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E > ECD CORPORATION > Micromind   


The Micromind was a very innovative machine ahead of its time ! But despite the small group working on the machine, prototyping and developing, and pushing the limits of the time, the machine never shipped. Apparently only a few prototypes were produced.

Development began as early 1975/1976 but commercial adverts appeared only in 1977.

One of the main features of the Micromind was its innovative (for the time) redefinable characters. Up to 120 characters could be software redefined by the user in a 8x12 dot matrix. These characters could be displayed as 20 or 40 lines of 15 to 120 characters per line !

Graphic resolution was 120 lines x 160 columns, each pixel individually settable.

Another innovation was its interconnect bus that allowed the use of up to 15 processors working in parallel on the same system ! This multi-processor feature was an interesting concept, but never delivered.

About this features, the original designer (JSL) reports:
"That limit was pretty much dictated by the bus capacitance; the drivers could not drive any more inputs (and wire) than that. The global address space was 26 bits, or 64 megabytes, while a processor board only contained 16 kilobytes (later this may have been extended when bigger DRAMs became available). We spanned the 1K to 4K to 16K transitions, I think.

With an additional interface to bridge or network several such systems, we envisioned up to 1000 processors. We could hardly advertise such vaporware (we were already farther out on a limb than we understood, but without even a working prototype, even we could see the folly of announcing it)."

The computer was expandable up to 64Mb, at a time when 64KB was considered more than most people would ever need...

It was possible to connect up to 4 tape recorders.

Bob Frankston (author of Visicalc) wrote the Basic interpreter.
Richard Eckhardt was one of the developpers.

In June 1977, Avakian Systems Corp ordered 1000 Micromind II systems from ECD Corp.

The company went out of business because of a single (large) customer cancelling their order (was it Avakian?), and the resulting cash crunch drive the company into bankruptcy.

After the advert in Byte magazine, some people ordered and paid their Micromind, but never got any computer. Some of them got their refund, but not all of them...

A few people who got early systems ended up using them for interesting projects. The early machines were wire-wrapped, and the PCB version of the Micromind wasn’t able to be completed in time.

Apparently some games were produced during the development process of the Micromind:
- ANIMATED SPACE WAR, a version of Spacewar!
- a chess Game
- LIFE, an implementation of Conway's game of life

We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system, please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
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Really Nice Website. Good articles. Thanks

Thursday 25th August 2022
Custom Tees (Los Angeles)


NAME  Micromind
TYPE  Home Computer
YEAR  1977
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  notsoBasic language from ECD
KEYBOARD  80 key software-definable keyboard
CPU  MOS Technology 6502
RAM  8 KB (up to 64 MB!)
TEXT MODES  20 or 40 lines x 15 to 120 characters
GRAPHIC MODES  120 x 160
I/O PORTS  I/O interface board, video output, tape interface (3200 bits/s), interconnect bus
PRICE  $987.54 (USA, 1977)

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