Building a PC - then & now

Raymond Wiker rwiker at
Thu Jan 14 00:51:34 CST 2016

On Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 11:29 PM, Murray McCullough <
c.murray.mccullough at> wrote:

> I was reading in a dated magazine article on the "freedom to build(a
> PC)": Well you can't build phone; can't build a car; can't build a
> refrigerator; can't build a TV. Do we have the freedom to build a
> computer? We did in the earliest days of the PC- the 8-bit era. Heck,
> that's all one could do! It was limited and is to this day. AMD vs
> INTEL control what we can do. Has anything really changed?

I'd say that we still have the freedom to build a computer; in fact, it's
probably easier than it ever was. True, it may not be feasible to build
a high-performance computer based on current generation x86 chips,
but there are so many alternatives: some of the 8-bit favourites are still
being made (6502, z80); then there's the AVR, PIC, TI 430, the Propeller,
various ARM chips.

There are free or low-cost CAD packages, and having small series of PCBs
made is almost ridiculously cheap. You can get logic analyzers for $150 or
so, and if you want to experiment with FPGAs, you can get useful
development systems for well below $100.

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