Z8000 Computer

When I was attending the University of Iowa, a couple of fellow students (Mike Higgins, Eric Wedel, Charlie Berger) and I designed and built a custom Z8000 based computer which was used for numeric control in circuit board manufacturing back in the early 80s.

Five years later, when it was no longer needed by Wellborn Industries, they were nice enough to send it back to me.


All 4.5" x 6.5" cards were wire-wrapped with on-card voltage regulation.

The slots from left to right:
- empty
- 8KB EPROM w/EPROM programmer interface
- 16KB EPROM using 2716 EPROM (2Kx8)
- Z8002 CPU (16bit/4Mhz)
- 32KB dynamic RAM using 4116 DRAM (16 - 16Kx1 dips)
- 8KB static RAM using 2114s (1Kx4)
- 2 port RS-232 using 8250 UARTs
- 2 port RS-232 using 8250 UARTs
- Bus termination with power output
- empty

All software was written in assembler and burned into 2KB EPROMs. The software included a BIOS (source) and a numeric control editor.

The Z8000 assembler was our own and was written in IBM 360/370 assembler.

All development was done on an IBM 370 mainframe at the University of Iowa, using Wylbur timesharing.

Also see Farewell to and old friend, the university's mainframe was powered down for the final time, more than 50 years after the first campus mainframes brought high-performance computing to the UI.


Construction