Author Topic: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?  (Read 1995 times)

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Online MathWizard

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What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« on: March 23, 2020, 06:06:16 pm »
I know the names of a few modern computer prog. lang's, and would expect to see that type of code on new scope's/etc, from all companies, since everyone's on a modern computer writing the code these days.

So what's it like for 80s/90s era tech ? Did most companies cook up there own code/lang, machine code/etc ? So you'd have to learn 10 books if you really wanted to dig into DSO's from 10 companies? Or maybe they are more similar, if there was less prog.lang./etc to choose from ?
 

Online rsjsouza

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2020, 07:03:37 pm »
Basically yes. Most equipment I see from this era uses custom code based in C or ASM.
So yes, you used your elbow to brush bits on registers, after reading hundreds of pages of literature. Nice SDKs and libraries were scarce and cost money.
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Offline TK

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2020, 07:06:30 pm »
Most of HP test gear from the 80's use 68000 microprocessor with some sort of 80's RTOS
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2020, 07:12:36 pm »
"1980's, 1990's" covers a lot of years but there wouldn't really be many CPUs to choose from.

Most of them are probably either Z80 or 6800 (1980s)  or 68000 (1990s).

I doubt Intel would have been inside any of them, although there's bound to be somebody who knows different.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2020, 07:18:18 pm »
"1980's, 1990's" covers a lot of years but there wouldn't really be many CPUs to choose from.

Most of them are probably either Z80 or 6800 (1980s)  or 68000 (1990s).

I doubt Intel would have been inside any of them, although there's bound to be somebody who knows different.
Nope. The Tektronix 2030 has an 8080 processor inside.

Basically anything goes where it comes to programming languages. You can expect any kind of language. ASM, C, Ada, (compiled) basic and even Java (the later Tektronix TDS500/700 series hava a Java logo on their splash screen). The same goes for the OSses being used. You can find anything from bare metal, VxWorks, Unix-like OSses like Qnx, etc.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2020, 07:25:23 pm »
Interesting...

I guess I'm basically clueless in this area, but I assumed that the hardware designers, especially back then, were focused on minimal hardware/ROM/etc. resources, and had to make their code as efficient and minimal and directed towards the specific manufacturers' A/D converters and other hardware they were using in the particular piece of equipment.

Which implies to me that they would have some absolutely bare-bones and custom, vendor-specific assembly-type code, or at most maybe a tiny subset of a full-on language like a C interpreter or whatever.
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Online nctnico

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2020, 07:55:24 pm »
Interesting...

I guess I'm basically clueless in this area, but I assumed that the hardware designers, especially back then, were focused on minimal hardware/ROM/etc. resources, and had to make their code as efficient and minimal and directed towards the specific manufacturers' A/D converters and other hardware they were using in the particular piece of equipment.

Which implies to me that they would have some absolutely bare-bones and custom, vendor-specific assembly-type code, or at most maybe a tiny subset of a full-on language like a C interpreter or whatever.
Why would they do that? Test equipment never has been cost sensitive where it comes to the hardware. If you have a bunch $1000 ADC ASICs in an oscilloscope it isn't going to matter if you use a $5 or $50 processor in it. The cost of NRE is very high compared to sales volume; having to optimise software a lot is a road to going bankrupt. What you typically see is that the processing part is not really cut down for cost. Power consumption and size are much more important constraints.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 07:58:48 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Offline edavid

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2020, 07:59:49 pm »
"1980's, 1990's" covers a lot of years but there wouldn't really be many CPUs to choose from.

Most of them are probably either Z80 or 6800 (1980s)  or 68000 (1990s).

I doubt Intel would have been inside any of them, although there's bound to be somebody who knows different.
Nope. The Tektronix 2030 has an 8080 processor inside.
2030?  Were you thinking of a different model number?

Anyway, the Tek 2246 series scopes use an 8088 CPU, which is why they have a snappier UI than the much more expensive 2465 series, which use a lowly 6800.

The 7854 mainframe uses a TMS9900 CPU, oddly enough.

Quote
Basically anything goes where it comes to programming languages. You can expect any kind of language. ASM, C, Ada, (compiled) basic and even Java (the later Tektronix TDS500/700 series hava a Java logo on their splash screen). The same goes for the OSses being used. You can find anything from bare metal, VxWorks, Unix-like OSses like Qnx, etc.

