graduating in response to requests from
hobbyists around the country about how to make a core
memory unit function. It was a slimmed down version
of the computer I had successfully built and run year
earlier called the HAL-4096. MINI-MINI was described
rather completely on 2-4 (don't remember exactly)
hand-printed letter-size pages which I reproduced via
blueprint machine. I filled about a dozen requests
for copies but never heard of anybody actually building
one. I have at least one set of the original blueprints
in my archives in America.

I take it from your by-line that you have a museum of
sorts that concentrates on analog computation.
MINI-MINI was strictly digital with 4000 (not 4K) 4-bit
words of core memory. Each word could hold one octal
digit plus a "flag" bit which was used to indicate the
boundaries between words and whether a word was negative
or positive. Thus it was a variable word length machine
like an IBM 1620. Instructions were 10 digits long and
consisted of 2-digit opcode and two 4-digit addresses.
There was no accumulator; everything was memory-to-memory
so one instruction could do a lot.

Although MINI-MINI was probbly never built (at least not
by me), HAL-4096 WAS built and ran from around 1970 until
around 1979 when I moved from New Hampshire back to Raleigh
(it was retired then and didn't make the move because wires
in the core memory were corroding and breaking). I have
some photos, a newspaper clipping, some of the homemade
boards it used, perhaps a memory plane sample, and some
software listings. It was a pretty complete system with
full console, Selectric typewriter (and later a line
printer), card reader, card punch, paper tape reader and
punch, and modem (300 baud). Software included a
full-featured assembler and BASIC interpreter, a version
of which was remotely accessible via auto-answer modem
(Bill Gates, eat your heart out - I beat ya by more than
2 years). There were tons of utilities and some
experimental music synthesis software (the real reason it
was built). I've still got much of the software on paper
tapes, card decks, and printed listings.
--------- End Quote --------------------------------------

 I just contacted Hal again to nail down the date
that these pages were written. And he said:

--------- Start Quote ----------------------------------
> I was wondering, in what year the handout was written?

I graduated with a BS in the Spring of 1970 so that would
have been the Summer of that year. I believe that Mike
Quinn had suggested that I write some plans for using IBM
1401 core memory planes which he had in abundance at the
time and that was the result. It was really based on the
then running HAL 4096 which used a larger IBM 1620 memory

>Did you know that there is a page at:
>http://www.mtu.com/basics/mtufounders.htm that states:
>> In 1966 as a college freshman, Hal designed his
>> own digital computer (the HAL 4096) using scrap
>> IBM magnetic core memory planes and logic cards.
>> .... The HAL4096 was demonstrated publicly at the
>> 1968 NC State University Engineer's Fair.

 That web site is run by my former business partner at MTU.
 The HAL 4096 wasn't really begun until 1968 (beginning of
Junior year) when I got the core memory unit from Mike
Quinn and some logic boards from IBM where I had worked the
immediately preceeding Summer. What was shown at the
Engineer's Fair was the core memory and ALU doing "something
useful" (don't remember what it was) but the CPU didn't
execute the full instruction set and have any useful
software until 1969-1970.

> Thank you for your time. Many people today are
> interested in this kind of history. And your
> design is a good indication of the type of serious
> projects that were being attempted at the time.

Again, feel free to do what you want with the MINI-MINI
--------- End Quote ------------------------------------

 If these pages are not already available and someone
would like to host them, let me know. Like I said
before I'm not sure what the effect of many people
trying to download this file would be, so I will
give the filename to one person. And that person can
make them available to anyone interested.

 The scans are a little rough but then the originals
are 30 years old and copies from a blueprint machine.
The 6 pages are 8.5x11 scanned at 300 dpi stored as
.JPGs and zipped together for a total file size of
about 15.5 MB!!
 Oh! and I'm on digest.

 And if I still have anyone's attention, does anyone
know where I can find program to do Group 4 fax
compression under Windows 98? Or a program to put
a .PDF wrapper around scanned pages (for the budget
conscious) under Windows 98?
Doug Coward
_at_ home in Poulsbo, WA

Analog Computer Online Museum and History Center
Analogrechner, calculateur analogique,
calcolatore analogico, analoogrekenaar,
komputer analogowy, analog bilgisayar,
kampiutere ghiyasi, analoge computer.
Received on Sun Jan 06 2002 - 11:18:37 GMT

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