In my last blog I spoke of my admiration for a man who built a simple working computer using TTL chips. This computer is fantastic for teaching/learning how computers work.

Imagine, therefore, my admiration for a man who built a REAL computer using TTL chips. By “real”, I mean that it:

  • Runs a port of the MINIX operating system
  • Is multi-user and multi-tasking
  • Is connected to the Internet
  • Has a front panel with loads of LEDs and switches (like me, Bill believes that this is crucial)
  • Users can Telnet on to it over the Internet!

The creator, Bill Buzbee, is a genius. He did both the hardware AND the software. He says that he did it because he wanted to learn more about hardware. He certainly did that, including learning how to “wire wrap”.

The software includes:

  • C compiler, Assembler, Linker
  • TCP/IP stack
  • A set of utilities
  • A set of games

Bill had to do EVERYTHING – even creating his own instruction set! It’s an amazing accomplishment.

Only one user can Telnet onto the computer at a time, but I managed to do so the other day. It’s incredible to think that that I was running a game on a computer which someone has built and programmed all on his own!

Here is a video of the computer “coming alive” (as Bill puts it) in 2004.

And here is a link to his YouTube channel.

And here is a long (almost an hour) video where Bill explains everything about the computer, which he calls “Magic-1”: