SIM8-01 based prototype of the MCM/70

Dublin Core

Title

SIM8-01 based prototype of the MCM/70

Subject

computer hardware: microcomputer

Description

Historical context (by Z. Stachniak)
The MCS-8 microcomputer set was announced by Intel in late 1971.

Everyone in systems engineering has been waiting for the under \$100 computer. Today it's here! [the alternative, Intel, 1971]

The set consisted of a single-chip CPU—the 8-bit 8008 microprocessor—and standard semiconductor ROM's, RAM's, and shift registers. It was the MCS-8 and, in particular, its first implementation in Intel's SIM8-01 prototyping system that generated the first wave of design activities aimed at the development of microprocessor based architectures for general purpose programmable computers. In just a few months, the prototypes of such computers powered by the 8008 chip were already working on site at the French company Réalisations et Études Électroniques located in the suburbs of Paris and at Micro Computer Machines (MCM) with headquarters situated on the outskirts of Toronto. These firms fully recognized, articulated, and acted upon the immense potential of the budding microprocessor technology for the development of a new generation of cost effective computing systems. However, it was MCM which built the first microprocessor-based computer designed specifically for personal use — the MCM/70, the first PC.

The SIM8-01 was marketed as a complete prototyping system for the development of MCS-8 applications. It was offered in April 1972 and, at that time, its schematic diagram included in the premiere edition of the 8008 8-Bit Parallel Central Processor Unit manual was the only published design of an 8-bit computer with a single-chip CPU. It was inevitable that MCM would use the SIM8-01 to attempt at implementing the core features of the company's future PC. In mid-1972 MCM’s chief hardware engineer Jose Laraya built the first prototype of the MCM/70. His computer utilized an Intel SIM8-01 simulation board as well as an Intel MP7-02 Eprom programmer which was used by MCM's software engineer Gord Ramer during the development of the MCM/APL interpreter that the production model of the MCM/70 would feature. Although the SIM8-01 architecture proved inadequate to achieve MCM’s design objectives, this first prototype confirmed that building a versatile microprocessor-based computer was feasible.

The official announcement of the MCM/70 came on September 25, 1973, in Toronto. Its manufacturing commenced in mid 1974.

Recommended readings:
  • Stachniak, Z.  Inventing the PC: the MCM/70 Story , McGill-Queen's University Press (2011).
  • Stachniak, Z. Intel SIM8-01: A proto-PC IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, January-March 2007 (vol. 29 no. 1), pp. 34—48.

Creator

Micro Computer Machines

Date

1972

Coverage

Ontario, Canada, 1972

Files

1st_prototype.jpg

Citation

Micro Computer Machines, “SIM8-01 based prototype of the MCM/70,” York University Computer Museum Canada, accessed July 19, 2024, https://museum.eecs.yorku.ca/items/show/341.

Output Formats