Guy Builds 8-bit Computer from ScratchThere are hacks and there are hacks. And this is one epic hack. Kyle Hovey got it in his head that he wanted to make a steampunk computer complete with Numitron tubes for display and 8-bit architecture. That would be cool enough if he had used a commercially available 8-bit processor. But no, Kyle built the computer himself, hardcoding the transistors with wires and lots of cleverness. Best of all, he has a complete walkthrough about how he made the project.
Speaking of the design process, Kyle wrote on his site 8BitSpaghetti:
I set out to learn as much as I could about how to build an 8-bit computer and soon found that looking back to the invention of the computer was the way to go. I emailed the creator of the Magic-1 computer to get some advice on where to start. He pointed me to a textbook from the late ’70s: Digital Computer Electronics by Albert Malvino. Without that book this entire project would not have been possible.
If you are looking to build your own 8-bit computer I highly recommend purchasing this book. It starts at the bare logic level and moves on up to registers, then counters, then the actual structure and operation of a simple-as-possible computer. My computer that I’m building right now is based on the SAP-1 architecture with some modifications that add needed functionality.
He wasn’t originally going to tackle such an insane project, however:
“Initially I was going to build a 4 bit computer, but I later decided that having a computer that could only operate with integers from 0 to 15 would be rather boring.”
Yes, far too boring to have managed to build your own computer from scratch.