This reminds me of my days in the beginning of my career ( 1975-79) as a controls engineer in the Atomic Energy department of Govt of India.
We had a control system built for fully automatic remote operation of fuel handling system of nuclear reactor.
The complete control logic having the interlock logic and the sequencing logic of the refueling operation was built using LOGIC cards, Each card of the size of a postcard contained 3 or 4 Nand or Nor gates. There were some special cards for timers and delays. There must be about a couple of hundred of those cards mounted on a series of huge racks and hardwired to create the required parallel and sequential logic along with the input sensor wires coming from the machine and associated process loop, wires from panel push buttons for operator commands and output wires to various actuators on the machine and the lamps on the control panel.
When we first converted the whole logic into a computer software program, it was hailed as the most prestigious project in our department.
Now a small FPGA can contain all that logic and related electronics on a small card. or a standard rack mounted PLC can handle all this kind of parallel and sequential logic.
Oh, yes I remember Before FPGAs. I designed RTL logic in high school using discrete transistors and resistors and it was very limiting what I could do. When I discovered 7400 series logic -- and could suddenly design at the gate and block level -- it was utterly terrific. I particularly liked 74LSxxx -- reasonable power consumption and nice slow edges. Didn't have to worry about transmission lines and ground bounce. In fact, I remember a time in 1992 when we had a terrible ground bounce problem between two boards with lots of data lines and not enough grounds. Replacing the 74ACT245s with some 74LS245s I had in my parts cabinet did the trick!
So yes, I remember the 74x00 and '08 pinouts, and how 74x02 was different, and the difference between the 74x161 and '163, and how nice it was when the 74x541 came out with such a better pinout than the 74x244. It's nice to see the same numbers used over and over with TinyLogic and such.
I love that book! It has all those smiling PALs in anthropomorphic DIP packages. I'm pretty sure I still have my copy. I may also have a copy of the Signetic FPLA data book, which I believe predates MMI PALs.
The first PLDs I ever designed with were MMI PALs. Next I did a bit of work with Intel EPLDs, which Intel second-sourced from Altera for a while. UV-erasable! I did a bunch of design with AMD Mach 1 and 2 CPLDs (AMD had acquired MMI). AMD later sold the Mach products to Lattice. Nowadays I like Xilinx XC9572XL for CPLDs.
My first real FPGA was Altera 6000 series, which was quite nice especially since I could write the design in AHDL -- so much cleaner than VHDL or Verilog IMO. Later on I did Xilinx Spartan II, IIE, and 3A. Most current designs are Spartan 3A, which is a very nice architecture.
I'm still waiting for an FPGA that I can program using my own open-source tools.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.