MOD 8 Microcomputer

Dublin Core

Title

MOD 8 Microcomputer

Subject

hardware: microcomputer

Description

Historical Context
(by Z. Stachniak)

In October of 1968, with $48 million package from the Canadian Treasury Board, Northern Electric transformed its Advanced Devices Center into a new company called Microsystems International Ltd. (MIL). In March of 1969, MIL opened its doors with its headquarters in Montreal and the manufacturing facility in Ottawa. The company's focus was to be on new semiconductor technologies and products. In a short period of time, MIL acquired state of the art integrated circuit technologies and the second source rights to a number of products. The company's memory products, such as MF1101, MF1103, MF1701, or MF1702, and the MF8008 microprocessor, placed the company among the semiconductor leaders on the international market.

Between 1970 and 1972, MIL developed and manufactured Canada's first microprocessor -- the MF7114. It also produced three microcomputers: the CPS/1 system designed around the MF7114 microprocessor as well as the MOD8 and the MOD80 microcomputers. The MOD8, developed in 1974, was based on the MIL MF8008 8-bit microprocessor. This computer (as well as its refinement -- the MOD80) consisted of the MOD8-8 PCB backplane mounted on top of an aluminum case, and several cards inserted into the backplane's connectors. These cards provided the CPU, memory, interface, and I/O functions. The backplane also contained built-in EPROM programmer. The MIL MOD80 microcomputer had the same architecture as the MOD8 with the exception of the CPU module. While the MOD8 employed the MF8008 microprocessor, the MOD80 was built around the MIL MF8080 CPU (a clone of the Intel 8080).

The MOD8 computer and its MONITOR8 software were aimed at the development of the MF8008-based applications. To MIL's surprise, it was the North American computer enthusiasts who made the MOD8 a popular 8008-based microcomputer kit in the second half of the 1970s. MIL's MF8008 Applications Manual was one of the most widely read early documents on 8-bit microprocessors. The MOD8 influenced other early microcomputer designs for the hobbyists' market such as the Mike2 computer from Martin Research or a range of C-MOD computers from Celetron Corporation which were sold by MiniMicroMart of Syracuse, NY.

The company closed its operations in June 1975. However, MIL's demise seeded the Canadian high-technology sector with scores of semiconductor, computer, and telecommunications start-ups founded by former MIL employees. The MOD8 and MOD80 microcomputers continued to be sold by companies such as Great Northern Computers Ltd., Moducomp Inc., and HRB (Goderich, ON).

Museum holdings

For the MOD8 and MOD80 museum holdings, consult the MIL collection.

Creator

Microsystems International Ltd. (MIL)

Date

1974

Relation

MIL collection

Identifier

H.37

Coverage

1974-1977 in North America

Contribution Form

Online Submission

No

Files

MOD8_yucom.jpg
mf8008b.png

Citation

Microsystems International Ltd. (MIL), “MOD 8 Microcomputer,” York University Computer Museum Canada, accessed June 15, 2024, https://museum.eecs.yorku.ca/items/show/61.

Output Formats