Feature

Electronic Homebrew

Building Your Own Computer

Matt Lacey

Issue 3, September 2017

Compared to a modern computer, you can't do a whole lot with with a 68K computer. But the knowledge that comes with it, makes it all worthwhile.

If building your own computer is a rite of passage, then Matt is well on his way. His Homebrew 68K computer is still in progress, but it’s a journey of exploration through the hardware that surrounds us. We had a chat to Matt about this fascinating process.

What made you undertake the process of building your own computer? Was it for understanding, intrigue or something else?

Intrigue would be an excellent word for it. I’ve been programming since my early teens, and for a long time I regarded both assembly language programming and hardware as dark arts: magic best left to wizards! Then sometime around six or seven years ago I tripped over Nisan and Schocken’s book, “The Elements of Computing Systems” (more information on this can now be found here). This takes you on a journey from logic gates through basic CPU design, all the way up to writing your own compiler and assembler. It took away a lot of the mystery, even if it was focused on a virtual computer. That got me far more interested in what was going on below the software level.

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