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'[OT] Computer built using relays (with link this t'
2006\02\15@054314 by Lindy Mayfield

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Someone gave a link to Magic which was a computer built from 74 series TTL chips, and I though that was the coolest thing I had ever seen (well, not counting my first trip to Amsterdam), and then someone sent me this link which is a computer built from relays, and currently the coolest thing I have ever seen.

http://www.cs.pdx.edu/~harry/Relay/index.html



2006\02\15@062311 by Wouter van Ooijen

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> http://www.cs.pdx.edu/~harry/Relay/index.html

I think using an SRAM as main memory is a bit cheating, but OK, the CPU
is all relais.

Now what I would like to see: main memory as needed, a GCC compiler and
a Linux port!

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\02\15@063246 by Howard Winter

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Lindy,

On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 12:43:10 +0200, Lindy Mayfield wrote:

> Someone gave a link to Magic which was a computer built from 74 series TTL chips, and I though that was the
coolest thing I had ever seen (well, not counting my first trip to Amsterdam), and then someone sent me this
link which is a computer built from relays, and currently the coolest thing I have ever seen.
>
> http://www.cs.pdx.edu/~harry/Relay/index.html

That's amazing, and much have been a huge amount of work - I bet it's fun to watch (and hear) working!

But I see he wimped out when it came to memory, and used a static RAM chip... to keep it all electromagnetic,
shouldn't he have used core?

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\02\15@070404 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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{Quote hidden}

I did think that initialy, but just imagine how many relays you would need for a 32kbyte memory! I find it quite amazing that the rest of the system uses "only" 415 relays given the surprising amount of functionality.

Regards

Mike

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2006\02\15@071549 by Dave King

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{Quote hidden}

Makes you wonder if its rated in mips, kips, or cips (clicks per second)

Dave

2006\02\15@072925 by Alan B. Pearce

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>I did think that initialy, but just imagine how many
>relays you would need for a 32kbyte memory! I find it
>quite amazing that the rest of the system uses "only"
>415 relays given the surprising amount of functionality.

Probably get away with 32k relays - if one used magnetic latching ones.
Would have the advantage they would be like core memory, and retain the info
across power outages.

The bigger hassle would come in the address logic, but even that could be
do-able. If the memory cell coils are individually brought out with one end
used as a row address, and the other as a column address, then the ladder to
decode the address would come down to a manageable size - the limiting
factor would be the number of contacts you could put on a single relay for
the final stage or two of the ladder.

2006\02\15@073135 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Makes you wonder if its rated in mips, kips, or cips (clicks per second)

Could be rated in dB or therms - I believe the machines at Bletchley Park
got quite warm. The girls operating them used to use the equipment room as a
drying room for washed clothing during the winter ;)

2006\02\15@090704 by Lembit Soobik

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My first job as engineer 1963 was in a company which made office machines. A
desk full of relays and 'Strowger selectors' - the same things which they
used in telephone exchange at that time. People there liked to show the
'speed' by entering a little task like 99999 x 999 then go to lunch and when
we returned it was still working on it tak tak tak tak tak tak rrrrrrrrrt
tak tak tak....
We developed the new generation machines using core memory and blocking
oscillators (rather than flip-flops, monoflops) because they worked with
only one transistor. Transistors were expensive, around 5 to 10 $ a piece.

Lembit


{Quote hidden}

> --

2006\02\15@105033 by gacrowell

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: piclist-bouncesspamKILLspammit.edu
> [.....piclist-bouncesKILLspamspam.....mit.edu] On Behalf Of Lembit Soobik
> Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2006 7:06 AM
> To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
> Subject: Re: [OT] Computer built using relays (with link this time)
...
> We developed the new generation machines using core memory
> and blocking
> oscillators (rather than flip-flops, monoflops) because they
> worked with
> only one transistor. Transistors were expensive, around 5 to
> 10 $ a piece.
>
> Lembit

My first job in the Air Force was working on teletype crypto machines
that used magnetic logic; the analog of a flip-flop was called a
ping-pong.  That was two cores passing a '1' state back and forth, idle
was a '0'.  I always wondered if anything other than those crypto
systems ever used that type of logic.

