- Run on minimal and improvised machines.
- Interface through improvised means (serial, keyboard, display).
- Edit text files.
- Compile assembler source files for a wide range of MCUs and CPUs.
- Read and write from a wide range of storage devices.
- Replicate itself.
@dirtycommo @yogthos @ajroach42
I think the decline in the use of 16 bit microcontrollers in the last 10 years and the paucity of efficient 16 bit designs would probably be an issue an issue if semiconductor technology was restarting by replicating 8 bit designs. A 16 bit CISC design like the 8088 has nearly as many transistors (29k) as a 32 bit RISC design (A6, 35k), so developing 16 bit computing could be a hiccup in recovery unless effort is made to ensure a viable technology is documented. This might be a start...
@yogthos interesting :D
@yogthos on the one hand I'm pretty sure if civilization collapses, getting a basic computer to work with spare parts would be the last of your worries.
On the other hand this project is far too much fun for me to dismiss for rational reasons.
If I were going to build something like this, I'd probably go with something in the neighborhood of Forth. An interactive building-block language whose bottom layer can bang on hardware but also provides high-level features written in itself.
So something that you can keep building on as long as you have resources but will work at whatever level you stop at.
Eg. try watching a few old episodes of the BBC's computer education stuff. It's from an era where personal computers were just beginning to become popular and it's very interesting to hear the stories of how computerization gave businesses an edge.
My theory is that even if we went full Fallout-style-post-apocalyptic, the communities that could maintain their communication infrastructure and use computers to plan and optimize workflows would have an edge over those who don't.
@grainloom @bamfic @polychrome I agree, even basic computing provides huge benefits in terms of organization and planning. Computers can also provide a knowledge base. For example, there are offline Wikipedia backups, and they're only 79 gigs or so. Having access to all that information would be a huge benefit.
I'm pretty sure there will be an ample supply of >386 hardware available to run Linux on.
@suetanvil realistically yeah, but I think there's value in having a simple and self contained system that's relatively easy to understand and maintain.
Life will be pretty different without having the internet at your finger tips.
I think what bothers me is that it's retro for its own sake. If we were forced to go back to 1980-era hardware, it would still be more advanced than it was then because we've learned a lot more about software and HCI.
We understand the power of high-level languages these days in a way they didn't really grok back then.
@suetanvil yeah that's a good point, abandoning all the legacy assumptions would result in a much cleaner system
@yogthos It's about time someone started coding with apocalypse tolerance in mind.
@bamfic oh I've heard of him, but haven't actually read his book. Any good?
@yogthos My only concern with this project is the requirement for 56K of RAM. This is an obscene amount of memory to expect to find when scavenging. It also complicates address decoding, which means a harder to build computer.
I would have preferred to see 16KB or 32KB being the basis configuration, something where a single NAND gate can form the basis of an address decoder. (This is how I built my Kestrel-1 SBC prototype, for example.)
@yogthos a simple computer that anyone can program would be very useful in a post-whatever scenario.
I mean, it would be useful now.
I think the most important thing is that it needs to be simple enough that anyone can easily learn how to utilize all of it's capability. This was common in early personal computers.
Not saying we can't improve using what we've learned since then, but I think it's very easy to underestimate the value of simplicity and accessibility by rationalizing the use of "modern" computing techniques.
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