This is where I spent a lot of time with my first REAL computer. I had actually started with a single-chip RCA 1802 processor back in 1978, but I got tired of doing hand-assembly. This baby was my trusty Z80 with a whopping 64K of RAM, two 8" floppys, memory mapped video, and re-purposed CMX keyboard! I could program my own special function keys with a few jumper wires! I built a graphics board for it with the NEC chip that did Bresenhams algorithm in hardware, and taught myself a lot. All my programming was in assembly language, I burned my own PROMs, and I could easily whip up a board to control anything. Eventually, I turned the box into a real-time video tape editor. I still love the simplicity of a system like this.
This was another wierd and wonderful project I took on with Jim Ryan, and Peter Koczera. I had attended the DiscoVision auction and bought one of the first Quantel full-color framebuffer systems. You may remember DiscoVision was the joint venture between IBM, MCA, and somebody else to develop the laserdisc. They basically got everything figured out, and were all fired and the technology was licensed to the Japanese. There was a huge building full of video, laser, optical, and other bizzarre one of a kind items, including this Quantel framestore system. They had used it as a diagnostic tool to analyze video from their prototype laserdisc players. That entire rack of equipment in the background is it. I wrote a soft-brush paint system that allowed you to grab NTSC video, paint it, and record it out to videotape. Of course that's old hat today, but in 1983 it was a pretty big deal. You could even paint ONLY the luminance, leaving the chroma alone, or vice versa. This was before Quantel had even come out with their Paintbox. The software ran in 32K words of CORE on that strange Computer Automation mini below the buffers in the rack. The great thing about this system was that you could power it off..... and come back weeks later and power it back on, and pick right up where you'd left off!
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