Edward Loh – Editor in Chief January 2016
Edward Loh – Editor in Chief January 2016
As it can be read at Wikipedia, Home Brew Computers are generally a reference to games when they were not yet what they became when they came of age. With the help of my son, Pedro de Souza Campos, an electric and computer engineer, and a hands on person who made some bucks when in College assembling personal computers and having an unfulfilled dream of not becoming a games designer, let’s delve a little bit in the subject adding up to the above article of Wikipedia. The General Perspective can be seen as follows:
Intel was really meant to the Personal Computer, which became real as a product with the advent of the 8080 processor which was selected to the IBM PC, which exercised an orderly influence on the market, or the environment. Prior to the IBM PC, this market was created by the Zilog Z80 and the MOS 6502. As matter of fact, this market or environment was invented by Timex Sinclair 1000.
At this point in time the line between games and home computers was blurred, because there was a perception that one of the uses of home computers would be gaming. But before the existence of what today in the Windows is the bundle the Office, you had to perform all these tasks some how. An it was what Radio Shack did with its TRS 80 distributed by its home computers operation Tandy. The first TRS 80 was not well resolved (then its nickname Trash) but the model II was a huge success, sold in the millions. Its graphic package, when the memory was expanded to 64Kb was phenomenal and became a hit with its 16 colours, being clearly a better option than the Zilog Z80.
At this time, the games market was dominated by Atari with its 8 bit processor VCS 2600 in 1977 and some minor players such as Colecovision and Intellvision. Actually videogames would be pushing ahead technology in other areas.
The existence of Zilog Z80 and MOS 6502 gave birth to intelligent Video Games Consoles, and the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games came to an end and the second generation of video game consoles formatted the market which would sell in the hundred thousands to reach millions. A comprehensive list and the details about them can be seen in the above articles.
The best-selling console of the second generation is by far the Atari 2600 at 30 million units. As of 1990, the Intellivision had sold 3 million units, a number around 1 million higher than the Odyssey2 sales, and the ColecoVision‘s total sales at 2 million units by April 1984, eight times the number of purchases for the Fairchild Channel F within one year, which was 250,000 units.
After this excellent start the video game market “crashed” and the basic reason was that home computers started to come of age. In this period home computers, such as TK 85, Commodore Vic 20, were BASIC language oriented but with the advent of Intel 8087 Home computers became more powerful and more able to deal with graphics and other needs of video games, no to mention that the clock speed wasn’t anymore the measure of computer power. In its place the industry started to measure performance in FLOPS, acording do IEE 754-1985, from which Intel 8087 was the first processor to be designed and many revolutionary processors also appeared giving birth to machines such as Apple II, Commodore PET, TRS-80 Model I, IBM XT which handled colour graphics extremely well and also numerical problems so necessary to video games.
This was perhaps the golden era of opportunities because the home computer was starting to come of age and perhaps the greatest opportunity any company ever lost was IBM, when it decided to insist in its MS DOS instead of going to the then incipient Windows, which according to urban tales was offered to IBM by Bill Gates, which invented it.
In this period also it was launched the Nintendo Entertainment System (commonly abbreviated as NES) is an 8-bit home video game console that was developed and manufactured by Nintendo.
The Computer Processor was becoming Microprocessor and a whole bunch of them became available.
Microsoft also marketed in Japan its MSX operating system, which never reached the USA and was superseded in Japan by f Nintendo‘s Family Computer, as it was already mentioned, these new processors and chipsets brought amazing machines such as the Commodore 64, Apple 2 and Tandy TRS 80 and IBM PC XT.
At the same time Home Entertainment was coming of age. CD’s, Laser Discs and later DVD’s were particularly useful for Video Games.
When the technology didn’t allow per se, it was used, with the help of CD’s, a full motion video (FMV) which is a video game narration technique that relies upon pre-recorded video files (rather than sprites, vectors, or 3D models) to display action in the game. While many games featured FMVs as a way to present information during cutscenes, games that were primarily presented through FMVs and were referred to as full-motion video games or interactive movies.
The introduction of the Motorola MC68000 processor was a leap ahead and high graphic processing capacity computers such as Comodore Amiga, Atari ST and Apple GS come to existence. It starts to become available 16 Bit processing, bringing down to home use a much more sophisticated mathematical capacity and what was then called memory direct access. The videogame industry pushes the technology to the limit with the Sega Genesis in 1988 with its 8 MHZ nominal processing over the MC68000 16 bits processor. Motorola’s version was called the MC68HC000, while Hitachi’s was the HD68HC000. The 68HC000 was eventually offered at speeds of 8–20 MHz. Nintendo follows with its Super Famicon Games and SNES in 1989 and in Japan there was the introduction of the 16 bits WD CPU clocking 4GHZ. Despite inferior speed, its graphic unit was revolutionary offering for the first time 3D processing, zoom and rotation, which has never been seen before. The Computer Market was reaching its limits with Amiga ST 1000 and McIntosh Apple with a ticket price over 3.000 dollars then, which was how much it would cost a Camaro… That’s when the Personal Computer as such becomes of age. IBM was leading this segment. That’ s when larger capacity disk drives (up to 1.44Mb) became available. CD Rom technology became popular allowing larger capacity and more complicated applications to be offered (740 Mb).
