Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:13 am

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:46 am

I saw in another thread that some member have a very long computer history.

I read about PDP/8, mainframes, PET and in other threads are discussions about preferring model B because it has more memory as model A.

What could you do with just 16kb RAM for real business use?

User avatar
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:18 pm
Location: The Mountains
Contact: Website

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:58 pm

As a matter of history, you could do a lot with 16KB.  16KB was considered a large memory configuration for the IBM 1401 business computer, announced in 1959.  From Wikipedia:

Each memory location then, had the following bits:

C B A 8 4 2 1 M

The 1401 was available in six memory configurations: 1.4K, 2K, 4K, 8K, 12K, or 16K locations. A very small number of 1401s were expanded to 32K by special request. Each memory location was addressable, addresses were 0 through 15999.

I used 16KB of memory on my 8080-based Heathkit H-8 in the late 1970s.  I mostly used it for assembly language programming.  8K was used for my text editor "Eddie Baby" and my assembler.  The other 8K was for the ASM source code I was editing.  By having the program's source code in memory, I could do two passes without having to read the source twice via 1200 Baud cassette tape.  Since memory was pretty tight, Eddie Baby showed the number of free bytes available in memory on the H-8's front panel, updated dynamically as I edited.

Posts: 253
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:46 pm

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:25 pm

Well the first machine code program I ever wrote 1982 or 3 was a Printer driver on a BBC Micro for the View wordprocessor, you have a whole 64 (or was it 128?) BYTES available including storing flags!

IIRC I was able to offer Bold, Italic, underline, doubth width, condensed and pound sign printing! More options than rivals.. I was very pleased!

User avatar
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:40 pm
Location: C/S CO USA

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:55 pm

I have not ever personally worked with anthing that had that little ram, but you would be supprised what you can do with little ram.  I've programmed for the Uzebox project and it has 64k and some decent games have been made on it.

Posts: 341
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:07 am

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:14 pm

The ZX80 was advertised as having enough power to run a Nuclear Power Station.

The ZX80 had 1K of RAM including that used for the screen. .

As you filled up RAM the screen got smaller and smaller........

They also had around 8K of ROM

Think the Apollo guidance computers had about 4K of RAM and ROM as well.

Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:40 pm

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:22 pm

You could do a lot with 1k as supplied with my ZX81. After upsetting my better half by buying a 16k ram pack for (I can't remember how much) a lot of money. I could not use it all.

Sadly, I no longer have an analogue tv, or a cassette tape recorder.

Happily, I still have the ZX81+ram pack. Last known to run 5-8 years ago.

I also still have a Dragon 32, but that would be cheating, twice as much ram.

Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:04 am
Contact: Website

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:36 am

I cant remember what the limitation on turbo pascal was, 16k or 64k. but we utilized it all, even stole memory from the video card by reading/writing to the video buffer lol. We worked around it and it didnt often limit us that badly, you just got more creative.

User avatar
Posts: 1179
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:47 pm
Location: O'erlooking the sea, and all those effin windfarms...

Re: What did you do with 16kb RAM

Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:59 am


When I got a 16K RAM pack for my ZX81, I thought I'd never be able to use all of it!

Of course, the major challenge was using ANY of it, as RAM pack wobble tended to mean that your program often vanished on the last keypress.  Most people ended up using copious amounts of blu-tack to hold the pack to the back of the ZX81!

I do recall that there were word processing and spreadsheet applications for the ZX81 with 16K expansion, so I suppose some businesses attempted to use the little wonder as a substitute for more expensive microcomputers.

@updatelee:  I don't know what the limitations on the CP/M version of Turbo Pascal were, but I suppose it depended on the amount allocated to the TPA on any one particular machine.  On MSDOS systems, the total size for code+data for a compiled program was 64K.  The amount available for source code in the IDE was considerably less as the IDE only occupied up to 64K, which was the size of an 8086/88 segment.

Compared to ANY computer running ANY version of Pascal at the time,. TP wqs the environment and language of choice for what would now be called "rapid program development".

edits for spelin.....   
I'm just a bouncer, splatterers do it with more force.....

Return to “Off topic discussion”