GC

2006\02\15@113421 by Harold Hallikainen

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> My first job as engineer 1963 was in a company which made office machines.
> A
> desk full of relays and 'Strowger selectors' - the same things which they
> used in telephone exchange at that time. People there liked to show the
> 'speed' by entering a little task like 99999 x 999 then go to lunch and
> when
> we returned it was still working on it tak tak tak tak tak tak rrrrrrrrrt
> tak tak tak....
> We developed the new generation machines using core memory and blocking
> oscillators (rather than flip-flops, monoflops) because they worked with
> only one transistor. Transistors were expensive, around 5 to 10 $ a piece.
>
> Lembit

My father's company had electromechanical calculators. They would do
divisions through successive subtractions, counting the required number of
subtractions to get to zero. I once told it to divide something by zero.
After an hour of clunking, I unplugged it and went home. I don't know if
they had to send it in for repair or what...

Harold


--
FCC Rules Updated Daily at http://www.hallikainen.com

2006\02\15@115424 by Peter Todd

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On Wed, Feb 15, 2006 at 12:31:33PM -0000, Alan B. Pearce wrote:
> >Makes you wonder if its rated in mips, kips, or cips (clicks per second)
>
> Could be rated in dB or therms - I believe the machines at Bletchley Park
> got quite warm. The girls operating them used to use the equipment room as a
> drying room for washed clothing during the winter ;)

Oh gawd, I'd hope the extra humidity didn't do it in...

--
EraseMEpetespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTpetertodd.ca http://www.petertodd.ca

2006\02\15@160525 by Don Taylor

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On Wed, 15 Feb 2006, Lindy Mayfield wrote:
> Someone gave a link to Magic which was a computer built from 74 series
> TTL chips, and I though that was the coolest thing I had ever seen
> (well, not counting my first trip to Amsterdam), and then someone sent
> me this link which is a computer built from relays, and currently the
> coolest thing I have ever seen.
>
> http://www.cs.pdx.edu/~harry/Relay/index.html

In 1950-1950 in Radio Electronics, there was a multi-issue article
on building a computer completely from relays, called SIMON.  Thanks
to a wonderful old public library, I was able to find, and have
lost here somewhere, a photocopy of that.  There were one or two
thin little books that were published a bit later that referenced
that.  (Google can give you a few clues about this)

A friend of mine, who passed away years ago, was active in computers
in the late 1950's and beyond, put me onto this and had collected
some of the bits and pieces to build one of these, but it was never
completed.

Someone asked me for copies of that perhaps half a decade ago, with
the goal of building one of these, but I never heard from him again
and don't know whether he was able to finish it or not.


Going wildly another direction, I thought it would be fun to recreate
a Burroughs 5000 mainframe in a single FGPA chip, along with a
couple of simms for "silicon tape drives".  Someone else I knew
decades ago had worked at Burroughs at that time and had lots of
the original paper documentation.  I thought it would be great fun
to have a mainfame packaged inside a kitchen match box, running
ALGOL a hundred thousand times the speed of the original.

2006\02\15@173156 by Peter Onion

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On Wed, 2006-02-15 at 11:32 +0000, Howard Winter wrote:

>
> That's amazing, and much have been a huge amount of work - I bet it's fun to watch (and hear) working!
>
> But I see he wimped out when it came to memory, and used a static RAM chip... to keep it all electromagnetic,
> shouldn't he have used core?

Even a core store would be (temporally) out of place with a relay CPU !