Improving over the Intel 80286, and its product IBM PC AT , Compaq was first to use the Intel 80386 in April 1986 and it marked the first CPU change to the PC platform that was not initiated by IBM. It was reverse engineering, but done legally. An IBM 386 machine eventually reached the market seven months later, but by that time Compaq was the 386 supplier of choice and IBM had lost its image of technical leadership. This paradigm breakup was followed in May, 22 1990 by Microsoft which announces its Windows 3.0. These computers evolved to use the Intel 80287 and 80387, which had co processing power together with totally linear access to the memory, which would improve the floating point commands to accelerate matemathical processing. The Graphics evolve from pallets to 16 colours EGA and 256 colours VGA. Storage is improved with the use of 10 and 20MB hard drives. This led to a massification of notebooks selling due to the improved portability. The progress continued with the introduction of the 80486 and Motorola’s equivalent for Apple the Motorola 68040 . It was a time of enormous progress, perhaps the biggest for a time lapse and the family of processors based in the 80486 expanded and upgraded to the following:
Intel dropped the 80 in the “80487”, which was called i487SX (P23N) and was marketed as a floating point unit coprocessor for Intel i486SX machines, because of Court ruling. The next family would have a Latin name, Pentium, which would be the new naming system Intel adopted. A 50 MHz 80486 executes around 40 million instructions per second on average and is able to reach 50 MIPS peak performance. The Pentium machines would reach 300 MHZ in the near future. It was also introduced the Pentium MMX, designed to run faster when playing multimedia applications. According to Intel, a PC with this processor runs a multimedia application up to 60% faster than one with having the same clock speed but without MMX.
1994 saw the appearance of a new player in the computer games industry: Sony, which brooke up a Nintendo partnership. Sony introduced its Playstation, under a architecture breakthrough: RISC, powered by its 32 bits processor R3000A, which runs at 32MHZ. It became possible for the first time the processing of polygons in 3 dimensions with only 2MB of memory.
In the 1994-1996 the Internet changed from a scientific and governmental research network to a commercial and consumer marketplace and exploded. IBM ruled the market and Apple almost went bankrupt, re inventing itself with the new iMac, very strong in graphics applications. Windows introduces the 98e and Apple invests in verticalization of its iOS System in all of their platforms. MP3 music compression format is born, together with the DVD, with its high video compression storage technology.
64 bits architecture sets in and video games expands to 64 bits. Intel takes over with its Pentium and Celeron chips with speeds up to 1GHZ. Storage goes up in the gigabyte sizes with DVD’s reaching their peak at 84GB with two layers of storage. RAM memories expands to 1 & 2 GB. Notebooks became even smaller and their batteries stand up to more hours than ever. IDE comes to an end and USB takes over.
Apple releases its iPhone with their cortex processors. iMacs use their series A processors.
Storage devices start disappearing going solid state, such as Pen Drives and HDD’s.
New video games platforms come up, such as SEGA Dreamcast ( Hitachi Architecture SH4), Playstation 2 (Still with Risc5900 now called Emotion Engine, with a 300MHz speed) and Nintendo 64 (NEC VR 100MHZ).
Sega Dreamcast was a 128 bit machine and there were doubts if it really was so. Take a look at this video about it.
Microsoft launches itsXbox for games, with a 32 bits Intel processor on a 700MHZ clock, which is essentially a PC. Performance now is measured under the floating point criteria. Blue Ray DVD’s come to existence together with 50 GB HD SVD, with two layers, managing 1080 Full HD images.
Cathode Ray Tube screen TV’s come to an end replaced by Large Screen Television Technology. Internet speed goes up in the Megabyte class allowing large scale use in new fashion network social programs such as Facebook , ,WhatsApp and many others, etc. Not to mention that pre recorded media such as movies goes up to the clouds with 1080 P Full HD quality. The Personal Computer Division of IBM is bought by the Chinese Lenovo and the IBM logo disappear from Thinkpad. IBM follows up announcing that now it is a service dedicated company and no longer a Computer Manufacturing Organization. Arcades come to an end, being the technology used in PC’s or dedicated platforms managing to bring up similar quality. Microsoft introduces its most popular Windows ever, the XP. Wifi and Bluetooth takes over in the streaming scene.
Decade of Mobility – Giants announce the end or decline of their manufacturing operations. In 1965, manufacturing accounted for 53 percent of the economy. By 1988 it only accounted for 39 percent, and in 2004, it accounted for just 9 percent.
It is not different in the computer business including cell phones, once that they became miniaturized computers capable of doing anything the big computers of some decades ago use to do.
Lenovo buysMotorola. Take a look why. Nokia is bought by Microsoft . Take a look why. Microsoft tries unsuccessfully to launch the Windows platform in the cell phone scene. Apple launches iPad and Touch Screen. Samsumg and Apple dominates 90% of the cell phone market. Digital technology mobility becomes available with the advent of 3G. Motorola goes touch screen with its Surface Technology.
CD’s and DVD’s renting model of business is terminated. Blockbuster goes out of business. Norway announces that it will shut down its FM network.
Cloud based computing takes over. Radio Shack goes bankrupt. Steve Jobs dies. Apple becomes the mos valuable brand in the planet.
The video games market is left to three companies: Sony and its Playstation 4, Microsoft and its Xbox One and Nintendo “kind of lost” between its WiiU sales fiasco and its new Switch concept. 4K Technology comes to TV with its 4096 lines of resolution.
Electric cars not only are succeeding, such as Tesla, but are the only way with Volvo announcing the ending of its internal combustion engines being completely replaced by electrical ones by 2020. Cars become more “intelligent” with embarked technology. This is where we stand now and a perfect way to peek in to the future is the January 2016 issue of Motor Trend, when they announced their coveted Car, Truck, SUV and person of the year, from which I separated the report on the Google self-driving car (SDC).