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AdamStanislav
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Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:15 pm

Here is a new video with Professor Brailsford of University of Nottingham discussing how hard and complicated computing was before Raspberry Pi:

https://youtu.be/fErUu217Pu0

ti994/a
Posts: 10
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:47 pm

Great video. I worked in a barcode labels business that still used photo typesetters in the early 90s. The typesetters themselves were from early mid 80s. The controlling hardware had broken years ago and the interface with the design software on a PC was undertaken on a board using a PIC microcontroller. Very similar to the process described in this video. Good times.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:11 pm

Interesting video.

My wife was peripherally involved with the UC Berkeley switch from their original CAT-4 typesetter to an APS micro-5 unit. Troff was originally written very tightly coupled to the requirements of the CAT-4 and that phototypesetter used glass character image wheels. That meant that if you wanted to change the font set, you had to stop the machine, undo a wingnut, remove the--*glass*--font wheel, put in the new font wheel, properly tighten the wingnut, and then restart the CAT-4. I'm sure everyone where can spot a number of problems with this procedure.

The APS phototypesetter used a high resolution CRT (1980 lines per inch) and fonts were retrieved from an HDD in the APS itself.

The problem was that tight coupling to the CAT-4. Eventually, Berkeley gave up on getting all that out of troff and re-wrote it into two general parts. The first part became "ditroff" (device independent troff) and the second part was a typesetter model dependent "driver".

Things were proceeding nicely. Then one day a couple of weeks before the APS-u5 was supposed to go live, the Computing Services Newsletter had to be typeset. This was to be done on the CAT-4. The operator failed to properly secure the wingnut holding the alternate font wheel that the newsletter used. Pretty much instantly, the interior of the CAT-4 was filled with a vast number of very tiny shards of glass... The APS-u5 was hastily put into live service.

My wife's part in all this was that she worked in the editorial office for the Computing Services Newsletter and was on a committee to select what fonts they would purchase for the new typesetter.

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AdamStanislav
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:28 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:11 pm
Things were proceeding nicely. Then one day a couple of weeks before the APS-u5 was supposed to go live, the Computing Services Newsletter had to be typeset. This was to be done on the CAT-4. The operator failed to properly secure the wingnut holding the alternate font wheel that the newsletter used. Pretty much instantly, the interior of the CAT-4 was filled with a vast number of very tiny shards of glass...
Ouch! Yes, things are so much easier nowadays.

MisterEd
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:43 am

People think of NASA as high-tech but in the early 1980's secretaries were not allowed to have their own desktop PCs. We had an unused microcomputer sitting around so I proposed we convert it to be used for all the secretaries to use for word processing. I was given the go ahead to build the system. Remember we had to keep a low profile since this officially would never be allowed.

The specs as best as I can remember were:
CPU: Intel 8080 at 4 MHz
RAM: 7 x 64 KB (62 KB available for each user)
HDD: 2 x 20 MB
Terminals: 6 x DEC VT100 compatible
Printer: 4 x Diablo 630
Operating System: Digital Research MP/M (multi-user version of CP/M)
Users: 6 secretaries

Remember all the secretaries were using the same computer at the same time. All this one a little Intel 8080 CPU.

A regular computer printer was unacceptable since the secretaries normally used IBM Selectric typewriters. Also, a lot of documents had to be professional done because they went to NASA headquarters in Washington. I chose the Diablo 630 printer because it used a Xerox daisy wheel which made the printed output equivalent to an IBM Selectric. BTW, I pitied the poor engineer who had to sit next to the printer because it was really loud when it was printing.

Raspberry Pi 4B

CPU cores = 4
CPU speed = 1.5 GHz
RAM = 4 GB
Storage = 32 GB

Intel 8080
CPU cores = 1
CPU speed = 4 MHz
RAM = 64 KB max addressable at one time
Storage = 40 MB

Pi 4 computer compared to Intel 8080 computer:

CPU 375 times as fast
RAM 62,000 times as much
Storage 800 times as much

Heater
Posts: 15941
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:17 am

It's even better. That 4Mz 8080 was probably running at 1 MIPs or so. The Pi 4 is more like 1 GIP.

And it has 4 cores. 4000 times faster!
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:39 am

In the mid eighties I controlled a similar type setting machine (not from LinoType) from a C64. I had hacked the connection between the type setting terminal and the type setting machine and we could send texts which we had written with VizaWrite directly to the type setting machine. Some VizaWrite style commands were converted to special type setting commands. I wrote the conversion and control softeware in Forth (and a bit of assembler, I suppose).
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timrowledge
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:21 pm

Heater wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:17 am
It's even better. That 4Mz 8080 was probably running at 1 MIPs or so. The Pi 4 is more like 1 GIP.

