Forgotten PC History

Roy J. Tellason rtellason at
Sat Aug 9 00:29:47 CDT 2008

On Saturday 09 August 2008 01:12, Chuck Guzis wrote:
> On 9 Aug 2008 at 0:39, Roy J. Tellason wrote:
> > I remember a couple or three hobby kits of one sort or another that were
> > RTL in cans.  They came with a board but I'm not remembering the
> > orientation of the board holes at this point,  might've been DIP but
> > we're talking 30+ years ago so I'm not sure.  I do remember that I had to
> > bend the leads, though.  :-)
> I remember the Moto mWRTL experimenter's pack.  Cans, but no boards--
> and a fair number of analog suggested applications.  RTL was kind of
> neat that way--it could swing both ways.  If you wanted to make a
> microphone mixer using a 4-input NAND gate, you could without much
> trouble at all.  Probably getting close to 40 years, no?
> Cheers,
> Chuck

Probably,  yeah.  I used to wander around lower Manhattan and other places 
around NYC where I might find interesting places selling assorted odd bits of 
electronic junk (an obsession I still have to some extent,  collecting that 

One time I went into this place that wasn't in the usual areas,  not on Canal 
St. nor down around Cortlandt/Chambers, that area further down,  but I'm 
thinking West Broadway maybe.  I can't recall the name of the company,  but I 
can still picture the guy's face.

The kit that I remember well was this "electronic music maker" thingy that had 
basically an LFO driving a 4-bit counter and on each counter output you had a 
pot and a switch with the common point of those driving an oscillator,  so 
you could select all sorts of patterns,  and sequences.  I put a lot of care 
into building that for one of my kids back then.  Dunno whatever became of 
it,  either.   But it was all definitely RTL in there,  it ran off a set of 3 
or 4 C cells if I'm remembering right,  because those were what would fit in 
the box.

In recent email conversation talking about all those old Don Lancaster 
cookbooks I mentioned that the RTL one was the only one out of the set that I 
didn't have yet,  and it was pointed out to me that there were copies *real* 
cheap on Amazon,  which surprised me.  I may yet get a hold of one of those,  
though I have little hope of running across any of those chips any more,  
even though they used to be common.

And I don't suppose you can have quite as much fun with TTL,  either.  CMOS 
does have some possibilities,  maybe.  :-)

> > > That's the way I did my first IC boards--single-sided PCB, laid out
> > > with tape and etched.  Hooked the pads together with No. 26 magnet
> > > wire.
> > >
> > > I didn't know any better, but it worked.
> >
> > I guess that's what counts,  eh?

That reminds me of my first wire-wrap board,  a CPU (only) build around an 
8080 chip.  Three regulators on the board,  power supply connections by way 
of some strips of Vector bus stips cut in thirds,  and I never did nail down 
any particular niterconnect scheme before I got majorly sidetracked away from 
it.  But it did work,  when I tried it...

Member of the toughest, meanest, deadliest, most unrelenting -- and
ablest -- form of life in this section of space,  a critter that can
be killed but can't be tamed.  --Robert A. Heinlein, "The Puppet Masters"
Information is more dangerous than cannon to a society ruled by lies. --James 
M Dakin

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