History of CA80 Microcomputer - tomsautomation

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History of CA80 Microcomputer

Translation: PL
The CA80 that I've build, was called the New CA80 version and was designed on double sided PCB in 1991. This was big progress towards initial CA80 version, build on few single sided PCBs in second half of 80's. Normally most of initial CA80 were versions without covers. Users were building own covers. I've found nicely done version of initial CA80 with professional cover on mkropa page. Cover was officially introduced and sold with the New CA80 and was adopted from programmable Elwro 190 calculator. If you are ready now to see this interesting cover please see the few unboxing photos of my CA80 below.
Mr. Stanislaw Gardynik, who was the architect of CA80 and owner of MIK company, managed to design and develop CA80 and full documentation by his own. He was employee of Polish Academy of Science (PAN - Polska Akademia Nauk) with very good background in electronics and computer science.
The adverts of CA80 kit were available in electronic and computer magazines. I still have a catalogue/leaflet that briefly describes the whole idea of Mr. Stanislaw:

"The educational controller CA80 and literature from MIK series are mainly targeting the people who "don't know the Ohm's law". Each year arrive around 500k of new potential users of CA80 - that's the number of young people ending primary school.
Documentation of CA80 assumes, that user can read and think logically - no basic knowledge of electronic or microelectronics is required. CA80 is the DIY microcomputer, therefore it's documentation starts from terms like Voltage, Current, Ohm's law and ends ... with interrupt system, emulator. Basic documentation it's a essence of knowledge about electronics and microelectronics. Understanding of MIK1 to MIK04 guarantees the passage of certain knowledge level, above which contact with microprocessor tech became joy and enables further effective self-education.
Each newbie programmer (I went through this by myself as well - says author) generates big number of "simple" errors. Only after years, he will reach a few errors per each 2kB of machine code and became professional programmer.
Due to above the most important, for newbie programmer, are best tools to run programs on full speed in target environment.
This type of tools are delivered by CA80!!!"

I've bought my first set of MIK documentation (MIK01 and MIK02) in early 90's, when I was 16 year old. Together with MIK03 and MIK04 those were forming the ABC and basic courses of electronics, microelectronics and digital gates. The logic state probe and simple breadboard with books and supplementary catalogues are presented on photos bellow.
It took me around 2 years to go through rest of the books. Reading and experimenting was really nice challenge. Further books were describing:
-> the CA80 architecture (MIK05),
-> assembly programming (MIK06) ,
-> full listing of CA80 operating system called THE MONITOR (V3.0 of source with comments was listed on 49 pages of MIK08),
-> the New CA80 architecture (MIK09),
-> super emulator MSID (MIK11).

Some people were wondering where was MIK07. I've found it being an appendix to MIK05 (page. 186) and reprinted again in MIK09 (chapter 7.5.4).
MIK07 was actually a description of Hardware Step Mode PCB (MIK07A), used to debug the CA80 in stepping mode with digital state probe. It helped me to do first startup of my CA80.
I'm still wondering if there was MIK10. That was another position not listed in official documentation/hardware pricelist. The only place where it has appeared was MIK09 table of contents. The title was naming MIK10 as the Microelectronics book. I believe it was book that was in progress of writing and therefore never published.

You can find the photograph of MIK07A hardware together with the rest of documentation bellow. Additionally please notice MIK10 annoucement in MIK09...
Finally at age of 18th I've build my New CA80. It did not worked when powered first time and I had to use the MIK07A. During startup testing, I've determined that one of the memory bus signals was grounded causing the CA80 not starting properly. It was really great experience to find this bug by my own, remove it and see the CA80 prompt on screen. :)

Let's have a quick look inside of the New CA80. Photos bellow present internal PCB's (double sided MIK290 mainboard PCB with MIK291 keyboard) inside the cover and few close-ups.
The New CA80 was available in DIY sets:
-> MIK188 - power supply PCB (with part set MIK188A),
-> MIK290 - mainboard PCB (with part sets MIK290A-E).
This two PCBs together with parts and MIK299 set (complete cover with keyboard (MIK291) and 8 digit 7 column lamp display), were forming the MIK300 - full DIY New CA80 set.
To run CA80 the RAM and EPROM with MONITOR OS were required. There were following options:
-> MIK33 - EPROM 2764 with MONITOR OS (8kB) for CA80,
-> MIK45 - EPROM 2732 with optional C800 MONITOR program,
-> MIK49 - EPROM 27128 with optional C930 MONITOR program,
-> MIK302 - maximum memory set: EPROM 2764 with MONITOR OS (8kB) + RAM 62256 (32kB).
It could be quite funny now, but at the time where the cassette payers and floppies were used to store programs , Mr. Stanislaw was offering free service to program the EPROMs. You could send the prepared code of program with EPROM by post, and afterwards author was sending it back to you programmed for use on CA80 microcomputer.

Regarding the basic applications for CA80, those were included in optional EPROMs. Few of them were using external PCBs via IOs of CA80. For apps described in MIK06, following DIY sets were available:
-> MIK50 - frequency meter/counter up to 100MHz,
-> MIK51 - computerized 'music box',
-> MIK86 - EPROM programmer,
-> MIK390 - the CA82 controller set (described in MIK11).
I still have in my collection few of them. Photograps follow bellow...
MIK company was also selling the independent products:
-> MIK64 - Computerised Door Bell (with 64 melodies),
-> MIK65 - Computerised Lights Controller (8 channels).

I was planning to start the CA82. If someone still has unused PCBs or kits from MIK please send me email using the contact form.
Hope you've enjoyed reading this short story of Polish CA80 microcomputer.
Page updated: 2016-04-03
 
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