Ryerson 6800 Microcomputer

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Ryerson 6800 Microcomputer


computer hardware: educational computer


Historical context:

Microprocessor-based computers (microcomputers) were built at educational institutions as soon as the first 8-bit microprocessors became commercially available. They were initially constructed  as educational aids, as microprocessor trainers, and even as digital laboratory workstations set up at some universities to expose students to the principles of the emerging discipline of microprocessor systems design.

These early educational microcomputers  were built around microprocessor demonstration boards offered by semiconductor companies as a low cost hardware aid to assist systems engineers in programming microprocessor-based devices. In 1973, Intel offered its SIM-8 demonstration board. Soon after other semiconductor companies offered their demonstration boards to support their microprocessors: Microsystems International Ltd. introduced its MOD-8 demonstrator in 1974, Motorola released its MEK 6800 in 1976 and so did MOS Technology and NEC which offered their demonstrators (the KIM-1 and the TK-80, respectively)  in the same year. In the 1970s, these demonstrators were popular with computer hobbyists.

The Ryerson 6800 microcomputer was designed and constructed in the late 1970s at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Toronto Metropolitan University) to support its digital electronics course. According to a former Ryerson professor Peter Hiscocks. "The unit was put together to support the teaching of microprocessors when that was brand new in the EE curriculum  at Ryerson. The person that put the unit together was Augustine [Lee], I believe." The course was coordinated by Jack Miller and taught by, among other instructors, Augustine Lee and Doug Hawkes.

The Ryerson 6800  was built around the Motorola MEK 6800D2 demonstration board. It was one of several single-board microcomputers used by students of Ryerson's Electrical Technology Department.

Technical Specifications (for the MEK 6800D2):
  • CPU - Motorola 6800, 8-bit
  • RAM - 1KB (4 x MCM 6810AP)
  • ROM - SCM44520L with JBUG Monitor
  • PORTS - asynchronous serial RS232, parallel I/O, audio cassette tape interface
  • keypad -  hexadecimal: 16 keys for data entry section and 8 function keys
  • display - 6 hex digit LED display.

Software: Motorola 6800 JBUG Monitor


Motorola and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute






Toronto, Canada





Motorola and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, “Ryerson 6800 Microcomputer,” York University Computer Museum Canada, accessed May 29, 2024, https://museum.eecs.yorku.ca/items/show/334.

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