front panel display for a modern PC

Josef Chessor josefcub at
Thu Feb 28 12:17:14 CST 2008

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 11:52 AM, John Floren <slawmaster at> wrote:

>  That is a lot of switches, but didn't CDC (and other companies, I just
>  thought of CDC first) make 60-bit and other large word-size machines,
>  which I can only assume also had front panels?

  That's one daunting front panel, that's for sure!  Of course, CDC
had larger budgets than we usually do. ;-)

>  Sure, it may be
>  annoying and impractical to have 128 switches, but it would be fun to
>  make and play with. I guess if it comes down to it, I could just make
>  one for the parallel port and figure out some way to interface it to
>  various simulators...

I'd dreamed of having a "Generic Front Panel", 16-bit address/8-bit
data, hooked up via RS-232 for simulator uses.  I admit that your idea
controlling a PC in this way would be really, really cool.  Of limited
utility outside of learning, though.

>  The biggest hurdle, I guess, would be figuring out how to interface it
>  to the machine in a good way. The second biggest problem would be
>  finding where to get that many identical switches and lights without
>  bankrupting myself.

Buying in bulk is usually the only solution, because I wouldn't really
want to scavenge anything from a classic machine to do something like
this.  Crafting a beautiful panel to install them in is the real
challenge, though.

"I laugh because I dare not cry.  This is a crazy world
 and the only way to enjoy it is to treat it as a joke."
     -- Hilda "Sharpie" Burroughs,
        "The Number of the Beast" by Robert A. Heinlein

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