Retro computing is a good reminder of how far things have improved, but to go back there? I have yet to own any computer that I have felt that I have exhausted all possibilities to learn and interact with. My work as a teacher for 36 years usually mandated that we move the children to the next stage of technology to keep the students as up to date as possible. This inevitably meant that quite capable designs were declared "old fashioned" well before "all that they offered" was explored. I am returning here to my second SBC I purchased around 1980, the Sym-1 by Synertek. Not to turn the world around but just for me to savour again the thrill of working with a great design that promised so much, and sadly as I found not enough time to explore. However there maybe other gems that other people can glean from these activities, so here we go...
I sold my original Sym-1 around 1984 to buy an Acorn BBC-32Kb. So I bought another Sym-1 around 2017 and this time wanted to use the RAE, the Resident Assembler and Editor, as the main software on it. I had always enjoyed Assembly Language and was yearning to not do it by hand this time, but to use an assembler. The rise of the Arduino systems had drawn me back to bits and bytes, and made me remember just what these retro machines also offered.
To this end I first had to get the Sym-1 to a convenient level of operation. Being familiar with its versatile design, I set about exploring what could be done. Here is a simple list of the progression of the project.
1. Power Supply: 5V LED supply (done)
2. Expand the onboard RAM (done)
3. EPROM Programmer (done)
4. Expand RAM off the board to 32k or more (done)
5. Soft load major ROM images (done)
6. Use 2764 (8kx8b) EPROMS (done)
7. SD Card storage and retrieval. (done)
These stages will be explained and outlined in separate Hackaday Project Logs (below), as not all parts will interest everybody, and this will make the story a bit more modular. The files developed are linked to this page as I can't see how to link then to the relevant Hackaday Pages. This will also provide a short cut for those who don't need all my explanations of what needs to be done.
Given the number of new designs for retro 6502 systems (especially those amazing breadboard constructions) they could do well to try to incorporate the RAE as their main language support. It provides very open ended programming capability, and given the Arduino IDE today, well ahead of its time. I am not sure what would be required to get the Sym-1 monitor and RAE to transfer to a Bread Board Build for a 6502, but I hope that my work will show at least a filing system is well within easy reach.