WayBack: Wire-wrap? 80186?

WayBack: Wire-wrap? 80186?

AST Cell so tweeted: “So there was an 80186 chip! #LearnedSomethingToday”

To which I replied: “Yeah, it was basically an 8086 with a couple of timers for #embedded. Built a wire wrap SBC with 80186 when I did my undergrad.”

(SBC = “single board computer”. Wow, yes, imagine that, a whole computer, on a single circuit board. Amazing, but true.)

Wow. Yeah, old skool, old school, and even old schul. Saw this tweet, and thought, “do I still have that ancient thing somewhere in the lab?”

Let’s see, boxes on top of reference library shelves, maybe that one? Yeah! There it is!

Look out, this thing has a 10MHz rock on it. We’re burning up the road! With a pair of 2732’s for code, and a couple of 6116s. 4k of SRAM baby! One of those 28 pin DIPS is a UART. Yeah, a whole chip dedicated to just being a UART. Discrete 74LSxx logic. Way too much of my brain’s HD space is taken up by remembering 74xx series ICs. Anyway, we built these in an embedded programming class I took when I did my CE undergrad. I bought my own parts, so I could keep the board, instead of using the university’s stuff which I’d have to give back. And now it sits in an old box in the lab. What a great use of grant money! Oh well, I could’ve bought beer. My wire-wrap tool was easier to find. I still use that one fairly often, not to wire-wrap anything, but it has a great little stripper for tiny wire used for jumpers in proto/debug work.

It’s amazing to compare this to a modern single board computer, like the Raspberry PI, or a “single chip computer” like an $8 (in onesies) Microchip PIC32. Far more power, much easier to implement. Big code base, flash memory…why back in my day we had to stick chips under UV light to erase them! And use a special piece of hardware to burn code to ’em. Maybe those political types can’t do it, but us techies sure can do change for the better. #Progress.

Some pics of this wayback for your legacy hardware amusement.

« | »


  1. Love the pics, thank you!

  2. wow gold asshat spammer

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

Leave a Reply