Peter


2006\02\15@173904 by Peter Onion

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On Wed, 2006-02-15 at 15:06 +0100, Lembit Soobik wrote:

> We developed the new generation machines using core memory and blocking
> oscillators (rather than flip-flops, monoflops) because they worked with
> only one transistor. Transistors were expensive, around 5 to 10 $ a piece.
>
> Lembit

That's interesting.  The only computers that I know of using cores for
logic werebuiltby Elliott Bros.in England.   There is a brief
description of the logic here
http://members.ozemail.com.au/~jacksmth/ell803b.htm

I'm currently working on a software "core level" emulation of this
machine.  Luckily I have a (nearly) complete set of the logic diagrams
and the descriptive texts for the machine.  So far it's running simple
programs and I'm just coding up the logic for the flaoting point
instructions.

Peter

2006\02\15@184613 by Harold Hallikainen

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{Quote hidden}

Interesting! Is that Elliott Automation? They were part owners of my
father's company. See
sujan.hallikainen.org/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/webinator/search/?pr=hi&query=elliott&xsubmit=Search%3A
.

I remember a "half rack" size computer from them at my father's plant.

Harold

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FCC Rules Updated Daily at http://www.hallikainen.com

2006\02\16@020110 by Peter Onion

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On Wed, 2006-02-15 at 15:46 -0800, Harold Hallikainen wrote:
>
>
> Interesting! Is that Elliott Automation? They were part owners of my
> father's company. See
> sujan.hallikainen.org/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/webinator/search/?pr=hi&query=elliott&xsubmit=Search%3A
> .
>
> I remember a "half rack" size computer from them at my father's plant.
>
> Harold

Yes, it's the same "Elliotts"...

"Half racksize"  Not an 803 then, but they did make process control
systems based on the 803.  You may find some information on at the
"Our Computer Heritage" web site
http://www.ourcomputerheritage.org/wp/ where there are sections on
Elliott machine.

Peter

>

2006\02\16@055818 by Shawn Tan

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> "Our Computer Heritage" web site
> http://www.ourcomputerheritage.org/wp/ where there are sections on
> Elliott machine.

some of you guys are *really old*.. hehe..

cheers..

with metta,
shawn tan.

2006\02\16@092618 by gacrowell

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: piclist-bouncesspamspam_OUTmit.edu
> [@spam@piclist-bouncesKILLspamspammit.edu] On Behalf Of Peter Onion
> Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2006 3:39 PM
> To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
> Subject: Re: [OT] Computer built using relays (with link this time)

> That's interesting.  The only computers that I know of using cores for
> logic werebuiltby Elliott Bros.in England.   There is a brief
> description of the logic here
> http://members.ozemail.com.au/~jacksmth/ell803b.htm

> Peter

OK, neet.  That is very similar to the logic used in the tty crypto
machine I mentioned, except that there was no driver transistor
required.  The source and destination cores were linked directly with
just a diode IIRC.  The trigger in this case was a 60V tube-driven
pulse.

GC

2006\02\16@112303 by Peter Onion

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> OK, neet.  That is very similar to the logic used in the tty crypto
> machine I mentioned, except that there was no driver transistor
> required.  The source and destination cores were linked directly with
> just a diode IIRC.  The trigger in this case was a 60V tube-driven
> pulse.

The "trigger" pulses in the 803 were about 800mA I think, and sourced from a
-20V supply. Each current pulse was just under 3uS long. Each logic board
had a pair of OC23 transistors to provide the "alpha" and "beta" phase
pulses.  There's a picture of an 803 board at the bottom of this web
page.... http://bil.members.beeb.net/elliott.html

Peter


2006\02\16@125539 by Peter Todd

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On Thu, Feb 16, 2006 at 10:59:45AM +0000, Shawn Tan wrote:
> > "Our Computer Heritage" web site
> > http://www.ourcomputerheritage.org/wp/ where there are sections on
> > Elliott machine.
>
> some of you guys are *really old*.. hehe..

Totally, I'm so old I'm working on building a relay-based LFSR shift
register right now. I'm even going to hand it in as a electronics
project at my university.