And it has 4 cores. 4000 times faster!
8080 was probably more like 0.5mips in practice. A72 ARM is multi-issue, out of order so much more than 1gip; likely 1.5 at least. And, obviously, at least 4 x the data width, so multiply the effect again by some value.
Modern systems are so much faster that simply offering scaling factors doesn't really give any feel for it to most people. For example, modern versions of Smalltalk run about 200x faster on a Pi3 than on the extremely special, expensive, custom, refrigerant-required Dorado machines bult at XEROX PARC in 1981/3 - and compared to commercial cpus of that same era the factor is closer to 1,000, and compared with modern high-end cpus probalbly 20,000. People simply can't really grok such scaling factors. Twice as fast/big, sure. Ten times... hard to dig. More than that? Errrrrr.....
Making Smalltalk on ARM since 1986; making your Scratch better since 2012

jahboater
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:46 pm

Heater wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:17 am
It's even better. That 4Mz 8080 was probably running at 1 MIPs or so. The Pi 4 is more like 1 GIP.

And it has 4 cores. 4000 times faster!
Even faster still, its triple issue super scalar.

Heater
Posts: 15941
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:01 pm

jahboater,

I was wondering about that... This calls for a benchmark! Does anyone have a working 8080 system? Closest I can get is a couple of old embedded system boards with 8088 on them. I'm nowhere near getting them running just now.

On a Pi I can toggle a GPIO pin 50 million times a second in C. As measured by my scope on a pin.

An 8080 at 4MHz might run at 1 MIPs. Say one instruction to toggle a bit, one to output it and a jump. Call it four instructions to toggle a GPIO pin.

That 250K toggles per second. Only about 200 times faster :(
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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kennyc
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:26 am

Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:09 pm

MisterEd wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:43 am
People think of NASA as high-tech but in the early 1980's secretaries were not allowed to have their own desktop PCs. We had an unused microcomputer sitting around so I proposed we convert it to be used for all the secretaries to use for word processing. I was given the go ahead to build the system. Remember we had to keep a low profile since this officially would never be allowed.

The specs as best as I can remember were:
CPU: Intel 8080 at 4 MHz
RAM: 7 x 64 KB (62 KB available for each user)
HDD: 2 x 20 MB
Terminals: 6 x DEC VT100 compatible
Printer: 4 x Diablo 630
Operating System: Digital Research MP/M (multi-user version of CP/M)
Users: 6 secretaries

Remember all the secretaries were using the same computer at the same time. All this one a little Intel 8080 CPU.

A regular computer printer was unacceptable since the secretaries normally used IBM Selectric typewriters. Also, a lot of documents had to be professional done because they went to NASA headquarters in Washington. I chose the Diablo 630 printer because it used a Xerox daisy wheel which made the printed output equivalent to an IBM Selectric. BTW, I pitied the poor engineer who had to sit next to the printer because it was really loud when it was printing.

Raspberry Pi 4B

CPU cores = 4
CPU speed = 1.5 GHz
RAM = 4 GB
Storage = 32 GB

Intel 8080
CPU cores = 1
CPU speed = 4 MHz
RAM = 64 KB max addressable at one time
Storage = 40 MB

Pi 4 computer compared to Intel 8080 computer:

CPU 375 times as fast
RAM 62,000 times as much
Storage 800 times as much
That's so cool! I started working in the commercial computer business with S-100 computers (8080 and Z80) running CP/M as well as MP/M systems a bit later before IBM took over the market. :)
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ejolson
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Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:53 pm

timrowledge wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:21 pm
Heater wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:17 am
It's even better. That 4Mz 8080 was probably running at 1 MIPs or so. The Pi 4 is more like 1 GIP.

And it has 4 cores. 4000 times faster!
Modern systems are so much faster that simply offering scaling factors doesn't really give any feel for it to most people.
To make the increase in hardware performance easier to understand, there has been a corresponding decrease in software efficiency.

Consider, for example, how many instructions it took a Z80 to print a character on a daisy-wheel printer or display one on the CRT terminal. Although the Z80 could apparently handle 6 simultaneous users and 4 printers, a Pi might be hard pressed to handle 6 RealVNC desktops running LibreOffice while printing on 4 laser printers.

Heater
Posts: 15941
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:22 pm

Quite so, when it comes to the latency of hitting a key and having a character show up on the screen we have been living in a "latency dark ages" for decades:
https://danluu.com/input-lag/

In that article he has been measuring latency of all kind of machines since the apple 2e. We are still not doing very well...

But I recon we could run hundreds of instance of CP/M under emulation on a Pi. Running Wordstar and such. Might be tricky connecting up all the keyboards and terminals...
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

k-pi
Posts: 930
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Location: Upper Hale, Surrey, UK.

Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:44 pm

Ah, memories of my first desktop computer, 10MHz 8088, but I had twin 3.5" floppy disks, & a whole 512MB of ram, attached to a 9" monochrome CRT monitor. 8-)

john564
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:05 am

Re: Before Raspberry Pi

Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:18 pm

Had the Sheeva plug computer before the PI, same job. less support, thankful for the PI and its community

Image


Type Plug computer
Release date March 2009
Operating system Ubuntu 9.04
CPU 1.2 GHz ARM Marvell Kirkwood 88F6281 (ARM9E)
Memory 512 MB SDRAM, 512 MB Flash
Storage External hard drive/SDIO card/flash disk
Display none
Connectivity USB 2.0, SD slot, Gigabit Network,
JTAG mini USB
Power 2.3 W idle no attached devices, 7.0 W running at 100% CPU utilization
Dimensions 110 x 69.5 x 48.5 (mm

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