Gordon Bell, 1934-2024: Grandmaster of Computer Architecture, Wizard of VAX, Inventor of the UART, Founder of the Computer History Museum

Gordon Bell may have worn badge number 80 at Digital Equipment Corp (DEC), but he had a profound influence on the development of minicomputers, including the groundbreaking DEC VAX 11/780 superminicomputer. He became a grandmaster of computer architecture and collected the flotsam, jetsam, and ephemera of computing’s history, preserving the early history computers that few others would take the time or make the effort to collect. His collection … Read More → "Gordon Bell, 1934-2024: Grandmaster of Computer Architecture, Wizard of VAX, Inventor of the UART, Founder of the Computer History Museum"

The Communication Connection: Time Sensitive Networking, SOSA and the Ethernet Revolution

This week my podcast guest is longtime friend of the show Nigel Forrester from Concurrent Technologies! Nigel and I chat about time sensitive networking, how TSN profiles are grouped, what kind of standards are being developed to support these profiles, and how ethernet will pave the way for innovation in real-time communications in the future. Also this week, I check out how you can fly your … Read More → "The Communication Connection: Time Sensitive Networking, SOSA and the Ethernet Revolution"

The First ICs on the Moon – The Apollo Guidance Computer, Part 2

Part 1 of this article discussed the Fairchild resistor-transistor logic (RTL) NOR gate ICs used in the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) for NASA’s manned lunar program in the 1960s. Ultimately, NASA ordered one million ICs – so many that Fairchild alone was not able to fulfill the orders, so NASA ordered parts from Motorola Semiconductor, Philco, Texas Instruments, Transitron, and Westinghouse. The AGC Block I computers used Fairchild’ … Read More → "The First ICs on the Moon – The Apollo Guidance Computer, Part 2"

Ceva-Waves Links Multi-Protocol Wireless Connectivity IP

I’m afraid that (what I laughingly refer to as) my mind is wandering (as is its wont). It knows it’s supposed to write about multi-protocol wireless IP, but it’s been beguiled by thoughts of headphones equipped with the latest and greatest in 3D spatial audio boasting state-of-the-art headtracking resulting in a new level of immersive experience.

What … Read More → "Ceva-Waves Links Multi-Protocol Wireless Connectivity IP"

The First ICs on the Moon – The Apollo Guidance Computer, Part 1

In a speech made at Rice University on May 25, 1961, twenty days after Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut to fly into space in the Freedom 7 Mercury space capsule, U.S. President John F Kennedy said:

“Now it is time to take longer strides – time for a great new American enterprise – time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space … Read More → "The First ICs on the Moon – The Apollo Guidance Computer, Part 1"

June 17, 2024
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featured chalk talk

Audio Design for Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Glasses
Open ear audio can be beneficial to a host of different applications including virtual reality headsets, smart glasses, and sports and fitness designs. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton and Ryan Boyle from Analog Devices explore the what, where, and how of open ear audio. We also investigate the solutions that Analog Devices has for open ear audio applications and how you can design open ear audio into your next application. 
Jan 23, 2024

featured paper

Navigating design challenges: block/chip design-stage verification

Sponsored by Siemens Digital Industries Software

Explore the future of IC design with the Calibre Shift left initiative. In this paper, author David Abercrombie reveals how Siemens is changing the game for block/chip design-stage verification by moving Calibre verification and reliability analysis solutions further left in the design flow, including directly inside your P&R tool cockpit. Discover how you can reduce traditional long-loop verification iterations, saving time, improving accuracy, and dramatically boosting productivity.