--
KILLspampeteKILLspamspampetertodd.ca http://www.petertodd.ca

2006\02\16@181502 by Howard Winter

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Peter,

On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 22:39:07 +0000, Peter Onion wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Hang on - we were talking about core *memory*, not core logic elements!  I think pretty-much all 3rd
generation computers used core memory, so IBM, ICL, English Electric, Burroughs, Univac, and so on, all used
it.  I was rather impressed when I went back to the college where I'd done my A Levels, and had been an
operator on an IBM 370 (semiconductor memory), to see the old ICL 1904 that they'd inherited - you just turn
on the power and start using it - no need to IPL because the operating system is still in (core) memory!

I seem to remember hearing that the Elliot 803 had a "Squawk box", a sound producing device whose output
varied with some parameter - perhaps the program counter?  The sound it made could tip off those with an
experienced ear that there was a problem, such as an infinite loop.  Anyone who has heard the sound would
recognise it as a computer from that era, as it was often used in films featuring computers to make it more
exciting!  :-)

Oh, and as it happens Borehamwood, where Elliott's was, is about 5 miles from here!

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\02\16@184422 by Peter Onion

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On Thu, 2006-02-16 at 23:14 +0000, Howard Winter wrote:
> Peter,
>
> On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 22:39:07 +0000, Peter Onion wrote:
>
> > On Wed, 2006-02-15 at 15:06 +0100, Lembit Soobik wrote:
> >
> > > We developed the new generation machines using core memory and blocking
> > > oscillators (rather than flip-flops, monoflops) because they worked with
> > > only one transistor. Transistors were expensive, around 5 to 10 $ a piece.
> > >
> > > Lembit
> >
> > That's interesting.  The only computers that I know of using cores for
> > logic werebuiltby Elliott Bros.in England.   There is a brief
> > description of the logic here
> > members.ozemail.com.au/~jacksmth/ell803b.htm
>
> Hang on - we were talking about core *memory*, not core logic elements!

We WERE but the conversation has moved on !


>  I think pretty-much all 3rd
> generation computers used core memory, so IBM, ICL, English Electric, Burroughs, Univac, and so on, all used
> it.  I was rather impressed when I went back to the college where I'd done my A Levels, and had been an
> operator on an IBM 370 (semiconductor memory), to see the old ICL 1904 that they'd inherited - you just turn
> on the power and start using it - no need to IPL because the operating system is still in (core) memory!
>
> I seem to remember hearing that the Elliot 803 had a "Squawk box", a sound producing device whose output
> varied with some parameter - perhaps the program counter?

Yes, but it wasn't a separate "box" but a standard feature built into
the console.  It was connected to the "a statisicer" in the instruction
register, so any instruction in groups 4 to 7 would produce a "click" of
length determined by the time the instruction took to execute.


>   The sound it made could tip off those with an
> experienced ear that there was a problem, such as an infinite loop.  Anyone who has heard the sound would
> recognise it as a computer from that era, as it was often used in films featuring computers to make it more
> exciting!  :-)

I'll try and make a recording on my emulator running the algol compiler
and put it on my web site for you to listen to :-)  I can't do it now as
I'm in the middle of converting all the modules to use a different
service discovery library.


> Oh, and as it happens Borehamwood, where Elliott's was, is about 5 miles from here!

Peter

2006\02\17@025554 by William Chops Westfield

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On Feb 15, 2006, at 12:37 PM, Don Taylor wrote:

> Going wildly another direction, I thought it would be fun to recreate
> a Burroughs 5000 mainframe in a single FGPA chip, along with a
> couple of simms for "silicon tape drives".

There's a relatively large set of people using linux PCs as
"micro engines" to implement various semi-ancient architectures.
The DECSystem-20 thus implemented runs some 6 to 10x the speed
of the fastest real PDP10 ever sold :-)

BillW

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