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Thread: This time, it's personal computers

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: under God's grace

    This time, it's personal computers

    Do you remember those awesome personal computers from the 80s and 90s? Commodore 64, Amiga and why not MSX as well. The thing that made them so magical to me was that they came with a manual along with a datasheet and circuit diagrams that explained how they and their chips work and how you can program them. Today's PCs aren't really that personal. If you buy an Asus or HP computer, all you get is a slim manual that has Windows quick start instructions.

    Well, there's the Raspberry Pi for sure, and that thing is awesome, especially the 400, which is a keyboard with a RPi4 SoC inside, so very reminiscent of those personal computers of old. But, the GPU isn't exactly open or documented. At least I haven't been able to find documentation for the hardware interface and what all the registers do etc. However, there is a Vulkan driver that one can read through to see how the GPU MMIO works, so not bad.

    Then we have certain Intel chips that come with an iGPU, and those things are fully documented. So I've been toying with the idea of buying a cheap Intel NUC and learning how to write a simple OS for it. First just getting it to boot. Then like switch to VGA mode and draw pixels on the screen. And eventually draw a hardware accelerated triangle.

    Any toy OS experience among TTLG, or love for personal PC-computers?

  2. #2
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Was also a fan of the personal computers in the late early 80s - the Apple II and the ZX81 were the ones that got me into programming and indirectly led to my career in engineering.

    Years ago I wrote a (very simple) OS for the PC platform from the ground up. Learning about protected mode memory management, drive controllers, filesystem handling, network cards etc. was extremely educational. Certainly encourage you to find a platform that has hardware documentation and getting even something basic working, particularly if you can repurpose the hardware for other uses if / when you move on.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Berghem Haven
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    if you can repurpose the hardware for other uses if / when you move on.
    Self destruction ?

  4. #4
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Not quite what I was meaning, hopefully any experiments are not fatal

  5. #5

  6. #6
    My computer is VERY VERY personal. Anyone who lives around me knows EXACTLY that.

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