Follow

"Galaksija" or Galaxy in Serbian, was a DIY computer from Yugoslavia, invented by Voja Antonić in 1983

It ran on a Zilog Z80 at 3Mhz and had 6K RAM and 8K ROM max. You built the whole thing, including the keyboard

Here's the complete listing from the Računari magazine (January, 1984) with the complete build instructions including the keyboard wiring (language is Serbian, I think)
voja.rs/galaksija/0102.htm

And the ROM-a B instruction set voja.rs/galaksija/ROM%20B%20Li

Here's a video of a Galaksija replica presented at CCC including the technicals and some history

youtube.com/watch?v=2NHiB63F-q

Show thread

I'm trying to revisit these early postings about as much as possible, but I'm afraid I probably won't be able to find all of them again

Show thread

This is a nice writeup about the Galaksija

"Socialism’s DIY Computer" was actually kind of like the Arduino of its day, except using the Z80A CPU and no peripherals except what you provided

It was quite popular despite the lack of access at the time in multiple countries. Not just those behind the Iron Curtain

tribunemag.co.uk/2020/07/make-

Show thread

@cypnk
> The YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.

@cypnk "Antonić says his firmware now stands as proof that it is possible to use more than 100% of program memory" hehe!

@cypnk "the system could only display three splendidly playful one-word error messages: users received a “WHAT?” if their BASIC code had a syntax error, a “HOW?” if their requested input was unrecognizable, and a “SORRY” if the machine exceeded its memory capacity."

@cypnk That's probably the ugliest PCB layout I ever seen. And that includes the ones I made myself.

@pony To be fair, they were dodging the secret police as they secretly imported components from behind the Iron Curtain, so I'm willing to cut them a little slack

@cypnk Homebrew computers were not totally uncommon in the eastern bloc. I don't think they'd need to hide before the secret police? In Czechoslovakia, this would be even encouraged to a degree, but of course, getting any component was painful.

It was drawn by hand (had to be), so, ok, but... I still find it hideous :)

@pony @cypnk I've seen a lot of older Western kit with similar PCB designs, maybe the nice neat straight stuff we are used to today also arrived with CAD...

@pony There's more history about it here: youtube.com/watch?v=2NHiB63F-q

Keep in mind that a lot of the builders were not professionals and many had no electronics training. Sometimes, the PCB was just a piece of wood and the traces were actual wires. A lot of kids were building these as well. The circumstances were very different

@pony @cypnk there probably wasn't CAD available then and the layout had to be drawn by hand using acetate and those Rotring pens or whatever the Soviet equivalent was..

I've read about this machine before. Soviet Apple 1 kinda. Very neat. I wonder how many survive to this day..

There's a documentary about the eastern bloc homebrew computer scene, but its name escapes me. Hard to come by microprocessors like Z80 in that part of the world, you had to know a guy

@tomas There's a nice video about the history and some of the internals of it at an older CCC presentation (51 minutes) youtube.com/watch?v=2NHiB63F-q

Apparently, around 8000 ROMs were shipped to back then so I'm sure a fair number of them survive to today. Some of them ended up in elementary schools. It would be lovely to see those still in action

@cypnk once upon a time in Belgrade I had a chance to visit a lecture by Voja Antonić, the constructor of Galaksija.

(He was speaking about the spread of myths in the society, aka "fake news").

@saper As someone who was subjected to copious (state sponsored) versions of that, I'm sure that was a well informed lecture

I wish I was able to see that

@cypnk it was in Serbian so I could understand maybe 15%, and my German colleague another 15% so we somehow coped together!

@cypnk That chiclet keyboard looks to have a very similar layout to the TRS-80 CoCo.

@KitsuneAlicia It looks like this keyboard used individual keyswitches instead of chiclet keys

@cypnk there is an English translation of the entire article with build instructions in PoC||GTFO 0x09
alchemistowl.org/pocorgtfo/poc

@cypnk
Yes, it's Serbian (I am from there). If you need any help with translation - shout. Another trivia - there was late night radio show where programs/games for Galaxy were emitted in the air for recording by listeners

@kokan That's amazing! What a fascinating way to propagate code before the Web existed

@kokan @cypnk I remember hearing something about this but I didn’t known when/where or what the format was.

I figured it was akin to the audio on “floppy ROM” records they used to put in BYTE magazine.

@cypnk amazing! Thanks for sharing!

On the language issue: it's complicated. Yes, there is a thing called "Serbian language", but it's a dialect of Serbo-Croatian:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_

It's basically the same language as spoken in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro.

Nationalism is rearing it's ugly head in the Balkans, and so now calling each of these "Croatian", "Serbian", "Bosnian" is starting to be tainted by it.

There are initiatives meant to counter that:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declarat

@cypnk of course you were not wrong! But just wanted to give you a bit of additional background. 😉

Fun fact, people who are not fans of nationalism tend to refer to this language in this language as "Naš" (or "Naški"). Which literally means "Ours" (as in, the common language in the region). I think it's a nice hack!

There are additional layers there, too. It's a magnificently complicated region. I can only implore you to visit and explore its distinctly bitter-sweet taste.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!