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Max The Magnificent
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Does anyone know...
Max The Magnificent   12/19/2013 3:03:09 PM
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If anyone has any interesting tidbits of trivia relating to the history of programmable logic in general and FPGAs in particular, it would be great to see them posted here as comments.

studleylee
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Monolithic Memories
studleylee   12/19/2013 4:41:21 PM
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I have the original PLD book from Monolithic Memories I bought at the UofDelaware bookstore new knowing I would need it. It had the sourcecode for the pld compiler in it PALASM. I think I actually type it all in trying to compile it. PALS were great for glue back in the day. Happy Christmas all.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Monolithic Memories
Max The Magnificent   12/19/2013 5:02:56 PM
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@studleylee: I have the original PLD book from Monolithic Memories

Oooh -- I would love to have that in my collection :-)

Happy Christmas to you and yours

antedeluvian
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Re: Monolithic Memories
antedeluvian   12/19/2013 8:46:52 PM
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Max

Oooh -- I would love to have that in my collection :-)

You could have it and much, much more if you look at my data archive. I know, I know- you want it in the flesh, so it can sit on your bookshelf.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Monolithic Memories
Max The Magnificent   12/20/2013 11:04:57 AM
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@Antedeluvian: I know, I know- you want it in the flesh, so it can sit on your bookshelf.

You know me too well LOL

studleylee
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Re: Monolithic Memories
studleylee   12/19/2013 10:56:15 PM
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@Max : I'll grab it out of my tractortrailer storage menagerie tomorrow morning. Let me know where to send it. It willl be better appreciated on your shelf than wasting away in my truck :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Monolithic Memories
Max The Magnificent   12/20/2013 11:10:04 AM
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@Studleylee: I'll grab it out of my tractortrailer storage menagerie tomorrow morning. Let me know where to send it. It willl be better appreciated on your shelf than wasting away in my truck :-)


Really? Wow! That would be wonderful. I promise to treat it with the love and resprect it deserves. My office shipping address is:

 

Max The Magnificent

The Pleasure Dome

495 Production Avenue

Madison, AL 35758

USA, Third Rock from the Sun

 

John Birkner
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Re: Monolithic Memories
John Birkner   12/20/2013 1:27:59 PM
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Max, back in the day, we had a lot of fun putting the PALMAN figures in the PAL Handbook. It was a novel idea at the time. I remember MMI CEO, Ze'ev Drori, storming into my office in a rage about putting cartoons into a serious publication such as a databook. I persuaded him that engineers would enjoy it and, in the end, PALMAN proved very popular, lasting five more editions.
Thanks for memories of MMI "In the Beginning" by Ron Wilson with Don Faria's quote,"So we began to partition the interconnect," which led the path to FPGAs.

 



 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Monolithic Memories
Max The Magnificent   12/20/2013 2:15:54 PM
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@John Birkner: I remember MMI CEO, Ze'ev Drori, storming into my office in a rage about putting cartoons into a serious publication such as a databook.

It's funny how folks used to be so uptight about stuff lik ethat. I love technology, but I really don;t enjoy reading boring techo-articles or books or whatever -- I like stuff with personality and flavor and the odd quip and nuggets of knowledge and tidbits of trivia...

studleylee
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Re: Monolithic Memories
studleylee   1/2/2014 2:14:59 PM
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@Max   You should have the book soon. -Lee

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Monolithic Memories
Max The Magnificent   1/2/2014 2:57:10 PM
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@Studleylee: You should have the book soon.

That is very, very kind of you (I've got a spot for it cleared on my bookshelves :-) Thank you so much for this -- Max

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Monolithic Memories
Max The Magnificent   1/3/2014 2:15:38 PM
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@Studleylee: You should have the book soon.

It just arrived on my desk -- the bookshelves will have to wait because I'm skiming through it :-)

Once again, thank you so much for this!!!

betajet
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Re: Monolithic Memories
betajet   12/19/2013 7:03:38 PM
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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.

antedeluvian
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Before FPGAs
antedeluvian   12/19/2013 8:51:07 PM
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Max

 Do you recall the days BF ("Before FPGAs"), or did you not commence your engineering career until AF ("After FPGAs")?

Dare I remind you of the "How it was: Programmable Logic" series you did a while back

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Before FPGAs
Max The Magnificent   12/20/2013 11:06:47 AM
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@Antedeluvian: Dare I remind you of the "How it was: Programmable Logic" series you did a while back

How coudl I forget -- I still wake up screaming in the middle of the night when I recall your "Then & Now" photographs LOL



betajet
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Ah, the good old days of 74LSxxx
betajet   12/19/2013 9:28:28 PM
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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.

David Ashton
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Re: Ah, the good old days of 74LSxxx
David Ashton   12/19/2013 9:52:37 PM
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@betajet....Good heavens, I didn't think there was anyone else left who knew that RTL stands for Resistor-Transistor-Logic :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ah, the good old days of 74LSxxx
Max The Magnificent   12/20/2013 11:07:35 AM
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@David: I didn't think there was anyone else left who knew that RTL stands for Resistor-Transistor-Logic.

Well, there's me for one.

KarlS01
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Re: Ah, the good old days of 74LSxxx
KarlS01   12/20/2013 11:16:17 AM
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Hi, David:  IBM developed Solid Logic Technology for System 360.  Ceramic substrates with thin film resistors and transistors mounted on the substrate with solder balls. 

Typically there were six modules on a pc card about 2" square plugged edge wise onto a board about 10" x 12".

Logic diagrams were hand drawn and translated by key punch operators onto punched cards.  The Design Automation program would print Automated Logic Diagrams using a special chain on a 1403(?) printer.

That was my first exposure to an HDL.  There was a wiring/router program that generated the land patterns for the printed circuit "board".

 

prabhakar_deosthali
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Re:
prabhakar_deosthali   12/20/2013 1:39:57 AM
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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.

 

 

 

 

TonyTib
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Silicon Valley Oral HIstory
TonyTib   12/20/2013 12:30:55 PM
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Max,

Have you ever checked out Silicon Genisis: An Oral History of Silicon Valley?  There's some good stuff in there, including some funny stories about Jerry Saunders.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Silicon Valley Oral HIstory
Max The Magnificent   12/20/2013 1:33:09 PM
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@TontTib: Have you ever checked out Silicon Genisis: An Oral History of Silicon Valley?  There's some good stuff in there, including some funny stories about Jerry Saunders.

I haven;t -- I want to -- my problem is lack of time (sad face)

KB3001
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BF vs. AF
KB3001   12/21/2013 8:41:09 AM
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I remember the first time I heard of FPGAs, way back at university. I instantly fell in love with the concept in the same way I fell in love with the concept of a Turing machine when I first heard of it. There was something empowering about it: the ability to build any logic circuit you want (within reason!), configure it, test it, run it, and do it all over again of need be for a completely different problem.



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