Click here to read more

Posted on Jun 17 at 10:25am by Steven Leibson
I too have a copy of that book, MD. I bought it years ago because it includes a detailed description of the HP 9845 desktop computer, a machine that I played a very small role in designing.
Posted on Jun 17 at 9:04am by MD
When I read your description of Bell & Newell's 1971 book, a *bell* went off in my head! Sure enough, there's a copy in my library. I've only skimmed through it, but it seems to contain a remarkable amount of history.
Posted on Jun 14 at 7:49am by Steven Leibson
Hi Jack. Thanks for alerting me to the broken link. I've just fixed and verified it in the article.
Posted on Jun 14 at 5:54am by jackrubin
Always happy to see you untangling the threads of history. Unfortunately, the link to Lenore's article is a 404 since the Evil Mad folks decamped to the East Coast. Can you provide an updated link? Thanks!
Posted on Jun 11 at 8:31am by bpaddock
What really pushed the AVR and the PIC to the forefront of the day was, oddly, Motorola. Motorola had a lot of design wins with the 6805, then one day said "we sold them all to Detroit". The AVR and the PIC were the only available near equivalents then and we ...
Posted on Jun 6 at 9:21am by Max Maxfield
Thanks for sharing this Steve -- Jack is one of my heroes -- plus he's a really nice guy -- I'd not heard the trick about using a 3-bit R-2R ladder DAC to provide the ID of the currently executing task on an analog meter -- VERY COOL!!!
Posted on Jun 5 at 10:59am by traneusee
The Intel 8251 and 8251A differed in ready-pin response time. I made a design that required the 8251A. NEC second-sourced both parts, and NEC 8251A's worked well. Toshiba second-sourced the 8251 but labeled their parts 8251A, causing problems in purchasing and production. Yes, for us old timers the Permanent Embed is not ...
Posted on Jun 5 at 9:34am by traneusee
I started working on embedded systems in 1973, using Intel and second-source Microsystems International 8008 processors. From 1980 to 2010, I worked on hard-real-time math-heavy electromagnetic instrumentation. We coded in assembly language on the bare metal. In 1998, I used one of the first 24-bit audio A/D converters driving an Integrated Device Technology 64-bit ...
Posted on Jun 5 at 9:29am by M. Simon
How time passes. Brain dead processors? Try a 1 bit processor (Motorola) or the more common 4 bitters. I designed the IO board that went into the World's First BBS. Helped Randy and Ward with the dog 8251 serial chip. I never used that one again. TTL was glue logic back then. Great ...
Posted on Jun 5 at 6:02am by Max Maxfield
It's getting to be harder and harder to tell the difference LOL
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featured blogs
Jun 13, 2024
I've just been introduced to the DuoFlex 4K Dual-Screen Display from HalmaPixel, and now I'm drooling with desire all over my keyboard....
ROHM’s 3rd Gen 650V IGBT for a Wide range of Applications: RGW and RGWS Series
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton and Heath Ogurisu from ROHM Semiconductor investigate the benefits of ROHM Semiconductor’s RGW and RGWS Series of IGBTs. They explore how the soft switching of these hybrid IGBTs contribute to energy savings and power generation efficiency and why these IGBTs provide a well-balanced solution for switching and cost.
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Easily Connect to AWS Cloud with ExpressLink Over Wi-Fi
Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and AWS and u-blox
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton, Lucio Di Jasio from AWS and Magnus Johansson from u-blox explore common pitfalls of designing an IoT device from scratch, the benefits that AWS IoT ExpressLink brings to IoT device design, and how the the NORA-W2 AWS IoT ExpressLink multiradio modules can make retrofitting an already existing design into a smart AWS connected device easier than ever before.
May 30, 2024
Infineon and Mouser introduction to Reliable Solid State Isolators
Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Infineon
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton and Daniel Callen Jr. from Infineon explore trends in solid state isolator and relay solutions, the benefits that Infineon’s SSI solutions bring to the table, and how you can get started using these solutions for your next design. 
May 28, 2024
Driving Next-Gen Efficiency and Productivity to the Battery Lifecycle
Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Vicor
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton and David Krakauer from Vicor explore the evolution of battery technology and the specific benefits that power modules bring to battery cell formation, battery testing and battery recycling. They investigate what sets Vicor power modules apart from other solutions on the market today and how you take advantage of Vicor power modules in your next design.
May 24, 2024
From Sensor to Cloud:A Digi/SparkFun Solution
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton, Mark Grierson from Digi, and Rob Reynolds from SparkFun Electronics explore how Digi and SparkFun electronics are working together to make cellular connected IoT design easier than ever before. They investigate the benefits that the Digi Remote Manager® brings to IoT design, the details of the SparkFun Digi XBee Development Kit, and how you can get started using a SparkFun Board for XBee for your next design.
May 21, 2024
SiC-Based High-Density Industrial Charger Solutions
Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and onsemi
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton and Prasad Paruchuri from onsemi explore the benefits of silicon carbide based high density industrial charging solutions. They investigate the topologies of Totem Pole PFC and Half Bridge LLC circuits, the challenges that bidirectional CLLC resonant DC-DC converters are solving today, and how you can take advantage of onsemi’s silicon carbide charging solutions for your next design.
May 21, 2024