Tektronix even used Smalltalk - what a bad idea.
 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2020, 08:02:36 pm »
Interesting...

I guess I'm basically clueless in this area, but I assumed that the hardware designers, especially back then, were focused on minimal hardware/ROM/etc. resources, and had to make their code as efficient and minimal and directed towards the specific manufacturers' A/D converters and other hardware they were using in the particular piece of equipment.

Which implies to me that they would have some absolutely bare-bones and custom, vendor-specific assembly-type code, or at most maybe a tiny subset of a full-on language like a C interpreter or whatever.
Why would they do that? Test equipment never has been cost sensitive where it comes to the hardware. If you have a bunch $1000 ADC ASICs in an oscilloscope it isn't going to matter if you use a $5 or $50 processor in it. The cost of NRE is very high compared to sales volume; having to optimise software a lot is a road to going bankrupt. What you typically see is that the processing part is not really cut down for cost. Power consumption and size are much more important constraints.

Thanks. I guess I was visualizing it along the lines of the early Apollo flights  :D where they had these extremely restrictive hardware resources with tiny RAM and CPU abilities and had to manage down to the byte level to get the functionality they needed. I guess with instrumentation it's more like "hell, those big electronics corporations can afford it, just add another $5,000 to the cost. No wackers !"  :D
- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
- Those who agree with you can do no wrong. Those who disagree can do no right.
- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Online nctnico

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2020, 08:06:58 pm »
"1980's, 1990's" covers a lot of years but there wouldn't really be many CPUs to choose from.

Most of them are probably either Z80 or 6800 (1980s)  or 68000 (1990s).

I doubt Intel would have been inside any of them, although there's bound to be somebody who knows different.
Nope. The Tektronix 2030 has an 8080 processor inside.
2030?  Were you thinking of a different model number?
8088 rings a loud bell. Thanks! It has been years since I have opened a Tek 2030.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2020, 08:15:40 pm »
Wow, stroll down memory lane....

This thread reminded me of when I built a Heathkit scope way back when. Anyone remember this?

I just saw some drawings for the guts of this and didn't even see any recognizable processor. Heathkit 4105. Dated 1979. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 08:22:30 pm by engrguy42 »
- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
- Those who agree with you can do no wrong. Those who disagree can do no right.
- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Offline WattsThat

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2020, 08:35:17 pm »
Heathkit scopes were 100% analog, the IO-4510 was the last decent scope design to come out of Benton Harbor which was in the early seventies. There where a few later, cheaper models with plastic everything but they never matched the 4510 for performance.

 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2020, 08:38:50 pm »
Oh yeah...analog scope wasn't going to have a processor...

DOH !!!  :palm:

And at the time I didn't even know what performance was, so it was all about learning how to solder and what all those parts and the big tube were  :-DD
- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
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- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Online oPossum

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2020, 08:39:15 pm »
The Heathkit 4850 was a DSO with a Z80. Could use a CRO for a display.
 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2020, 08:42:52 pm »
Wow, another stroll down memory lane...

Z80 reminds me of when I built the Heathkit/Zenith H89 (or was it a Z89?) with a Zilog Z80 CPU. None of this Windows rubbish. Good old Assembly language and Basic.

- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
- Those who agree with you can do no wrong. Those who disagree can do no right.
- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2020, 08:56:34 pm »
Interesting...

I guess I'm basically clueless in this area, but I assumed that the hardware designers, especially back then, were focused on minimal hardware/ROM/etc. resources, and had to make their code as efficient and minimal and directed towards the specific manufacturers' A/D converters and other hardware they were using in the particular piece of equipment.

Which implies to me that they would have some absolutely bare-bones and custom, vendor-specific assembly-type code, or at most maybe a tiny subset of a full-on language like a C interpreter or whatever.

Not necessarily.

Hardware engineers are canny, often more so than software engineers. The good ones are focussed on solving their problem, using the most appropriate technology whatever it is labeled.

At least one HP protocol analyser' code was Smalltalk, the Digital Smalltalk V variant. That implies it was an 80x86 processor.

Some Tektronix products also used Smalltalk. Tek even made some Smalltalk workstations.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2020, 08:59:34 pm »
Interesting...

