News

System 00 Manual Now Online

Thanks to the Hagley Museum and Library, we now have the manual online for Weisbecker’s earliest known microprocessor prototype, System 00, available on the Publications > Books & Papers page. (We recently published photos of System 00 in the Gallery.)

System 00 dates back to about 1971 and was built with standard 7400-series TTL chips. The manual documents system architecture, opcodes, machine operation, and even includes schematics and sample programs. Let me know if you build one!

Get to Know FRED

In 1971, RCA engineer Joseph Weisbecker was prototyping his ideas for an 8-bit microprocessor. In August 1976, he published plans for a low-cost CDP1802-based computer in Popular Electronics, the COSMAC ELF. In between, Weisbecker developed and evangelized a concept he called FRED, for “Flexible Recreational and Educational Device.”

COSMAC ELF forum member Paul Robson contacted the Hagley Museum and Library about some archived FRED-related documents and, with their blessing, has made them available in the Files area of the COSMAC ELF forum (Yahoo account needed for access). The documents currently posted contain everything from prototype schematics to hand-coded software to random notes and doodles. They offer a rare and interesting peek into the minds of the engineers from the early days of microcomputing.

Birth of a Microprocessor

JW00B

Photo by Z. Stachniak, courtesy of the David Sarnoff Library

Next month marks 40 years since Joseph Weisbecker published plans for the original ELF computer in the pages of Popular Electronics, but 5 years earlier Weisbecker was prototyping his ideas for a microprocessor out of discrete logic. Later Weisbecker would conceptualize his ideas for an inexpensive home computer as FRED (“Flexible Recreational and Educational Device”), eventually leading to RCA’s COSMAC series of microprocessors and the RCA VIP computer.

Thanks to Z. Stachniak and the David Sarnoff Library, we now have photographs of Weisbecker's prototype in the Gallery.

In completely unrelated news, today is Ringo Starr’s 76th birthday. Peace and love, everyone. :)

© Dave Ruske 2001-2017, except where noted