From: Andrew Wiskow (wiskow_at_gmail.com)
Date: 2008-10-05 00:50:23
When asked about the Commodore LCD on the Commodore 128 Alive! forum, Bil Herd wrote this: I forget how the idea came about other than we had purchased Eagle Pitcher and were the only US manufactures of LCD "glass". Some of the engineers that appeared in the halls were LCD types and I one time slammed into one guy named Dave (forget the last name) while flying around a corner too fast, that turned out to be one of the inventors of the thin film transistors used for LCD. So we had LCD and we decided to make a machine with it. Roughly it went that we came up with the idea which became management's idea which became marketing's. I hand drew the first schematic on B sized .1" grid paper over the course of a week and basically designed a the system and a spec for a paging MMU that also allowed the LCD to show a "window" of memory. The idea was that when editing or displaying a file, you just slid the window around in it. Later I found that they dropped this feature because the chip guys made an excuse and the designers bought it when they should have hung the chip guy by the ankles and beat the crap out of him. Seriously the excuse was that the "function key display line" couldn't be accommodated (a non-moving line) when the reality is they could have made that a separate "window". At any rate we were working on that and a guy named Jeff Porter had joined CBM from AT&T in Indiana. He was a rare breed that already knew all of the regulations and design practices for making a modem approved to go on the phone lines (when I was growing up you could only "lease" you phone and it was against the phone company's rules to put any other non-approved phone device on _their_ phone lines). The LCD was going to have a built in modem so it was a good fit for Jeff. Some time in July or August I was in the lab, working on something or other and I kept hearing a commotion behind me. I kept hearing the phrase "but I don't understand" coming from the engineer working with Freddy Bowen on the B128 or D128 or some such thing. It was 6845 based and used a 6809 if I remember. Finally I turned around and exclaimed that it was quite obvious that the problem the guy was having was caused by contention, snatched the PLA terms from him and showed him that he had photocopied it crooked causing the last column to get cut off at the bottom and that he didn't have enough terms to do the decode correctly. Basically I found the problem that had been annoying them, hence me, all morning in about 45 seconds (okay, I knew that analyzer REAL well, the 7D02, and knew from experience that contention causes it to hiccup a certain way). Freddy looked at me, I looked at him, a week later I was the co-designer on the project, a week later the designer. I threw out the design while I was still co-designer and started over with a 6510 and the idea that something could be C64 compatible and it led to the C128. Meanwhile Jeff was a senior guy and took over LCD without missing a beat. Him and a guy named Ian Kirschmen did the hardware, Hedley Davis, Andy Finkle, Carolyn Scheppner and Judy Braddick (and others form the games group I think such as Ric Cotten, etc) did the code. They got the LCD ready by CES also which wasn't all that easy as the C128 did steal priority a lot, depending on whatever state of emergency had been cooked up by the way the chips worked, etc. Jeff tirelessly gave demos as can be seen at http://www.theryanzoo.com/coppermine/displayimage.php?album=1&pos=1 Ian can be seen at http://www.theryanzoo.com/coppermine/displayimage.php?album=1&pos=6 If you look at the rest of the pics you can clearly see that the LCD was a major part of that years booth, though they had about 4 computers to the 20-30 C128's the core of the booth touted them equally. Jeff had orders/promises in hand for tens of thousands of units he took personally at the next CES from what I understand, but Marshal Smith, as the story goes, was convinced by the CEO of Tandy that there was no future in mobile little computers. I hung an article outside my office later that year that showed that the SINGLE HIGHEST selling item of the Tandy product line was that stupid little gold and blue colored LCD computer that had half of the resolution of the CBM LCD. The keyboard was also really cool, designed by Mitsumi for the LCD, it had the beveled look and feel of a full sized keyboard back when everything was membrane or chicklet. We could have started something new, we had already done the hard part and made one... Bil Herd Message was sent through the cbm-hackers mailing list
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