I guess I'm basically clueless in this area, but I assumed that the hardware designers, especially back then, were focused on minimal hardware/ROM/etc. resources, and had to make their code as efficient and minimal and directed towards the specific manufacturers' A/D converters and other hardware they were using in the particular piece of equipment.

Which implies to me that they would have some absolutely bare-bones and custom, vendor-specific assembly-type code, or at most maybe a tiny subset of a full-on language like a C interpreter or whatever.

Not necessarily.

Hardware engineers are canny, often more so than software engineers. The good ones are focussed on solving their problem, using the most appropriate technology whatever it is labeled.

At least one HP protocol analyser' code was Smalltalk, the Digital Smalltalk V variant. That implies it was an 80x86 processor.

Some Tektronix products also used Smalltalk. Tek even made some Smalltalk workstations.

Yeah, no kidding...I've often wondered why virtually every bit of software has to go to the users to find all the bugs in seemingly never ending alpha/beta/whatever cycles, but hardware (for the most part) just seems to work.

Go figure.
- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
- Those who agree with you can do no wrong. Those who disagree can do no right.
- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Online nctnico

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2020, 09:09:50 pm »
Wow, another stroll down memory lane...

Z80 reminds me of when I built the Heathkit/Zenith H89 (or was it a Z89?) with a Zilog Z80 CPU. None of this Windows rubbish. Good old Assembly language and Basic.
I'll raise you the Tektronix terminals from the 70's and 80's. No CPU; all discrete logic.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2020, 09:14:46 pm »
Thanks. I guess I was visualizing it along the lines of the early Apollo flights  :D where they had these extremely restrictive hardware resources with tiny RAM and CPU abilities and had to manage down to the byte level to get the functionality they needed. I guess with instrumentation it's more like "hell, those big electronics corporations can afford it, just add another $5,000 to the cost. No wackers !"  :D

Are you saying the Apollo Space Program computers were small because they had a limited budget?

PS: The phrase is "No wuckers"

(as in "no wucking furries...")
 

Offline WattsThat

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2020, 09:43:58 pm »
The Heathkit 4850 was a DSO with a Z80. Could use a CRO for a display.
(Attachment Link)

Never knew they did that one, thanks. It must have right before they went under. One on eBay right now for $80. Was it a complete kit or partially assembled like many of their last products were with the high density digital stuff factory built?
 

Offline WattsThat

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2020, 09:47:15 pm »
Quote
I'll raise you the Tektronix terminals from the 70's and 80's. No CPU; all discrete logic.

And the HP9100A RPN calculator in 1968. Not one digital device.

 

Offline WattsThat

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2020, 09:49:11 pm »
Wow, another stroll down memory lane...

Z80 reminds me of when I built the Heathkit/Zenith H89 (or was it a Z89?) with a Zilog Z80 CPU. None of this Windows rubbish. Good old Assembly language and Basic.

H89 when it was a kit, Z89 when it was pre-built by Zenith.
 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2020, 09:49:46 pm »
Too funny. No wuckers.   :-DD

How come we never had that in US???  :D
- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
- Those who agree with you can do no wrong. Those who disagree can do no right.
- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Offline engrguy42

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2020, 09:53:38 pm »
Wow, another stroll down memory lane...

Z80 reminds me of when I built the Heathkit/Zenith H89 (or was it a Z89?) with a Zilog Z80 CPU. None of this Windows rubbish. Good old Assembly language and Basic.

H89 when it was a kit, Z89 when it was pre-built by Zenith.

Ahhh...okay.

I recall spending all day and most of the night soldering parts for that H89 computer (maybe longer...), and maybe 3am I had it all together, flipped on the power switch and saw

C>_

Beauty...
- The best engineers know enough to realize they don't know nuthin'...
- Those who agree with you can do no wrong. Those who disagree can do no right.
- I'm always amazed at how many people "already knew that" after you explain it to them in detail...
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: What kind of code is on 1980's, 1990's scope's/etc ?
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2020, 10:04:49 pm »
Quote
I'll raise you the Tektronix terminals from the 70's and 80's. No CPU; all discrete logic.

And the HP9100A RPN calculator in 1968. Not one digital device.

Except, of course, for the DTL and ferrite memory.
http://www.vintagecalculators.com/html/hewlett-packard_hp_9100a.html
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 


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